Life Ceremony: stories
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Relationships, types of families also are touched upon several times, can two women qualify as family and can a couple experience love without ever having intercourse? The stories invite you to ponder about many questions and to scrutinize your position and attitude when it comes to the deviation of the common. A hilarious story of two school girls feeding an unusual pet ( who turns out to be a burned out middle-aged businessman).
Per usual in short story collections, some texts are stronger than others, but this one truly displays some gems like the title-giving "Life Ceremony" (cannibalism! sex! morality!), and the ones discussing the relativity of what counts as repulsive ("A Magnificient Spread") or, ähem, respectful, maybe ("A First-Rate Material" about, you know, making curtains out of human skin etc.). And how can you not love a story written from the perspective of a curtain?! Plus: Even the really, really short fragments absolutely deserve to be in there. I found the last three entries to be a little weaker, but hey, overall, this is great stuff. I cringed a few times — but I absolutely love the way Sayaka looks at life — at people - at animals - insects - nature - foods ——reality—humanity. The flat prose also conceals her judgment: Although her characters argue and discuss the question of norms, Murata’s voice never takes sides. She wants to create ambiguity and sensibility, not certainty. In contrast to the protagonist, another character in the story “Life Ceremony” calls the world a “brilliant mirage, a temporary illusion” that is simultaneously real: “All our little lies are gathered together and become a reality that you can see only now.” Although absolute norms may not exist, collective belief renders them tangible. Murata’s word choices — “mirage,” “illusion,” “lies” — asks the reader to challenge their notion of “reality.”
If you do nothing, you will be auto-enrolled in our premium digital monthly subscription plan and retain complete access for 65 € per month. In “Life Ceremony,” the mirage falls apart when one sees through it. Murata is interested in what happens to those who do, those who refuse to conform. Some of her characters stay true to their beliefs and face ridicule and ostracization, some slowly conform or at least lose their grasp on right or wrong: “I just don’t know what to think anymore” and “maybe everyone’s right,” one thinks — thoughts the reader may also have throughout the collection. This is the title of the book's story! Don't get too excited with that exclamation point. I was visibly repulsed by this book. Quite literally on the verge of barfing the entire time. I don't even want to give the plot because I want you all to read this yourself. Very brief, about a girl moving to a country with no sleep and people living at night. Like a sketch of story that should have been developed further.
This story felt very dreamlike. Quite literally felt like something I would think of in a fever dream. It's about a sprouting friendship of two young kids who live in a town that doesn't sleep. The sand in the town makes everyone not need to sleep. However, during the nighttime everyone goes out and in the daytime, everyone stays inside. Except for these two kids who like to go outside during the daytime since it's so empty and bright. this story felt like a full novel put in very short words and I think it's my favourite of this book. it had absolutely everything and did not waste time on details that were unnecessary. it was amazing and strange and slightly relatable while at the same time deeply concerning.The enforcement of social codes is prevalent throughout Life Ceremony, most emphasized in the story Hatchling where a young woman finds herself adopting a unique personality, mannerisms and style of fashion to fit whichever social group she is currently within, occasionally swapping several “selfs” in one day and wondering if there was a true self anywhere. A Clean Marriage (short story), English translation by Ginny Tapley Takemori, Granta 127: Japan, 2014.  Please note that all of my words are completely my own words and may not be used or quoted by anyone without direct permission from me. It’s only when we believe in the person who makes it that we’re able to put weird stuff in our mouth.’