Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Just a note: That Kitakata novel, "Winter Sleep", is one of the worst things I've read in recent years. I came across a reference to the author a while ago while looking up contemporary Japanese thrillers and, for some, he apparently has a reputation as the Japanese Spillane. Now, I like Spillane. I've read Spillane. Kitakata is no Spillane. On top of everything else, this is one of those novels whose action takes place in the art world, written by someone who hasn't got a clue. So we have a (current day) artist making the "daring" leap into abstraction and having to explain it to people. Plus, of course, he's the tired, incredibly tired stereotype of the struggling painter, alcohol and sex-driven, striving to put his "heart" on the canvas, etc., ad nauseum. It's like those direct-to-cable thrillers you sometimes saw on Cinemax. Amazed the guy wasn't wearing a beret and reading Sartre. Just awful.

One thing was bugging me. Throughout, reference was made to "size hundred" (or twenty or fifty or ten) paintings, as though the artwork was being produced like bolts of cloth. I couldn't figure this out. 100 centimeters? On each side? Are they all square canvases? But the way it was used--and it was used constantly--was in a very general way, the way you'd say "a two-story house" or "a triple cheeseburger." "I want to buy the size hundred painting." "He liked the size twenty painting." It bothered me enough that I wrote the translator; have yet to hear back. For all I know, this is common parlance in Japan, but it seemed extremely odd to me.

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