Saturday, 4 May 2019

If Cats Disappeared from the World

Finished April 15
If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura, translated by Eric Selland, read by Brian Nishii

I was drawn to read this book by the title. The narrator of this tale is a postman, living alone with the cat, Lettuce, that used to be his mother's before she passed away. Before Lettuce, his mother had a cat named Cabbage, and both cats were a big part of her life.
The young male narrator wakes up one morning with a headache, and after struggling for several days without relief, he goes to his doctor. When he does, he finds that his diagnosis gives him only a short time left to live. As he tries to decide what to do with that time, he is approached by a Faust inspired devil character, who gives him an extra day on earth for each item that he agrees to let disappear from the world. The young man isn't sure what to do. He is estranged from his father, single after the end of a long romantic relationship, and lives a very private life. As he is forced to choose whether his life means more than something chosen by the devil, he must also look at his own past and deal with some things he never properly resolved.
I found the idea interesting, but didn't really connect with the character. He talked about connecting his decisions to their effect on larger society, but I really didn't see that play out in the choices he made. Some of the things he agreed to let go from the world were important to other people he knew, and thus not what I would expect. Of course, I believe that the whole situation was something his brain created as a result of his illness, and thus only a reflection of this thoughts, and where they led him as he looked back on his life with regret.
A very different voice.

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