At the Edge of the Wood is the first book I’ve read from Masatsugu Ono and it won’t be the last. This book was complicated, shocking, and managed to be thrilling and sentimental at the same time. If you are looking for a short and quirky book, you’ve found it.
In At the Edge of the Wood, there is a father and son and also the wood. Because the wood’s presence is everywhere and so powerful; it is impossible to escape from it.
The mum is at her parents’ house because she is pregnant and she feels safer to be there during pregnancy. Well because there is or may be imps out there, kidnapping unborn children.
Do not read this for the plot because there isn’t any but read for the ambience. Enjoy!
When his wife returns to her parents’ house to have their second child, an unnamed narrator and his son are left to manage by themselves. Instead of absence, what the father and son begin to notice is a strange noise opening up between them, reverberating through their home, their television set, and the books they read at night. The wood outside their home hums with it, too: leaves fall from branches which are already naked, trees wriggle when walked past, and the hills on the horizon rise and fall in a building rhythm.
Ono’s stories teeter on the edge of something unsayable, exploring repetition and contradiction to sketch compelling, otherworldly characters. The strange sound which hums through the twinned narratives is distilled in Carpenter’s translation, which masterfully employs the rhythms and echoes of the English language to convey Ono’s sense that something is coughing, laughing, turning under the words on the page.
Masatsugu Ono is a Japanese writer. He resides in Ōita Prefecture and is an associate professor at the Rikkyo University. He was award the 152nd Akutagawa Prize, for the novel 9 Nen Mae no Inori.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: