Sunday, December 15, 2013

Evil and the Mask

Don't look won't do you any good.  I read Evil and the Mask by Fuminori Nakamura.  I didn't read any reviews before I picked it up.  It was on the new shelf  at the library and the blurb on the inside of the cover caught my attention.  It was a bit of a strange read.  The basic plot - and I'm giving some spoilers here - is that there's a family that every few generations decides to produce a member who will be a cancer on society.  However, at some point, things either went very wrong or very right, and the various good branches died off, the bad branches took over, and then self-destructed.  The book focuses on one such cancer who has to deal with his father, and brother, and cousin, all of whom are various cancers of varying degrees of nut-jobbery.  In the end, it's a bit of a love story, and the girl his father takes into the household to eventually break his son, instead serves to give this particular cancer (the son - the main character) a focus of purpose that allows him to do evil in the service of eliminating anyone that might hurt this girl who, for a brief time, was his love and lover.  In the end, it's that love that both sets him free to pursue a normal life outside Japan, and her a normal life inside Japan, despite the previous intervention of murderers (his father), industrial-war-complex magnates (his brother), murderous secret societies (his cousin, who doesn't actually murder anyone and comes out ok in the end), drug dealers, and more.

Perhaps the major point of Nakamura's Evil and the Mask, per my reading, is that the act of murder deforms the murderer, makes them a monster truly outside of society.  But it's that deformation that allows the main character to get his and his girlfriend's life back in order by the end and overcome multiple attempts to make him a cancer.

Amazon recommends this neoprene mask as an alternative link when looking for Nakamura's book.  I think I would have been uncomfortable wearing that mask while reading the book, although it might have put me in the spirit of one of the cancers.

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