Once you said each person has a snake in their body.
THE HUNTING GUN by Yasushi Inoue is an extremely short book in length. The edition I read was about 75 pages including Inoue’s forward. But oh what extremes in emotion it provokes with its economical prose and the clever set-up of the narrative.
The narrative on the surface is about Josuke, a married man, as told in three letters – One each from Saiko his mistress, Shoko his mistresses’ daughter, and Midori, his wife (and Saiko’s cousin). Actually, this brilliant plot framing device which is responsible for carrying the whole story doesn’t tell us that much about Josuke who comes across as a cold, aloof, somewhat lonely man who prefers time alone in the great outdoors hunting with his firearm (hence the title).
Instead, we see how his behavior affects others and how the others are as people. Saiko struggles with what she labels “sin” in fact her length affair with Josuke is a byproduct of the end of her first marriage which occurred when her husband had an affair and a baby with another woman. She feels guilt for the affair with Josuke which is at the end made worse by a confrontation with Midori.
Shoko writes of discovering her mother’s dairy and reading of her mother’s guilty feelings for the relationship. After that, the young innocent girl loses all idealism about love. She also writes of her mother’s suicide which is the signature event of the book that all three letters are written around.
Midori, the wife, has no illusions about her husband and her cousin as she saw them together shortly after getting married. After many years together, she is asking for a divorce. We are led to believe she has also been unfaithful to Josuke. It is clear she detests him completely now and feels nothing in common with him anymore.
For such a short novel, the way each piece fits together produces a really big vision. I can see all three women, how they look and act. I have less of a clear vision of Josuke as our vision of him is filtered through the eyes of others.
A great book - powerful, intuitive, each word perfectly placed and sharp as a dagger.