dealer's tables, and I came
across a young Japanese lady sitting alone at a table displaying several
stacks of the same unattractive-looking books she was literally giving
away. I say unattractive, from the point of view of a guy with an eye for
something offbeat and twisted and appealing to me, cool covers depicting
creatures or zombies or a maniac holding a severed head, and not, rather, a
skyscraper photograph below an Arizona mountaintop photograph.
that’s just me.
from that, it was a historical love story and not my typical reading
material of choice, or so I assumed, at least not something that would in
itself attract me into buying it at a local book store.
lady was most gracious, and I was nonetheless grateful, adding it to my
collection of books I would soon afterwards read and review.
Throughout the course of the convention, I found myself spending time with
Koji, first accidentally spilling my drink all over his shoes and making an
ass of myself, then for the longest time conversing and laughing with him
and his interpreter over a few drinks at my table on the balcony of a
publisher’s private party. He was mild-mannered, cordial, remarkably
intelligent and possessed about him a rare wit.
truly impressed me, and I’ll never forget that time with him. It goes
without saying but I’ll say it anyway…..if you’re going to be introduced to
an exciting author you’ve never previously heard of before though has been
accomplished enough as to produce a pop culture horror sensation, that’s
the way to do it.
immediately upon returning home from the convention I set out to purchase
Ringu on DVD (and not yet the Americanized The Ring, since I
prefer to see the original foreign production before any Hollywood remake),
and put Paradise on my reading schedule.
Ringu, the literary masterpiece itself (which I’m reading any day now)
has been highly regarded as Mr. Suzuki’s first novel, but not so. It’s this
one. The tale reads like an epic though has an easy 200 or so pages to it,
and is divided into three parts, each linking together with the other, each
taking place in historical periods hundreds of years apart from the other,
progressively. Over this vast timescape, two souls long to be with one
another, only to find loss and separation even after death. Firstly
belonging to a prehistoric Mongolian tribe, the man sets out to achieve his
manhood by hunting a legendary red deer. When he succeeds, the deer becomes
his strength, and he becomes not only able to wed the woman he loves and be
a father to their son, but is on his way to becoming chief of the tribe.
is, until terrible things happen which shake their world.
meet again on an uncharted island centuries later, the man washed ashore
from the aftermath of his sea ship going under in a storm only to be taken
in by the peaceful inhabitants of the island paradise he’s inadvertently
discovered, and by an exotic maiden who leads him into a cave where someone
long ago had inscribed the image of a magical red deer.
long afterwards, terrible things happen which shake their world.
final act takes place in modern times, set first in New York and then the
vast Arizona desert, where the man is a successful composer of symphonies
that wears the images of a red deer around his neck for good luck, who
crosses paths with a woman journalist frustrated with her life and who has
longed for true love for so very long……
grateful for having this book handed to me despite my initial disinterest.
It read like a masterpiece, was a breath of fresh air and reminded me of all
of those important masterworks I grew up reading in school for good grades
and book reports. You know the same ones. Steinbeck, Ken Kesey, Faulkner,
Fitzgerald, Hemmingway, Twain, London. Stuff I wouldn’t likely have
ordinarily read unless I had to under those circumstances, classic works
which actually ended up inspiring me and enhancing my life and my love for
literature. Paradise reminded me of this love, and of the fact that even
now I should broaden my reading horizons. It was thrilling, overflowing
with emotion and poetic genius, the sort of book you find yourself
reminiscing over in your mind weeks after you put it down. This book should
be required reading at any high school or college here in America, and I say
this, with the urgency to actually start a campaign.
think, just like me, if more readers who otherwise wouldn’t be drawn to it
were exposed to its pages, Suzuki would be well on his way to achieving the
sort of status that all great names in world literature share.