Friday, September 2, 2011

Read A Good Book: The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa and translated by Stephen Snyder

If you like mysterious story-telling this is a wonderful book. Written originally in 1990 and 1991 by Yoko Ogawa there are three novellas titled: The Diving Pool, Pregnancy Diary, and Dormitory. Stephen Snyder translated these stories in 2008 and the book in my hand is the result of his work. My father in law sent this collection to us and each story is gripping, fantastical, and they will crawl inside your head and stay there.

The Diving Pool is my favorite of the collection. The main character is a young girl whose parents run an orphanage and tend to leave their biological daughter to her own devices. The girl herself has a fascination and secret crush on one of the boys living there, his name is Jun, and he is a diver on the swim team at school. The girl constantly observes Jun’s good behavior and admires him deeply while she herself feels she is not well-behaved and acts accordingly. The twist at the end, which I will not give away, is startling and heartbreaking. The story has crawled inside my head and has stayed there coming to the front of my mind with startling clarity at the oddest moments in time.

The second story, the Pregnancy Diary, is about a woman keeping a diary about her sister’s pregnancy. She catalogs her sister’s comments about food and smells, the clinic she visits, and recounts memories of going into an abandoned clinic and poking around. The sisters had seen the instruments, the tables, they had snuck around inside and all of these memories influence the diary. There is a twist at the end that leaves you wondering what is real and what is imagination.

The last story called Dormitory is one that has crawled inside my father-in-law’s head and stayed there. This one is about a woman visiting an old college dormitory that her young, male cousin is interested in living in. The woman visits the dormitory’s Manager who explains that this particular dormitory has changed and may be deteriorating but welcomes the cousin to move in. Mysterious things begin when the Manager admits a boy disappeared without a trace and the Manager becomes increasingly strange himself with each visit by our main character. I cannot give much more away but it is a strange ending that gives no relief yet will stay indelibly inked in your memory.

If you enjoyed this review, I urge you to find a copy of The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stepehn Snyder, at your local library. To purchase a copy of this book you can visit your local book-store or visit using the link below:

Thanks always for reading, please drop in again next week...

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