Friday, September 21, 2007

Happy birthday to this blog, plus a note on Tokyo Year Zero

Today is the first anniversary of the first Detectives Beyond Borders post, which I mention because I have read that few blogs last this long. Mine, I think, is beyond the teething stage by now and is even walking on its own. So, thanks to all of you who have read and commented over the past twelve months. Keep on doing it, and tell your friends, colleagues and loved ones to join you.

I begin the new blog year with another post about Tokyo Year Zero, this time about its technique. Author David Peace has interpolated memories, presumably the narrator's, and sound effects of the decaying and rebuilding Tokyo into the novel's text. The interpolations are set in italic type, which fairly screams Technique! The same is the case with the frequent repetition of sentences, sometimes with minor variants in word order.

But Peace has put the technique to exceedingly good use. The constant ton-ton-ton-ton of hammers and the repetition are highly effective ways of translating the noise, squalor and monotony of a war-ravaged city into terms a reader can understand and feel. The devices are far more effective than exclusively descriptive passages would be, though Peace offers plenty of those, too, and does it well. Peace makes the squalor a part of the very texture of the narrative. He does as good a job of describing war's effects on people's minds and daily lives as does Yasmina Khadra in Morituri.

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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23 Comments:

Blogger Bill Crider said...

Congratulations in getting through Year One! I'm sure you'll celebrate many more anniversaries.

September 21, 2007  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Many mysterious returns!

September 21, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Thanks, gents!

September 21, 2007  
Blogger sally906 said...

Happy blogging birthday - may you have many more.

Hoo Roo

September 22, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Thanks, ma'am!

September 22, 2007  
Anonymous Hamish said...

Happy birthday, DBB: You're a beacon in the dark blogosphere, Keep it up.

September 22, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Murky and dense at times, perhaps, but dark?

But I thank you, too. Maybe if I make it through a second year, I'll throw a party in some suitably convenient location.

September 22, 2007  
Anonymous KarenC said...

Happy birthday to your blog as well Peter - you've added such a valuable and interesting voice to the blog'o'sphere :)

September 22, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Thanks. I still don't work as hard on my site as you do on yours!

September 22, 2007  
Blogger Declan Burke said...

Happy birthday, DBB ... may there be many more to come.

September 22, 2007  
Anonymous krimileser said...

Congratulations for the first year ... so we wait happily for the party after the second year.

September 22, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Danke schön and thanks. Maybe instead of a party, I'll get on a plane and go thank each of you personally.

September 22, 2007  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

"thank each of you personally."

Mr. Gates, please pick up the white courtesy phone. ;)

September 22, 2007  
Anonymous LauraR said...

Happy anniversary! Tokyo Year Zero is very impressive - David Peace uses language and structure in such an inventive, poetic way. I can't think of any other crime writer off hand who does this.

September 22, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Let's see: I stop off in Hawaii on the way to Australia, and I see if I can manage to work in a few various and sundry layovers around the globe ...

September 22, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Thanks, Laura. I'll be able to judge the novel's structure better once I'm done with it. The language I can judge already, and it works. I don't know any of Peace's other work. It would be interesting to see if he creates settings similarly in his other novels.

I wonder if he regarded it as something of a gamble to write Tokyo Year Zero the way he did. It's one thing to write that the sounds and smells and sights of a broken city seeped into every fiber of the narrator's being. It's another to give a reader a idea of what that must feel like. To do that and to carry off a murder story, or a story of any kind, at the same time is quite a feat.

September 22, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

And what's this "Mr. Gates" stuff? I didn't say it would be my own plane!

September 22, 2007  
Anonymous Michael Walters said...

Congratulations on the anniversary, Peter - here's to many more years of excellent blogging.

With regard to David Peace, if you read his earlier books you'll see that 'Tokyo Year Zero' represents a natural progression rather than a stylistic gamble. What makes this book different is that it's his first set outside the UK or, for that matter, outside Yorkshire, even though he's lived in Japan for many years. His early books show a strong James Ellroy influence, but I think he's long transcended that. His books have all been extraordinary re-tellings (re-imaginings?) of real events - the hunt for Peter Sutcliffe (the so-called 'Yorkshire Ripper'), the 1984 UK miners' strike, even the soccer manager Brian Clough's short and ill-fated tenure at Leeds United football club. The last of those sounds particularly unpromising subject-matter, but makes a remarkable and haunting book. The settings of these earlier books are intensely English, might prove an initial barrier to overseas readers - I don't imagine that Brian Clough or Arthur Scargill occupy quite the same place in the US psyche as they do for those of us in the English north. But, if you can overcome that hurdle, you'll find them a remarkable read.

September 23, 2007  
Anonymous Ann said...

Belated happy birthday, Peter. I think any blog that's worth writing will keep going. So, please keep writing.

September 23, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Thanks for the note, the kind words, and the insight about David Peace, Michael. Brian Clough and Arthur Scargill are not as evocative here as they are there, but the Ellroy influence might be a selling point in the U.S.

It's interesting you should mention Ellroy because his name occurred to me in connection with Tokyo Year Zero. I read and enjoyed L.A. Confidential years ago, but his more recent stylistically self-conscious books don't attract me. Tokyo Year Zero is similarly conscious of its own style, even an exercise in style, but Peace makes it a part of a compelling story, so it works for me.

September 23, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Why, thank you, Ann. I'll almost surely keep reading, so I think I'll keep writing as well.

September 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations, bon anniversaire, buon compleanno, pola Chronia, to this blog...
Evanthia

September 24, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Thank you, merci, prego and ευχαριστώ! I have enjoyed your blog and your comments on mine.

September 24, 2007  

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