Also, sexual frustration or deviancy seems to have a correlation with choosing the "box. Tension is great between box men and the rest of society. Later, he has interactions with a fake box man and a woman who seems to be perpetually nude. Overall, I enjoyed the format and the issues the story examines. An unconventional read. May 10, Sergio rated it really liked it. A surreal tale about a fragile identity, and a place of the individual in this uncertain world. We are ready to believe the narrator, but before long we are asking who is he and how much can we believe of what he tells?
Was it a real experiment or mystification, fantasies of a troubled mind, or just a dream? There can be numerous interpretations. May 26, Andrew added it Shelves: japanese-fiction. So much abject horror. I liked Woman in the Dunes more-- it was more straightforwardly existentialist, made a bit more sense to me, retained powerful imagery-- but I still had a lot of fun with this one.
Note the overwhelming predominance of films on So much abject horror. Note the overwhelming predominance of films on this list I know there are probably deep Freudian drives at work through the characters, but I don't know a great deal about that, so I'll leave that discussion up to someone with a degree in Lacanian psychoanalysis or some such thing. The whole thing is a car crash of modern primitivism, medical science, questions on authenticity and identity, and uncomfortable sexuality. Create two wheels, one with various psychoanalytic concepts, and one with themes from the Box Man.
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Spin simultaneously. Blam, instant thesis generator! Shelves: novels , japanese. Kobo Abe made really high quality, surreal fiction. Note: That fucking mad-ass t Kobo Abe made really high quality, surreal fiction. Note: That fucking mad-ass trick where I totally deflated the sentence before it was finished is known as "Shirkery". Nov 03, David rated it really liked it. I found this playfully odd, though serious at the same time. I think I overall preferred "The Woman in the Dunes," but there were some parts of this that I preferred over that.
I suppose that doesn't really help anyone real much reading this, but with this book I don't think you can hope for that. Oh well, back to the box. This is another masterpiece from Kobo Abe. In its sheer metafictional ingenuity, it probably surpasses Nabokov's Lolita , Danielewski's House of Leaves , and other tricksters of modernism. Seemingly, it's a story about a man wearing a cardboard box getting involved in a mysterious series of events involving a beautiful nurse he falls in love with, a fake doctor who wants to become the new box man, and a real doctor who is a drug addict and who is Damn-- J-Lit Binge The Box Man by Kobo Abe.
Seemingly, it's a story about a man wearing a cardboard box getting involved in a mysterious series of events involving a beautiful nurse he falls in love with, a fake doctor who wants to become the new box man, and a real doctor who is a drug addict and who is killed with his consent by the fake doctor. And things get all weird as it seems like the "book" is written by the fake doctor and then the real doctor. Then the "author" returns to the original voice and starts rambling, asking the reader rather incoherently to find out who was NOT the box man instead of who was the box man.
Things get even more confusing as events seem to happen out of chronological order and there are these footnotes inserted by someone The story ends more or less abruptly and you're left to wonder what just happened and WHO wrote the story. Of course, the book is meant to be read more than once and it's supposed to make sense. So I cheated and looked up. It's crazy how many tricks the author manages to squeeze into this seemingly simple, short story clocking at pages, which would probably be about pages in US-size books.
First, there are these discrepancies and contradictions throughout the text, and the reader can figure out when the author is lying. The rules of good detective fiction applies to the book. So for example, all the clues are given to the reader. As a realist story, any ridiculous things—like the claim that there are countless box men in the country—cannot be true. The footnotes that describe the pen's ink and handwriting, for example, cannot be false because they are specifically for the reader OUTSIDE the story.
This is a simple story with some crazy metafictional background stuff going on, and it's mind-blowing and mind-muddling. Abe took six years in completing this and it makes sense. It's that complex and innovative. Highly recommended, but only for those who like this kind of stuff. View all 5 comments.
May 18, Tony rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction. I will admit I'm perplexed by this book. There's a lot going on at the same time as there's very little action, and a dense cloud of unarticulated identities. The questions of identity and perception, originating from and reflecting back upon the self as well as piercing one from an outside source, are the central concerns of the story, and in problematizing common conceptions of these ideas, the narrative itself becomes problematic, approaching meta-narrative and introducing other tangential el I will admit I'm perplexed by this book.
The questions of identity and perception, originating from and reflecting back upon the self as well as piercing one from an outside source, are the central concerns of the story, and in problematizing common conceptions of these ideas, the narrative itself becomes problematic, approaching meta-narrative and introducing other tangential elements like the questions of authorial identity and intent, and the duality of our own voyeuristic tendencies - watching because we are desperate to be watched ourselves, or else because we're incapable of it.
Linking a lot of these themes is a muted acknowledgment that Japanese society or perhaps any form of Western-style culture underlies the tensions at work in the novel. Lurking somewhere just below the horizon, or perhaps looming above and out of sight of the observation window, is the world at large from which the box man has excommunicated himself. This particular aspect is addressed more thoroughly in The Ark Sakura where one might recognize a re-imagined box man, fake box man, doctor, and nurse , but even here it is significant that the box man withdraws into his corrugated shell, where everything essential in life is literally within arm's reach, where one is responsible to no one but him or her self, and where typical social desires can be sublimated into the dualism of misanthropy and self-loathing.
Just an aside for all you Freudians - it is perhaps the most pivotal revelation of the novel that the primal scene, at least as experienced by the box man, is of a voyeuristic nature altogether different from what we find in the annals of classical psychoanalysis. Jan 19, Andrew Bourne rated it it was amazing. Why have I read this 3 times? People always say it is inscrutable, though must it be scrutable , what is valuable about scrutability anyhow? Yes, Abe is using a lot of modern fiction devices--compression of time, faulty narrators, plot hiccups, and even some of my personal fiction peeves.
But he is sort of a prankster, a rug-puller, a juggler, a humorist, and I appreciate that, especially some of the more wanton chapters towards the end. Does that make any sense? Yet, I do not think it is inscrutable, or random. I wonder if females take an interest in this book because I find it intensely male, all wrapped up in the problems seemingly specific to men and the construction of their identities, so-called careers, flights from responsibility, sexual objectifications, social personas, formative embarassments, fatherhood issues, relation to women, wasteful fantasy, general ineptitude, violent solutions, guilt and so forth.
The female characters,despite some background rounding, exist primarily to give the male narrators an excuse to chew themselves up Selfishness is a word that pops into my mind. Aug 09, Jeremy rated it liked it Shelves: japanese-literature. Abe is a writer who takes one really odd, central conceit or image, in this case, that of a derelict who lives his life inside a cardboard box, and builds a dark, disorienting world out of it.
There are bizarre shifts in time, identity and perspective as the box man sort of disintegrates and becomes whatever or whoever he sees around him. Much like 'Woman in the Dunes' which I thought was much better, Abe makes these absurd scenarios bleed outward and infect everything around them. Kind of like Abe is a writer who takes one really odd, central conceit or image, in this case, that of a derelict who lives his life inside a cardboard box, and builds a dark, disorienting world out of it. Kind of like with the whale from 'Moby Dick', the symbol at work here seems to simultaneously represent everything and nothing but itself, which is kind of the point I think?
This whole thing works because Abe's prose has this clinical, scientific precision, and he puts that to good use describing the skittering, staccato world of an impossibly weird individual. This is a deeply beguiling, deeply weird book. Mar 19, Jim rated it it was amazing Shelves: fiction , asian-lit , postmodern. The Box Man is about a peculiar form of homelessness in which a person inhabits a large cardboard box with a curtain viewing slot for interacting with the outside world.
The narrator begins by shooting a box man with an air rifle, before deciding to become one himself when he orders a new refrigerator and gets an ideal box for the role. He himself is shot by an air rifle by a doctor or medical orderly, who himself decides to become a box man. Involved is very kinky voyeuristic sex with the new box man's nurse girlfriend. Abe is always interesting, even in his lesser novels, of which this is not one. Dec 19, Tenma rated it did not like it Shelves: japan.
Good grief! If possible, I would have given this thing a negative rating What an atrociously boring book.. His "the woman in the dunes" was equally boring, but at least it had a story line that you could decipher in between the lines If I ask you to write pages of whatever comes to your mind about yourself wandering around with an oversized box on your head, you would probably write a far more entertaining book than this I guess this is what Kobo Abe Good grief!
I guess this is what Kobo Abe did when he pinned down his thoughts in this book, which I would not dare call a novel.. It is not even social commentary Just a babbling about nothing If you enjoy reading other peoples' rambling thoughts about whatever, then you probably would enjoy this However, if you are looking to read something fun, entertaining, educational, or just to kill time then by all means I have four other of his novels on my list to read and I am already feeling the pain I found this really intriguing at the beginning, but there's such a thing as too weird.
The Box Man is like finding some random pages torn out of the diary of a very troubled person, reading them, and afterwards having a fragmented nightmare in which you simultaneously inhabit and observe an unfamiliar body. Interesting, yes, but not exactly pleasurable. It's oddly impenetrable: quite easy to read, yet I felt like I wasn't taking anything in except some exhaustively dull descriptions of a woman getting naked, the protagonist's leg fetish, and hysterically serious repetition of ideas about 'box men'. Actually, I think this was part of my issue.
The box man thing itself. The concept has no internal logic, and doesn't make any sense within the story, never mind without. Also, the more I read, the more I realised that things I initially assumed to be quirks of the narrator's voice were more likely errors in the translation. View 1 comment. Jun 06, Sonia rated it it was ok Shelves: have , df-summerreading-challenge. At the onset, I was charmed.
I thought I was going to enjoy this book, but then something happened. While in a fugue state, I took a hit of acid or od'd on hallucinogenic shrooms because I seriously don't know what the fug else happened in the book. Let's set aside the fact that it's seriously sad that whilst in said fugue state, rather than going out and accidentally killing a hooker, I read instead.
I'm getting visuals of skinny girl legs pumping a bicyle, an empty box under a bridge, two bo At the onset, I was charmed.
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I'm getting visuals of skinny girl legs pumping a bicyle, an empty box under a bridge, two box men staring at each other, a bunch of garbage, and the stench of my own unwashed confusion - scarily similar to the body odor emitted by a box man after a hot August day.
Oh wait, I didn't have any acid or shrooms to take, so the book must have just been a Lynchian nightmare I had after eating too much KFC. There were some redeeming qualities but mostly this book was just finger-lickin not for me. Dec 04, Sarah rated it liked it Shelves: nippon. The problem of being looked at.
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Gazed upon. I wish Kobo Abe had been a feminist. Overall, I found it too conceptual to actually like. By chance, I happened to be handling a lot of boxes during the course of reading this and I have to say they're difficult to resist. They kind of want to be placed over the head. Jul 03, David rated it really liked it Shelves: big-red-circle. I liked this much more than I expected.
I planned to say something like "Kobo, you can type this shit, but you sure as hell can't read it. There's two or three really good bits amongst a very tolerable amount of po-mo bullshit writing upside down, photographs, characters arguing over who is writing the story, etc. View all 3 comments. Aug 31, Brandon rated it it was amazing. I've watched all five of Teshigahara's films of Kobo Abe's stories, so picked this up as supplementary identity-crisis deleted-scene. One quick airplane-bound reading later, The Box Man reigns as the best, most insane Abe story, the excellent films knocked down to second place.
Jan 31, Spencer rated it it was ok. Me: "That book was very strange. Jun 10, Bbrown rated it really liked it. This book, featuring a main character that walks around a city with most of his body covered in a large cardboard box, hits a variety of off-the-wall tones I'm not going to go over the "action" of the book, as the experiential aspect of reading this one is far more important. As a matter of personal preference, I much preferred the whimsical tone it starts out with and sporadically returns to, rather than the other tones and the erratic shift between them, which while understandable , is what made me find this book good but not great.
The city is a place of social overload, where you are always surrounded by people, become addicted to constant streams of news, and obsess over material goods. Abe believably presents the allure of being a box man to escape these conditions, the large cardboard box being a bubble of isolation in the midst of the city. The box man attains freedom from social obligations, but not at the cost of societal judgment: the box, and the anonymity it provides, protects from that.
While a panhandler has done away with his shame for a livelihood that relies on being noticed, a box man retains his shame and relies on being actively ignored to survive. Living in a box, the materialism and social overload of the city are eliminated, as you retain only the essential objects and only interact with other people minimally. Of course, being a homeless person living in a cardboard box in real life would not give any of the tranquility depicted in The Box Man, but Abe taps into the desire to get away from the stresses of modern life and makes the depiction effective.
The unnamed box man protagonist not that anyone in this book has a name is the narrator of this work, and, as previously mentioned, he starts out writing of his life in a rather whimsical tone, giving instructions on how to make a box man box of your very own, depicting the creation of a box man, and more. This same whimsical tone reappears at times during The Box Man, such as in the story where a father pretends to be a horse, which provides the historical roots of the box man phenomenon. However, a far more surreal tone and a substantially darker tone manifest throughout the course of the work as well.
As the book gets further along, the darker narration takes the form of hallucinations of death, and the very ending of the book has a passage that seems ripped from a horror movie. The writing is good, with some striking visuals, the ideas are fresh and presented interestingly, and overall I enjoyed it very much.
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