This will be an unofficial and unscheduled reading club for the short story 人間椅子 by 江戸川 乱歩. It was first published in October 1925 and it is considered one of his creepiest stories.
Because of that, I chose it as my Halloween read and plan to read it in its entirety on the day (at 32 pages, it should be doable). However, it goes without saying that anyone can join at any time. Feel free to post questions and thoughts whenever - just remember to use spoiler tags!
An author receives and reads an unusual and unsettling letter from a chairmaker.
General contents: It does not involve the supernatural and what happens isn’t intense in terms of standard horror elements/plot, but the descriptions are extremely creepy and unsettling. (in an exaggerated and grotesque way, not a ‘this could happen’ way)
Slightly more specific content description / warning: Involves detailed descriptions of personal space and privacy being profoundly violated without the victims being aware of it.
Fully specific description: Involves a first-person account from a man who describes building and secretly living inside of an armchair, enjoying the sensation of people unknowingly sitting in it.
Also, I have the “江戸川乱歩ベストセレクション” edition with the flower on the cover, and in that the story starts on page 7 and ends on page 31 for 25 (bunko) pages of actual text.
(the pages are quite dense though, for what that’s worth, as it is low in dialogue and high in Ranpo-ish description)
I’ve been sent here by cat over on the Natively forums, glad to have this excuse to finally read my first 江戸川乱歩 story! (Fun to poke my head out on the WK forums again too.) I’ll hopefully get a chance to read it later today, and report back once I have.
Aha, I wondered! didn’t want to accidentally tag a different cat though
Also, I finished the story! I followed this 朗読 video, which is really nice because it has the text on screen as well. Also had the Aozora text open to do quick lookups, and paused quite often to do that. Pro tip: 凭れ（もたれ） means the backrest of a chair. That was a rough one to look up, seems like 背もたれ is the normal version now.
Spoilers in here
This was a great story, just the right amount of creepiness. I feel like I should have read it in a big armchair rather than at my desk for the full effect though!
The descriptions are so vivid, I half wondered if 乱歩 had actually closed himself in an armchair— and it turns out, according to the Wikipedia article, he did. Now that’s dedication to good storytelling! I always like reading wiki articles about classic works like this after finishing them, because they usually have good background information, and that’s no exception here. It’s pretty short so I’d recommend everyone check out the 執筆背景 section if you want to know more.
I also feel like I have a strange connection to this story, because in about 3rd grade we had a big and cheap (i.e. hollow) pullout couch at my house that I realized I could hide inside to scare my friends or parents by knocking on the inside or yelling as soon as they got comfortable. I don’t think assassination or romance ever crossed my mind, and I was never in there for more than about 5 minutes, but… he just like me fr.
In summary, this was a delightfully uncomfortable hour+ of my life well spent.
Looking forward to hearing everyone else’s thoughts after reading!