Highly enjoyable, uncomfortable, alienation
Fujisan is a collection of 4 stories with the brooding, beautiful, symbolic and spiritually charged presence of Mount Fuji at its heart.
This is fine, precise writing, clear and often casually shocking. The central characters in each story – the manager of a convenience store, previously a member of a spiritual cult; a group of teenage boys obsessed with the dark side of the psyche – ghosts, the cult of suicide; a beautiful young man with an emptiness and violence at his heart; a nurse working in gynaecology alongside both birth and death, all have a certain similarity, of an almost shellac brittle exterior, through which surges all sorts of repressed and partially repressed violence and secrecy.
The characters are all loners, to some extent, but preserve acceptable veneers. The mountain speaks to each of them, or they use it, in some way, to project aspects of their own nature on to.
It is the casual weaving in of the fascination of suicide, the brutality and sadism of thought or action, the contrast between the delicacy, spareness and refinement of Japanese art, for example, and this expression of an almost matter of fact brutality of certain aspects of the culture – seppuku, for example, and how that has a cult value accorded. It is the difference between the spareness of the writing, and at times the violence and brutality which is being written about which is so alien and unsettling. The stories express loneliness, disengagement, have a nihilism about them – and yet have this strange purity. A fascinating, unsettling read – a bit like pulling on wet clothes, and finding discomfort at the edge of your skin, so that the clothes not quite settling right almost translates to an unsettling feeling in your own skin, so that your own, known, edges, are somehow suddenly revealed to you