Jun. 30th, 2011

labingi: (Default)
As I proceeded through this Japanese murder mystery, I found myself wondering why--according to my mother--Miyabe is considered one of the premier Japanese mystery writers. The story was solid: the characters relatable, the plot turns engaging enough to keep me reading, but I wasn't sensing literary genius. Then came the last 40 pages or so, and I realized that The Devil's Whisperer is akin to Iain M. Banks' Use of Weapons insofar as it's a competent story elevated by a highly impressive ending. Personally, I'd rather that than a strong story that fizzles into mediocrity.

The story (which is set up as if to for anime adaptation) centers around a courageous and good-willed 16-year-old boy, Mamoru, whose life has been shadowed by the disgrace of his father, accused of embezzlement. Now an orphan, Mamoru lives fairly contentedly with his aunt, uncle, and cousin. However, he finds his childhood repeating itself when his uncle is imprisoned for manslaughter (hitting and killing a pedestrian with his taxi). His uncle maintains his innocence: the girl ran out unexpectedly in front of his taxi, and the story concerns Mamoru's valiant quest to unravel this mystery and prove his uncle's innocence. Of course, things get more complicated, and Mamoru quickly finds himself enmeshed in a web that leads from broken hearts to subliminal advertising to his own father's fate.

The book was published in 1989, and it shows its age an interesting way. Technology, of course, has vastly changed. Here we are in a world of wondering who's on the other end of the family phone and posting letters to publishers. Yet teen experience seems essentially unaltered: angst, bullying, friends, breakups, gender relations: it's all remarkably unchanged.

In the main, the story is a decent page turner. Murder aside, the world seems a little brighter than real life, disgrace a little less damaging, indefatigable nobility a little easier. The ending, however, is not what I expected. Red herrings are deployed to good effect, and deep questions of moral responsibility and the nature of justice are probed briefly but sensitively. I recommend it to fans of murder mysteries or Japanese popular novels.
labingi: (Default)
Via [personal profile] andraste. I don't know if I'll manage a 30-day commitment, but here's question 1 anyway:

1 – How did you first get into writing fanfic, and what was the first fandom you wrote for? What do you think it was about that fandom that pulled you in?

The very first stab I took at fan fic (before I ever heard the term) was, I think, Star Wars, where I made a very abortive attempt at some fic the purport of which I don't remember. It quickly got rewritten as "originalized" in my own universe (not that it's ever been completed). Ditto my first foray into B7: it started out "originalized" in a very transparent way. This was all based on natural literary drive, quite apart from any knowledge of fan culture (c. 1996 or so).

My first explicit "fan fic"/earliest posted fic was in Buffy (2003). I remember its being newly written and my pattering heart as I showed a copy to my hotel roommate at the Buffy Conference in Nashville. By the time, I was reading fic somewhat regularly, and Buffy was a well-archived, active fandom. I was, at the time, deeply into Buffy (viewing, doing scholarship, reading fic, thinking, etc.), so fic was a natural outgrowth of that love. I never wrote much for Buffy though. Mainly I needed to exorcise my sense that Spike and Dru never got a satisfactory ending.

The rest of the questions )


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