Books – April 09

Norma Field – In the Realm of a Dying Emperor
Philip Pullman, Editor – Detective Stories

I really haven’t been reading that much lately. In the realm of a dying emperor is about Japan at around the time of Hirohito’s death, in 1989. The author presents for people each of whom has, in his own way, rebelled against Japanese society. I found it interesting for all its little insights into Japanese life, and yet at the same time kind of forced. That is, the portraits of people, their lives, and the people around them were interesting. The attempt to tie it all together into some historico-critical tale about Japan in the 20th century was pretty weak. There is a lot that could be insightfully said about Hirohito and his role in Japan’s shame and recovery in the 20th century, but this book didn’t really say any of it. Still recommended to people interested in modern Japan.

Yes, it was that Philip Pullman. This was a collection intended, I think, for young adult readers or something. It was a decent random collection of detective stories. But why is it every mystery anthologist feels compelled to include non-mysteries in their anthologies? I suspect they feel ashamed of mystery’s pulp history and status and feel they need to show that it has “range”. It’s a genre, deal with it. If people can’t see that there has been great mystery writing, fuck them. If I buy a book of mystery stories, I want mysteries, not your wanker idea of some literary gem that is vaguely mystery-like.