Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Midstream Review of David Mitchell's "Thousand Autumns"

I am delighted, and yet perplexed, and I suppose 'literary treatments' of the low-genre melange are nothing new, and vis-a-vis Quentin Tarantino, very popular, but I just hadn't expected it all to be so recognizable. After the long first section about Jacob de Zoet and his life on Dejima Island, which was very unique, the book suddenly lurches into what seems like a well-written Laura Joh Rowland mystery book from her Sano Ichiro series combining plot elements from Rowland's Black Lotus, and things like Yasuzo Masumura's Hanzo, The Razor movie trilogy which also features a criminal nunnery involved in pregnancy and white slavery. There is some hope though, maybe, in the character of Enomoto who it seems may be a dark alchemist bent on eternal life, who is in turned paired with a good character, an old woman, an herbalist healer, called Otane of Kurazane, which is really too much! And funny! David Mitchell is a trip! For his spell to work on me, the book is going to have to get A LOT WEIRDER! There are a few lines where local people in the book say they have seen winged monster women flying about the peaks near the Enomoto abbey, and there is a kind of Hundred Monsters aka Yôkai hyaku monogatari frisson with the the detail that all the nuns in Enomoto's abbey are deformed! The deformities are weird, and some of them seem sinisterly sexual. But then, the whole evil sexual nunnery thing is a schlock genre favorite in Japan with films like Convent of the Sacred Beast or Seijû gakuen which really means School of the Sacred Beast which features loads of lesbian flogging erotica etc.. (a classic no doubt!) :)  I used to really be an afficionado of such things when I owned Anticristo: The Bible of Naughty Nun Sinema and Culture which is a great compendium of knowledge on the Nunsploitation genres. Anyway, I am just chuckling away as I read this thing, I am surprised that Mitchell would be as interested in these sort of low-brow genres as I am, or was, etc. What a great writer. I really doubt I could do what he is doing, but I can see what he is doing, at least in part.. pretty neat.