Snakes and

Hitomi Kanehara
David Karashima,

Lui wants to get a fat stud in her mouth. No, no --- not that kind of stud. Rather, a metal one, that you jam into and through the tip of your tongue. Ultimately, she wants to get it split, presumably so she can speak with forkéd tongue.

Her hunky honey Ami has a dragon tattooed down his back, and is into the split tongue routine too. He had "stretched his tongue hole to 00g [that's a whopper --- Ed.] so he only had to cut about 5mm with the scalpel, but it still bled a surprising amount." Notice the crypto-scientific detail.

Lui wants one of those bleeding tongues, too, and a big eyeless dragon down her back to boot. No eyes, so it can't fly off (she tells us it's old Japanese lore that blind dragons will not leave you behind).

So they go to see Mr. Tattoo Man, Shiba-san, and guess what? Lui gets hot because he looks so deliciously cruel, what with his studs and whips and belts and other diverting instruments of puncture and torture. Lui also finds herself rather smitten with the idea of being half-strangled to death in the bed of love, the ultimate coitus interruptus.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, some other stud --- not of the metallic variety --- makes a play for her on the street. Ami gets snippy, and quite casually beats the shit out of the pick-up guy, ends up beating him to death. Our couple escape into the alley as the police sirens wail.

One day, as Ami is off working --- working! --- Lui takes up with the tattoo-master, who wears "a faceful of piercings that gave him an intimidating look." Shiba-san tells her that he has the hand of God. "But what should I do if I find myself suddenly overcome with the desire to kill you?" he wonders aloud.

Never one to fret, Lui murmurs: "Then that would be that, I guess."

§     §     §

We are told that Hitomi Kanchara, author of this nonsense, is only twenty years old. Further, that Snakes and Earrings won the Akutagawa Prize for encompassing some of the most senseless, bloody violence, abuse, and self-abuse in modern-day Japan. Oops, I mean it is "the top Japanese literary award for new writers" which must mean there's a serious dearth of talent around Tokyo these days. "There was nothing for me to believe and nothing for me to feel," says Lui.

    In fact the only feeling with the power to kick me back to life was the feeling of acute pain.

We've seen (and heard) this one before: so many times, so many places. These young writers, filled with piss-and-vinegar, tromping the lilies, elevating vulgarity to new heights ... of vulgarity. And , in this case, being cited by The New York Times --- shades of Abe Rosenthal, tumbling about in his tomb --- "A powerful portrait of the post-bubble generation ... it is a world of 'freeters' ... of unsentimental sex and a profound inability to communicate verbally."

When whips, spurs and casual murder pale, we are given some post-modernist juvenile delinquent philosophy:

    "If you were God, what kind of human would you create," I asked.

    "I wouldn't change how they look. But I would make them as dumb as chickens. So dumb they'd never even imagine the existence of a God."

When dorky, lurid, vacuous, retarded, senseless, neurasthenic juvenile literature starts getting praised to the skies, remember --- as we chickens often say --- that the sky may be falling.

--- Lolita Lark
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