Afterthoughts: Grotesque – Natsuo Kirino

So, I got this book from G, who told me it’s the best book he’s read so far and it was so good he finished it in one night. And yes, the copy that I got from him is exactly like the one above — this publisher, this cover.

And the few nights I read it before I went to bed (not many nights since I finished the book in… 5 days), I had had to put something on top of the book before I sleep because that pair of eyes is too creepy. It makes me feel that Sato Kazue is watching me.

I will not elaborate much on the story because, well, it is too impossible to give a summary. I tried and I failed, so I shan’t, lol. The story does not fall under horror though, so don’t get me wrong.

Perhaps it is a kind of horror by itself because the characters in the story experienced tough years growing up in a toxic environment that led them to have really screwed up and dark thoughts towards the things around them. And it is a kind of horror because it is very real — how grotesque and  perverse a person’s mind can get.

You have the twisted and selfish Hirata (the main narrator in the story who never ever revealed her own first name even til the end of the book) who hates her own sister to the point of truly wanting her sister to die and she is also someone who feign friendship with the try-too-hard-yet-still-failing-miserably classmate Kazue, only to trick her to do silly things many times (erm, including telling the already skinny classmate she needs to lose weight to the point of causing the classmate to have bulimia and giving stupid dating tips/ staging scenarios just so that she can watch her classmate get laughed at and rejected by her crush) just to make herself feel better for being superior. The pathetic thing about Hirata is that she never succeeded in life anyway despite the way she see herself as being smart, special, or too-cool-for-you. She is just this pathetic woman who grew up living in the shadow of her sister’s beauty, growing up hating everything around her thinking she’s so high and mighty, only to know deep in her heart how insecure and plain she is. She is so pathetic and blinded by her insecurity and desperate need to excel in ways she could (since both looks and wits were not on her side), I feel so sorry for her. She is so ugly inside, her thoughts are so raw, and at the end, so pathetic, it is grotesque.

Then you have the poor classmate, Sato Kazue. The one who was brought up to know that she has to shine in life. The one with the mentality that hard work can bring wonders. And in a way, coddled by her father to believe that she is amazing and so she seeks validation and recognition in all ways, almost shamelessly and with no ability to detect ’embarrassment’ — to be the smartest student, to be the pretty girl in school, to be cool. You know the poor classmate who try really hard but is just not cool and people laugh at her but she doesn’t know when to stop? That’s Kazue. Doesn’t help that she is coddled to the point of being naive. In the end, she never got the recognition she wanted all her life and she drove herself mad seeking validation when she is already good enough. Again, I feel really sorry for her. But unlike distaste for Hirata, I feel genuine pain for Sato Kazue because all she needed was someone in her life to tell her ‘you are good enough’ and it never came. It makes me shudder to know how cold her world must have been, that in the end, the way she sought validation and recognition was to be a prostitute, because among the prostitute, she was special. She was a prostitute at night and a high earning executive in a prestigious company in day time. The only way she felt good was through the look of admiration, surprise, and validation that her customers gave her when she showed them her name card. Again, dark. Grotesque.

I think the book was brilliantly written, not just in how creative the writing style was, but also how raw and real the characters seemed.

The best part of it is that the one character that haunted me the most, Kazue Sato, is in fact, based off a real person called Watanabe Yasuko.

Kazue Sato’s story haunted me for a few days after I completed the book because the one character that made me feel so pained for is real. I had consoled myself that it is just a book like how you console yourself that it is just a movie — imagine the filming scene, remind yourself it is just a movie, it is not real — only to find out that she is in fact, real AF.


I’m returning G the book because he says he need to read it again, lol.

And that’s all.







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