RevengeRevenge by Yoko Ogawa is a spare collection of odd and macabre short stories. Ogawa’s writing is deceptively simple and straightforward, and then a twisted sentence falls like a cold dead fish on the page, startling and out of place.

I picked up the next coat, turned it inside out, and shake it. Something falls out of the pocket and rolls across the floor: a dried up plum. Looks like a testicle.

These sorts of disagreeable observations are the quick of the stories, and make them fascinating. Ogawa favors topics like medical oddities or devices, deformities in nature, obsessions, rot, and the juxtaposition of the healthy with taint.

Each short story is connected in some way, even a minor way, to a previous story in the collection. Each story is also narrated in the first person, but that narrator is never the same first person. Sometimes the narrator is a character from a previous story. As I began to catch on, I enjoyed this device and found myself reading quite carefully for clues as to who the narrator might be—and making mental notes to watch for in the next story.

I am not much of a reader of short stories, but this collection worked well for me probably because of the interconnectedness of all of the tales.


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