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review
nathandrake1997
Life Ceremony: Stories | Sayaka Murata
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Pickpick

Trigger warning: (cannibalism, incest, sex)
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Normal. A word that sounds as ordinary as the mundanity of existence does. But, what exactly is normal? Is it merely what's widely accepted? Or is it something else? But, who decides what's widely acceptable what's not? A bunch of humans? A species with a dubious moral compass? (Continued in comments)

nathandrake1997 ....Sayaka Murata challenges the notion of existential normalcy in her latest short story collection LIFE CEREMONY. The collection begins with a story about how in the current state of "normal" in the world the characters inhabit, the body parts of deceased humans are being used to make clothing, furniture, home decor, jewellery, etc.... 2mo
nathandrake1997 ....From tables being made out of human bones to the most expensive kind of rings being made out of human tooth (this is in a world where opting for jewellery made from minerals like platinum is considered as scrimping), just like a coconut tree, every part of the deceased human is used to make something..... 2mo
nathandrake1997 ....The protagonist wears a fur jacket. But, not the kind of fur jacket one usually wears. The fur jacket here is made of human hair. The protagonist's fiancee is repulsed by the idea of human remains being used in manufacturing goods. The protagonist comes home wearing the aforementioned fur jacket.... 2mo
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nathandrake1997 ....The fiancee is repulsed and this leads to a row between the two of them. A few days later, the protagonist and her fiancee visit her fiancee's folks. There it is revealed that her fiancee wasn't on talking terms with his father and his father passed away five years before..... 2mo
nathandrake1997 ....It is then revealed that the father's dying wish was for his skin to be turned into a veil that his son's partner would wear for the wedding. This wish puts the fiancee in a dilemma at first. But gradually he starts warming up to the idea and asks our protagonist to wear the veil.... 2mo
nathandrake1997 ....Now why does his thought process change is something I will leave the reader to discover since I have already spoken about a lot in the story. But, the key takeaway here is the fiancee's character arc that charts a course that begins from being repulsed by something to accepting that very something. This in a way is also the tonal graph of this short story collection.... 2mo
nathandrake1997 ....The initial stories are unsettling in tone, in spite of the content itself being not as graphic as one would usually imagine. Then, in a unique twist of narrative and tonal genius, the content of the stories grows progressively more grotesque but the tone changes to a much warmer emotional hue.... 2mo
nathandrake1997 ....An example of this being that in one of the stories in the latter half of the collection, the most heartwarming moment is the instance when the protagonist stares at a puddle of vomit and contemplates the contents of the vomit as well as the process of bodily enzymes breaking down food into vomit.... 2mo
nathandrake1997 .....This story, aptly titled "Puzzle" is in a way the key piece of the thematic puzzle that Murata presents us with. The puzzle here being the reader's trajectory of finding the very things heartwarming that they initially found grotesque.... 2mo
nathandrake1997 ....The titular story "Life Ceremony" is about a cannibalistic funeral ritual being normalised. Instead of a traditional funeral, family and acquaintances invited to a life ceremony partake in a meal. A meal cooked using the flesh of the deceased. Then, a few members in the gathering start having sex, referred to here as "insemination" in a bid to produce a child, since the population is at an alarming decline.... 2mo
nathandrake1997 ....The flesh of the deceased is in a way meant to serve as a means to procreate and in a way permeate the existence of the deceased since it is believed that all the sperm ejaculated during the insemination in a life ceremony contains a part of the deceased, so even though their mortal remains have ceased to exist, their "life" continues a living-breathing existence.... 2mo
nathandrake1997 ....Sayaka Murata's EARTHLINGS was about the Kafka-esqe absurdity entrenched in the mundanity of our day to day existence. LIFE CEREMONY takes similar themes present in EARTHLINGS and amplifies them to 11. But, in a rare literary feat, the amplification here not only works, but also does wonders for Murata's surreal and magnificently transgressive storytelling.... 2mo
nathandrake1997 ....And just like EARTHLINGS, LIFE CEREMONY is replete with delightfully surreal and transgressive humor as well. In one of the most hilarious instances of the book, two characters discuss about what being "normal" means and how normalcy is basically all about accepting and absorbing oneself willfully in the current socio-political/existential illusion that society has created..... 2mo
nathandrake1997 ....A few lines later, the character mouthing the aforementioned lines is killed in an accident. We then find out that, this particular character wanted his life ceremony to be a lavish, "fine dine" spread and he has left behind recipes of different delicacies into which his flesh can be cooked.... 2mo
nathandrake1997 ....There are other callbacks to EARTHLINGS as well. In one of the stories, a character mentions about having an active sex life with her cousin who lives in the mountains while in another story a couple are engaged in an asexual marriage while in another story a woman believes that she is the descendant of a species from an alien planet.... 2mo
nathandrake1997 ....The callbacks are numerous but the writing stays staggeringly original and that's what yet again proves Murata as one of our greatest living authors ❤️ 2mo
13 likes16 comments
review
Megabooks
Life Ceremony: Stories | Sayaka Murata
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Pickpick

This short story collection, while classified as literary fiction, definitely has some horror elements. Murata explores cannibalism and wearing people‘s skin, bones and teeth. It‘s from the perspective that cremation and the care for bodies after death is strictly a cultural phenomenon, which she subverts. She subverts sexual norms as well in a story where people feast on a dead person then have sex with a stranger in public. Weird but good.

BarbaraBB This sounds very weird! I love the cover though and it is Japanese of course 😉. Beautiful pic too! 2mo
Megabooks @BarbaraBB it was definitely weird, but I kind of expected that from Murata. 🤣 thanks re: the picture! 2mo
MicheleinPhilly There is someone in my book club who somehow brings every discussion around to cannibalism. She‘s a freak but I should recommend this to her. 2mo
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squirrelbrain Definitely sounds rather weird, as does your book club friend @MicheleinPhilly ! 😬 2mo
MicheleinPhilly @squirrelbrain She‘s more of a strange acquaintance. I prefer my friends be relatively normal. ☺️ (edited) 2mo
erzascarletbookgasm I like Japanese weird 😊 2mo
Megabooks @MicheleinPhilly that definitely sounds like an odd acquaintance! 🤨🤨 but I do think she‘ll enjoy this, but it may give her too many ideas! 🤣🤣 2mo
Megabooks @squirrelbrain it was definitely bizarre! 2mo
squirrelbrain Oops @MicheleinPhilly - I should have written ‘friend‘, not friend! 🤣 2mo
Cinfhen For me it‘s more weird than good 😁😂 2mo
Megabooks @Cinfhen lol! It wouldn‘t be one I‘d recommend to you! 🤣🤣 2mo
72 likes4 stack adds12 comments
blurb
Twainy
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My MBR is now over ten feet high. This is a chonker of a book!! I‘m certain there will be buddy reads I‘m excited!

Thank you for the swift delivery Goldsboro!

I hear this has the flavor of The Name of the Wind. I love a good coming of age story so we shall see!! It‘s a beautiful signed/dated SE with block sprayed edges and a lovely 5X7 art card.

review
julesG
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Bailedbailed

#UnpopularOpinion

This read like The Name of the Wind with a South Asian twist. That might not be bad. Yet, my tastes have changed since I first read TNOTW. Lots of people will love this epic high fantasy, but the voluble prose couldn't hold my attention. I DNF'd at 28%.

#ARC #NetGalley #MountARC

#20in4 #readathon @Andrew65

Andrew65 Oh dear 😔 3mo
66 likes1 comment
blurb
julesG
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Let the #20in4 #readathon begin.

@Andrew65

I'm starting with an #ARC that was published about a week ago. 😬

#MountARC #NetGalley

Andrew65 Great to have you with us, good luck 😊 3mo
42 likes1 comment
review
Christyco125
Jade Legacy | Fonda Lee
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Pickpick

Finally finished the Greenbones Saga. This had its up and downs and pulling of the heartstrings moments. Sweeping 30 year history of a clan family, I can see why it has been compared The Godfather series.

blurb
Branwen
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I just recently picked these two new fantasy books up, and they are HEFTY! 😱 The Art of Prophecy is over 500 pages and the tagged book is over 800! I love big books! 😍💕📚

ravenlee …and you cannot lie, you other readers can‘t deny… 3mo
Branwen @ravenlee YES! 🤣😂👏🏻 3mo
47 likes1 stack add2 comments
review
lauraisntwilder
Life Ceremony: Stories | Sayaka Murata
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Mehso-so

I really enjoyed about half the stories and the other half...not so much. I *wanted* to like all of them, but I felt like there were a lot of repeated ideas, themes, and storylines from her novel Earthlings that were executed better in the novel.

review
MinnieTimperley
Life Ceremony: Stories | Sayaka Murata
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Mehso-so

A collection of 12 very surreal and unsettlingly stories. Murata definitely has an imagination. She seemingly takes taboo ideas around relationships, sexuality, food and the human body and spins her tales around these.
A collection of 12 very surreal and unsettlingly stories. Murata definitely has an imagination. She seemingly takes taboo ideas around relationships, sexuality, food and the human body and spins her tales around these.

MinnieTimperley If you have a delicate stomach this collection may not be for you. That said, the writing is not gratuitous. Murata's style is detached and this results in writing that in less delicate hands could be seen just to have been written for shock value. There are things to be shocked at in these pages but then Murata seems to be leading the reader to reflect on how societal norms influence ideas of acceptability.

4mo
46 likes1 comment