I first read his novel The Samurai Banner of Furin Kazan Tuttle, 2006 in 2013 and later I read and found his short story Passage to Fudaraku in The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories Oxford University Press, 2010 and novella The Hunting Gun Tuttle, 1961 arguably readable since I rarely heard of him but he has written something stylish and humane that inspired me to look forward to reading his other works, e.g The Bullfight 1950 This made me wondered why any of his works was not selected and included in Donald Keene s Modern Japanese Literature From 1868 to Present Day Grove Press, 1994 However, reading and enjoying this three story book finely translated by Michael Emmerich made me, again, to rethink on his literary stature since he was so outstandingly creative and recognized that he won five prizes as well as his wide readership as we can see various novel and short story titles in his biography , we simply can t help doubting if his fame has been honorably justified Life of a Counterfeiter is the first story in this copy the other two being Reeds and Mr Goodall s Gloves. Seemingly revealed from the titles, each one has been meant to portray human life in different contexts and hardships as seen in contemporary Japan sometime before and within the narrator s lifetime Saying something brief and moral related to some key characters from each story, I think, should be inspiringly informative in some sense to posterity As for the first one, it deals with a counterfeiter, a fraud, named Hara Hosen whose painting expertise is so excellent that he can deceive most viewers of famously outstanding paintings by eminent artists as the genuine ones In the end, the narrator traces and finds his latest whereabouts and content means of living as a notable maker of fireworks Whereas the second one deals with a young child baby boy with his dimly flashback like reminiscence as recalled by the innocent narrator himself, in another episode and context, probably as a toddler in a boat who vaguely recalls seeing his aunt and her mate do something seemingly romantic but curiously inexplicable on the canal bank with the green reeds as the lush background The third story Mr Goodall s Gloves nostalgically traces back with the narrator s fond memories of his Grandma Kano, great grandfather s mistress, who has raised him as a young boy with tender loving care Before Meiji 22 1887 , she once attended a grand event with Matsumoto Jun and the boy s great grandfather named Kiyoshi however, she was unable to enter and had to wait outside in the snow Mr Goodall happened to pass by and out of pity lent her two large white gloves For some reason, the gloves have still been kept in Grandma Kano s house and found after Mr Goodall s death in 1889 They remind her of various stories kindly told to the boy on such close, intimate and friendly relationships in that his great grandfather respected Matsumoto Jun as his mentor.In conclusion, this book is highly recommended since the author has revealed a variety of human characters out of his deep understanding on Japanese people and culture, that is, we can sense something inexplicably unique, impressive and inspiring We can t help admiring his writing expertise that allows us to read and enjoy his novels and short stories many still being not translated into English, French, German, etc for his readers worldwide. I really enjoyed these three short stories Inoue has a lovely calm writing style, and his stories always have a fascinating premise He has a great way of capturing characters, and somehow manages to create a brilliant sense of characters that are out of the foreground as well not just our narrators but the people in the world and memory of the narrators A great read. I really believe that Yasushi Inoue has become one of my favorite writers This small book contains a novella, Life of a Counterfeiter, and two short stories, Reeds and Mr Goodall s Gloves.Each story is told in a calm thoughtful and also compassionate way Inoue based his stories on real life and his deep interest in other people shows as he describes, in the first story, his journey to discover who the mysterious Hosen is, a counterfeiter who sold his own paintings under the name of a famous Japanese artist.In the second story he hearkens back to fragments of a memory of an aunt who lived with his family when he was very young She apparently had compromised herself and was sent to live in Inoue s small village with his family until she married the father This aunt is written about in his book Shirobamba.The final story begins with Inoue walking through a Western Cemetery and coming across the gravestone of a man with the name of someone who helped his grandmother years ago This granny, not really his grandmother but the mistress of his great grandfather, is another character in Shirobamba I m glad I read Shirobamba first, a story about Inoue s childhood in pre WWI Japan, before this book, because it enabled me to better appreciate the characters.None of these stories are adventurous, but each one contains a quiet memory, perhaps not exciting, but profound to the author and, thanks to his poetic writing, becomes as profound and beautiful to us as a biographical haiku. This book collects three short stories by the renowned Japanese novelist Yasushi Inoue Life of a Counterfeiter, where a man commissioned to write a biography of a famous artist finds himself instead drawn to the artist s friend and forger s life Reeds, where a journalist explores memories of his childhood, in particular why his aunt was ostracized Mr Goodall s Gloves, where another journalist sent to report on Nagasaki after the atomic bomb explosion becomes side tracked with memories of his grandmother after seeing the grave of Mr Goodall.The title story is definitely the best but, seeing how all three stories were very boring, that s not saying much We learn about the counterfeiter who made a living travelling from one town to another, selling his friend s paintings , before giving up forging art to make fireworks until his death I suppose the story is meant to underline the fine line between what is and isn t considered art the counterfeiter clearly had enormous skill but he chose poorly in using it to copy another s work instead of creating his own As a result, he s not remembered by many while the artist is celebrated nationally.That said, the biographer mentions that the counterfeiter s paintings are still treasured by the people in the country who bought them and it doesn t really matter to them whether they re true originals or not And the fact that the biographer became interested in the counterfeiter than the artist he was supposed to be writing about is perhaps an indication that the counterfeiter s life wasn t a waste Reeds and Mr Goodall s Gloves both look at Japanese social s with regards women which closely resemble Western society s at the same time, circa first half 20th century The journalist s aunt didn t get married but still had relationships with men and as such became a social pariah The journalist s grandmother was the mistress of a Westerner and became ostracized as a result Ok and This was my first and probably last encounter with Inoue s work and, while they re not without literary merit, I can t say I enjoyed reading them in the least Inoue s style is rambling for the most part, sashaying from one subject to another, which I felt was irritating, especially as his touch is so light like many literary writers that his stories leave little impression on the reader Apparently Inoue is considered to be one of the great writers of Japan though I m not sure why. In this collection of three short stories, Yasushi Inoue has presented a subdued world of pre and post World War II Japan through the lives of fairly ordinary people well perhaps ordinary is overstating a bit Using writers biographers, journalists , he investigates the details of individual lives in small towns far from the center of city life.In the title story, a journalist has been commissioned to write a biography for the anniversary of a famous artist s death He has already missed the designated date and as the 13th anniversary approaches, he knows he will miss that deadline also But why Because he has become sidetracked in his search for knowledge of this great man s life and found himself caught up in the life of another man, connected yet not intended to be part of the book A man he finds very interesting His investigation of this man is triggered by memories of everyone he talks to, works of art hanging on walls.The other two stories also involve trips away from the city, travel to the countryside, visual memories triggering thoughts of people long gone from the narrators lives but somehow begging to be remembered While initially my response to the stories was one of relative interest without enthusiasm, the 2nd and 3rd stories brought home the multi layered themes completely and lyrically for me than the did Life of a Counterfeiter Ultimately, I found the stories to be about memory, relationships, people, places, landscapes Simple but layered than I originally realized.From Reeds As I read this article, a scene rose up in my mind s eye of a father and a boy sitting together in a room in a temple lit by soft winter sunlight, each holding a fan of cards, concentrating on a game of picture matchingWas this memory real or the place or the game The game itself leads to some fascinating writing they had shared, but the fact that the boy had only three cards made this tricky In N s case, an extraordinary disruption of his life had stolen his memory, leaving him only those three cards, but to some extent we are all in this position each of us holds one or two cards that have been in our hands for years, who knows why, while the cards that should be paired with them have disappeared, instilling in us the desire to try and learn, through our own games of picture matching, which particular section of that larger design they might make up.The final story, Mr Goodall s Gloves, also works with memory and a very strong sense of place and visual recallquestions of whether this vision is accurate followed by attempts to verify the early childhood memory.These stories were all originally published shortly after World War II.I do recommend this book for those who enjoy short stories of subtlety and also the element of Japanese customs and codes of behavior A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. This was my first Yasushi Inoue title but it will definitely not be my last Life of a Counterfeiter is a collection of three short stories including the titular story, Reeds, and Mr Goodall s Gloves All three stories are excellent and go a long way in establishing the kind of storyteller Mr Inoue is There is a certain stream of consciousness esque element to these stories that I really liked In Life of a Counterfeiter the main character is supposed to be a biographer of a famous painter Onuki Keigaku but while researching Keigaku, the narrator comes across Keigaku s former friend Hara Hosen who he discovers is a counterfeiter of Keigaku s works The narrator is unwillingly fascinated by this counterfeiter and exerts considerable effort to find out about him, driven perhaps by than just curiousity about this counterfeiter He feels an empathy for Hosen, the counterfeiter, inferring that Hosen s brush with Keigaku s genius may be what propelled the man down such a dark lane and then to his tragic end The story is told in anecdotal bursts and the narrator relays his findings while he goes around living his life and surviving the war that Japan is in the middle of losing at the time I could well imagine myself seated in a cafe or some such place listening to the story The tone is welcoming, a bit self deprecatory, and entirely wonderful The other two stories continue much in the same vein.In Reeds the same narrator talks about fragments of memories a person has that is usually matched with the fragment of memory someone else has and illustrates his point by elaborating in some detail his memories about his grandmother, and a couple he remembers from when he was very young but whom he can t identify Mr Goodall s Gloves concerns the same narrator s grandmother, who was a mistress of his grandfather and not his true wife, and her interaction with a foreigner, Mr Goodall, who gave her his gloves when she was left outside in the cold to wait for his grandfather The stories concern the human condition and are characterized by the gentleness that I have come to associate with Japanese literature Michael Emmerich s translation is superlative and there is never an instance where I felt that anything was lost in translation.If you enjoy Murakami, you will enjoy Yasushi Inoue Though Inoue s work does not have elements of magical realism that Murakami s is famous for, it has the same vibrancy and earnestness that make Murakami s work so fantastic Strongly recommended. My third Yasushi Inoue instalment and the latest release from Pushkin Press, the three short stories presented under the title story Life of a Counterfeiter it is available to buy online although the release date says 15 March 2015 As per Bullfight and The Hunting Gun this is again a beautifully presented book, Typeset in Monotype Baskerville, litho printed on Munken Premium White Paper and notch bound by the independently owned printer TJ International in Padstow The covers, with French flaps, are printed on Colorplan Pristine White Paper and both the paper and the cover board are acid free and Forest Stewardship Council FSC certified Beats the iPad every time.This volume is made up of three short stories, and we open with the title story Life of a Counterfeiter We have another newspaper reporter as we saw in Bullfight and our narrator this time, is an Osaka arts reporter who has been commissioned to write the biography of artist Onuki Keigaku We join him thirteen years into his seven year commission and he still has nothing than a half formed or is it empty timeline His research though leads him to the forger of Keigaku s work, Hara Hosen For my full review go to A biographer goes out in search for materials for his book and comes across another personage the guy who made a living selling forgeries of the paintings of the artist whose biography the narrator is writing He begins by disliking this fraud and then comes to a strange sort of appreciation for the old fellow. Three Perfectly Executed Stories From One Of Japan S Most Beloved Writers Showcase The Exquisitely Tuned Talent Of Yasushi Inoue The Writer Describes Each Character And Landscape With A Lucid, Deft Tenderness In The Title Story, The Narrator, Who Is Supposed To Be Writing A Biography Of A Famous Artist, Becomes Obsessed Instead With The Wasted Life Of The Man Who Forged His Paintings In His Typically Understated Way, Inoue Probes Into The Difference Between Fact And Fiction, And How The Fake Can Sometimes Become Important Than The Original Melancholy and bittersweet short stories that really touch on how fleeting life and memories are I like the way some moments are described in great detail while others are simply passed over it very much reflects how memories expand or shrink in our minds as life rolls on.
Yasushi Inoue was a Japanese writer whose range of genres included poetry, essays, short fiction, and novels Inoue is famous for his serious historical fiction of ancient Japan and the Asian continent, including Wind and Waves, Tun huang, and Confucius, but his work also included semi autobiographical novels and short fiction of great humor, pathos, and wisdom like Shirobamba and Asunaro Mo
- 140 pages
- Life of a Counterfeiter
- Yasushi Inoue
- 02 April 2017 Yasushi Inoue