Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime

Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime

Book - 2010
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While attending their book club meetings, Japanese high schoolers, Konoha and Tohko, who is actually a literature-eating goblin in disguise, uncover a mystery surrounding the death of a former student.
Publisher: New York : Yen Press, ©2010.
Edition: 1st Yen Press edition.
ISBN: 9780316076906
Characteristics: <v. 1> :,ill. (some col.) ;,21 cm.
Additional Contributors: Takeoka, Miho - Illustrator


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FindingJane Feb 07, 2017

Being an avid bibliophile, I thought this story of a girl who has bibliophagy (look it up) would prove intriguing. There certainly is a mystery going on here, to wit, it’s a mystery why anyone would care about this story.

The character of Konoha is one of those oddly submissive boys I find in a lot of these stories, led hither and yon by a pushy, forceful girl who is cheerfully uncaring about his reluctance to help her in his schemes. The girl who’s bothering him is Tohko Amano, a girl who suffers from the aforementioned affliction.

However, she doesn’t see it as an affliction, merely an appetite of hers that needs to be appeased and fed. This casual attitude about her needs is what causes Konoha to label her a demon, an appellation she shrilly denies.

Is she a demon? Or merely a human who has a condition? She doesn’t eat any other food although she has no trouble comparing whatever she eats to human comestibles. Konoha wonders how she can describe culinary flavors when she never eats common human fare. That mystery is never answered.

Instead, the book gradually sweeps us into a possible murder that occurred ten years before the book begins. There are all sorts of red herrings here, leading you to wonder if this story is about reincarnation, a ghost or a possession.

I’ve no wish to spoil the conclusion only to say that I found myself baffled in a way that proved frustrating. The convoluted nature of this story is wearying to read and some passages make no sense. Konoha and other characters seem to possess little in the way of real emotions. He wonders about the deceitful Takeda but we don’t know if that’s spurred from concern or curiosity stemming from ennui. Quite a few characters, dead and alive, profess to have little feeling for their fellow human beings. Why, therefore, should we the readers care anything about them?

Konoha also has enormous guilt about a girl he saw throw herself from a rooftop, a girl by the name of Mui Inoue. But that was the nom de plume he wrote under when he was younger. She never existed! So how could she have committed suicide? If there wasn’t a suicide, why’s he so guilty about her?

With so many people in the book either committing suicide or trying to kill themselves, the novel has a lowering effect on the spirit. There were moments when I felt like throwing myself off a roof just to avoid reading more. If this book accomplishes anything positive, it makes me inquisitive about this writer Osamu Dazai whose prose appears intermittently throughout the pages. But it’s a poor book that leaves you flat and yearning for that of a better author.

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