Read this Damn Author
Look, right, okay, I get it, I don’t actually write about writing very much on this blog (apart from to shamelessly plug my debut novel Rape Jokes in brackets constantly, buy it here). Apart from that time I recapped Carrie. Or the Harry Potter books. Or Fifty Shades. Or…
Whatever. It’s not often I get excited about an actual author, but recently, I have been getting The Fuck Into a new writer, and I want everyone else on the planet to read his work so I have someone other than my much-beleaguered partner to talk about this with. I feel like most of us haven’t got into anything new since we were about sixteen – the favourite music, books, games, movies, TV shows, they all stick in roughly the same ball park. Well, I am Louise, I am twenty-four years old, and I want to talk to you about…
Ryu Murukami, motherfuckers! The closest I had come to his work was watching the excellent and infamous Takashi Miike horror Audition when I was first getting into horror and trying my best to repress the memory of that scene with the dog food bowl oh my God. But I didn’t realize, until earlier this year, that it was actually based on a novel of the same name by cult Japanese author Ryu Murukami.
I had to see exactly how someone could sew the twisted groundwork for a movie like Audition in literary form, and so, I collected a handful of his short novels: In the Miso Soup, Piercing, and, of course, Audition. I really didn’t know what to expect; from what I could find about him, Murukami seemed mostly known for short, violent, idiosyncratic novels capturing the modern landscape of Japan and especially Tokyo.
I haven’t gotten into a writer the way I’ve gotten into Ryu Murukami in years. I’ve been voraciously collecting every single one of the books in his back catalogue that have been translated into English, devouring them, and then trying to get everyone else around me to read them. I know this one has a scene where someone shoves an ear up a vagina! But hear me out, it’s fucking great!
Murukami’s work is what I came to Brett Easton Ellis looking for, and never found. I started with In the Miso Soup, a tiny novella about an increasingly-uneasy Japanese tour guide showing an increasingly-unhinged American tourist around Tokyo’s red light district, and from there, I was fucking hooked. All the stories of his that I’ve read – Audition, Coin Locker Babies, Pierching – have been double-headers, focusing on two characters and their relationships to one another and the world around them, usually ice-cold in execution and viscerally unflinching in content.
His character work is pinpoint accurate and unflinching, his stories are lean and short and satisfying, and the violence is utterly shocking and always relevant to the themes he’s trying to unravel. I’m obsessed with the way his books toe the line between outright surrealist nightmares and distinctly real horrorshows (none more so than Piercing, which is a book I read in one sitting and then had to go for a long lie down after), and I can’t remember the last time I tore through an author’s work so quickly and loved everything I found along the way.
All this to say: go read Ryu Murukami. I might like to snark on bad writing, but I like to share when I find good stuff, too. I don’t write a lot about writing and reading and what have you these days, but I owe it to you, my dear readers, to tell you to get out there and track down some of his work. It’s horrible and brilliant and truly some of the most beautifully-written stuff I’ve come across in years. Finding Ryu Murukami’s work felt like a revelation, and it’s only fair that I share that with you.
(header image via Little White Lies)