Sunday, May 30, 2010

Book Review: Ryu Murakami, Audition (1997)

Aoyama is a widower whose teenage son suggests that it might be time for him to remarry. When Aoyama mentions this possibility to a friend who works in in the film industry, the friend hatches a scheme to find Aoyama an attractive young wife quickly: They will launch a phony film production and will interview aspiring actresses for the nonexistent lead role. Despite his initial reservations, Ayoama goes along with this plan, succumbing to the fantasy of "himself surrounded by ten or twelve lovely, intelligent, refined young ladies." As in a traditional American noir of the 1950s, in which an ordinary guy in dire financial straits cannot resist the temptation of easy money, Aoyama has cast his lot and will face unpleasant consequences. While these American noirs are sometimes read as commentaries on the American Dream (promised to all, attainable to some),
Audition seems a commentary on the situation of young women in Japan and the willingness of a decent man such as Aoyama to treat them like fruit in a supermarket. Grade: B

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