From the publisher's website:
A lonely teenaged girl falls in love with her foster-brother as she watches him leap from a high diving board into a pool - an unspoken infatuation that draws out darker possibilities.I thoroughly enjoyed reading both The Housekeeper and the Professor, and Hotel Iris, by the same author (click on the links to read my reviews) a couple of years ago. So I'd been meaning to read this collection of three of her earlier stories for quite some time now and I'm glad I finally did.
A young woman records the daily moods of her pregnant sister in a diary, but rather than a story of growth the diary reveals a more sinister tale of greed and repulsion.
Out of nostalgia, a woman visits her old college dormitory on the outskirts of Tokyo. There she finds an isolated world shadowed by decay, haunted by absent students and the disturbing figure of the crippled caretaker.
Much like the two novels, the stories here are told in lovely, spare prose, almost elegant in their simplicity. However, where The Housekeeper and the Professor is a quiet, sweet story, Hotel Iris is a dark, disturbing story of obsession and violence. The stories in The Diving Pool are somewhere in between.
At the start, they each appear simple stories of the everyday. In The Diving Pool, a teenage girl watches her foster-brother, who she is infatuated with, practice diving. In Pregnancy Diary, a younger sister records the details of her sister's pregnancy. In Dormitory, a young wife visits her old dormitory when her nephew starts university and needs a place to stay. But as we read on, the stories begin to reveal the little cruelties of human nature.
The effect is subtle, but Ogawa does a good job at creating tension without you even realizing it. By the end, each story has become something rather unsettling, and in the case of the last story especially, downright creepy. The more time that passes since reading these stories, the more they seem to haunt me.
Revenge, a new collection of stories by Yoko Ogawa, has just been published, and I'm quite looking forward to discovering these new dark tales.
Other thoughts on The Diving Pool:
Contemporary Japanese Literature | Sam Still Reading | Melody's Reading Corner | JoV's Book Pyramid | The Parrish Lantern
The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa
Translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder
Harvill Secker, 2008
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