Hey cool! I was thinking of finishing it today as well, but in the end Kafka won (and I finally finally finished that one ), so Autumn Prison will follow tomorrow as now I’m getting tired (and the end was a bit intense, so I want to stay in that mood for a bit).
No idea tbh! But the two stories were unrelated in Night Market, and so I would naively expect them to be unrelated in this book as well.
This is what we know (assuming I’m not forgetting anything - I read this story in May):
A bunch of people are experiencing the same time loop.
Those people gradually disappear from the loop entirely, and the White Count is involved.
Over time, new people start experiencing the loop.
And that’s it. My interpretation was that eventually, everyone will become a replayer and then disappear. But what caused the loop, and what happens next - whether November 8 even exists, and what will happen on November 8 if it does - aren’t meant to be explained. In fact, moving on and accepting the unknown, and the lonely, melancholy feelings involved, are the point of the story.
Had a small reading session this morning and I’m also done with the first story.
Liked it even more than the first time 5 years ago. I undersood way more of the nuance in the writing this time around.
But I honestly didnt even see the metaphor you mentioned before reading your post. Its crazy how well it fits and i still didnt make that connection. Thank you very much for bringing it up and giving me a new way to look at that story.
Started with the second story. 3 Chapters done.
This story doesn’t really catch me as much for now. I don’t know why, but the intrigue of the house just doesn’t interest me somehow. On top of that, the vocabulary is a little harder for me. Turns out I don’t know many words for old house items (笊、囲炉裏、汲み取り式便所 to name a few…)
Also started the second story today, about 25% in (almost at the end of chapter 3). So far I must say I like it a lot! While the first story almost had a sci-fi touch to me with the time loop and these things, this story comes across as much more atmospheric and spooky, with the old house and the surroundings. I like the description of the house a lot! Curious to see where this will end up.
I read the first 5 chapters of the second story. Such a promising start! Very spooky and even funny in a dark way, how the narrator got roped in, all the while thinking he was humouring a strange old man in need for company. And then…it changed into fantasy again. We went from a mysterious, creepy house you can’t escape to a jolly Japan-travelling home, complete with its own endless water and mangotato supplies. Once again, very interesting concept, and I’m very curious where it will go, but the writer has a way of removing much of the darkness from his stories, I think. My comments may be premature, of course.
Seeing mention of a 汲み取り代のトイレ reminded me once again that there’s another book I should be trying to finish…
And a nutritional question: Has he really been eating rice and canned food that’s more than 60 years old? Because the food must have come with the old man, right? Or can you order delivery?
Anyway, the story poses another interesting “what would you do in the narrator’s place”: Would you try and trap someone else if you had the chance so that you would be free? What if that someone else has people depending on them? The narrator has no attachments as far as we know. And apparently you can live in the house forever if no one replaces you. Would you choose immortality over freedom? I think I might, if only there were more books in the house. This doesn’t sound like much of a collection to last for eternity.
Finished story 2 chapter 10 9 last night. Things are picking up speed! Narrator was able to rope in an unsuspecting man and to break free from the house. Only to learn later that this man had killed his wife just before coming to the house - and he continues to kill! Now what will the narrator do about this situation? dun dun dun
If I reach “10” in the book it surely means I finished chapter 10, no?
So yesterday I had read up to 8 or 9, I think, and to be honest, I was starting to get a little bored with the story. But then today, an unexpected twist once again! (Spoilers for the whole story ahead) And I finally got a dose of horror too! The twist was so clever, I didn’t see it coming at all. Yes, idyllic, magic Japan-travelling house. But what if a serial killer gets to use it? What if they imprison live victims in there, allowing the killer to roam freely? And the house’s “guardian” is not even allowed to die if there’s no replacement, so you suddenly have an immortal serial killer with super powers. A very cool ending, I thought.
I do have a question though: What exactly was the narrator trying to achieve with his proposed deal? Why would he trust an almost-confirmed serial killer to not kill for many months? Why wait till September? What does he think would have changed by then? And was he really prepared to allow the killer to go free, as long as he didn’t commit murder in the sacred house? Why on earth didn’t he call the police? Surely they’d arrest the man, search the house, label it a crime scene, the narrator would somehow find a way to stay behind when everyone left, the house would disappear after a couple of days, and that would be it. No? Was he afraid the police wouldn’t be able to see the house? Did he want to keep the house’s existence a secret? (but several people already know about it) Surely it wouldn’t be more of a sacrilege to have police trampling all over the house, when there were already murders committed in there?
Which leads me to another unanswered question: How come some people could see the house and some couldn’t? At first I thought it was the pure of heart who could see it, as the woman who abandoned the kittens and the boys kicking their schoolmate (obnoxious though he was) couldn’t. But surely our lovely English teacher wasn’t all that pure? And he even committed crimes inside the house, so how does that work? Is it just random?
Today I finished the second story! I liked it a lot, and I was pretty sad that the house got destroyed in the end and that he could not live the life he had started to like so much.
So the morale would be something like “be careful whom you entrust with something important, they might not treat it well and even ruin it” sort of thing?
I found it so interesting how he turned this travelling house into such a normal thing! It really became pretty slice-of-life at that point, I thought.
Although it was a bit boring, I really liked the episode with the rich boy because it was such an interesting potshot at Japanese society as such and how it made him realize he did not want that any more.
You mean the deal with the dude who was in the house? That was in chapter 10 only
Anyways, I think he wanted to buy some time to be able to arrange his stuff, as he described later.
The classic question I guess because it’s such a standard device plot: “The stupid police will not understand anyways, I will exert self-justice, what can possibly go wrong?”
Yeah, that’s an unanswered question. I guess it was just random and mainly served as a mechanism to make the story more interesting in the first place?
Oops, I see I didn’t make it clear in my previous post that I had finished the story. Hope I didn’t spoil you or anyone else. Yes, that deal.
But that doesn’t make sense to me. He knew months before, and couldn’t do a thing until the house arrived in his neighbourhood again, because he didn’t know where to find it. But he could surely get ready at least? Even if he wanted to make sure that things were as he suspected, he could still have tried to get ready for the possibility. He could also have tried to secure someone’s help. Didn’t he have anyone in his life who might help? Going alone into the house would always be a risk, but if he had people with him he would have the upper hand for sure.
It now occurs to me that he wanted to sell his house in order to have the money for all the things he would want to take with him (if I remember correctly?) and obviously selling a house isn’t quick, nor is it something you’d do without knowing for sure you’ll have somewhere to live. But still, a deal with a serial killer? How could he ever think he could trust him? Oh well.
Oh hey I totally ignored your “But then today” That should have clued me in at least.
No, luckily not - I was just a bit confused how you knew already that he didn’t call the police… but other than that, your descriptions were vague enough to not spoiler me.
He brought a knife, at least. Plus I found it pretty smart that he did not fully kill him on the spot, which allowed him to escape still. Other than that, this “I can handle this on my own” attitude is what carries sooo many movies and of course it never works out but “at least I tried”…
Hahaha maybe that’s the true horror part here
Other than that, he’s just being a bit naive, I guess
I finished the second story this morning. I had the exact same feelings as you all. Getting a bit bored by all the people casually visiting the “café” and then being engaged back in with the murder story.
I took it honestly as him also not thinking super straight.
He was longing hard to get back into the house, so I don’t think he made a well-thought-out plan. You see his confusion in his thoughts while talking with the deranged 韮崎さん when he tries to adjust his “plan” to the conversation. I think it’s because we follow an unreliable narrator. He tells himself he feels guilty of the murders and that’s his motivation (because that’s a societally acceptable reason). That’s the information the reader has. But deep down, he couldn’t care less about random people, he just wants to get back into his idyllic life. He wants HIS house back.
Started the third story the other day and just finished chapter 3. For the very start of the story, I think some trigger warnings may be in order as I found the narrative somewhat disturbing, especially regarding rape and confinement. (The descriptions are not detailed, but anyways.)
For the story itself, it starts out with a very confusing narrative and it took me a while to figure out what it is about. Then we jump back in time to a young girl and how she grew up with her granny who is a witch. At first I misunderstood this but now I think that リオ is actually the girl from the start of the story?!
I’m now at the point where her house was burnt down and her grandmother disappeared, and she roams the town with no place to go and tries out her own magic for the first time. Curious to see how the story unfolds!
Read story 3 chapter 4 and 5 today. We watch the girl’s backstory unfold - how she lived with her granny, how the house burned down, how her granny disappeared, how that was not actually her granny, how she does not remember anything about her life with her family and how she got to that granny although she was apparently only missing (i.e. living with that fake granny) for four months, and finally how she develops her magical skills further and further.
And all the time the start of the story is in the back of my head and I’m wondering how it will connect…
I read chapters 1-3, and this story seems to be firmly in the fantasy genre so far. If I understand correctly, there is some kind of “religious” organization where people like the girl’s grandmother normally belong, but the grandmother was a free spirit and wanted a free future for her granddaughter, away from the organization’s restrictions. Meanwhile, the man with the eyebrows is probably connected with the organization and was trying to “groom” リオ for the time when she’d inevitably join it. Apparently that time has come one way or another, and she is currently in the clutches of that organization (I’m guessing). It’s unclear to me what exactly she’s doing there, but she’s certainly being stripped of her identity and personality. But she’s secretly resisting.
Not my kind of story so far, but I’ll keep reading.
By the way, what I found more disturbing than the trigger warnings mentioned by @NicoleRauch above, was the bullying and (sort of) witch hunting.
I found the stories to be quite interesting. It’s really like somebody else already said, he takes an absurd / spooky / mildly horrifying idea and then kinda dissects it by turning it into a normal everyday thing.
Gives interesting insights on his imagination of what society would be like if such a thing were real.
But yeah, especially this dissecting of his idea turns it into the most un-horror-like thing ever. This is exactly the contrary to horror books I used to read, where it’s often the case that the reader gets tossed into a strange world, and the story continually imposes a feeling of “something is off, something is dangerous, something will happen soon” on them. Whereas in our stories here it really feels like slice-of-life in a strange world.
For the stories themselves, I think I liked the second one best. The idea of a house which travels around the country is just totally funny and intriguing! Also how our hero met the friends of the previous house-owner was very touching to me, and then the tragic end of the house being destroyed by his own stupidity.
The first story was also interesting, trying to imagine what such a thing would feel like, and the parallels to our own lives (no matter how much we tell it ourselves, in the grand scheme of things we don’t get anywhere either, really, do we? ).
The last story is about growing to your full potential, despite at first not being interested in it, but making it happen through sheer necessity. In a way this is the opposite message to what the first story conveys. This is really interesting and wraps up the book pretty well for me.
I really like the author’s writing style, and I think I will read more of him in the future.
(In fact, I already own one other book by him, called 雷の季節の終わりに, but I think I will first read some other stuff. Maybe next year?)