Book Club November: 火車 by 宮部みゆき

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Fireblend, Nov 30, 2019.

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What did you think?

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  1. Fireblend

    Fireblend ABLF

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    Welcome to MafiEra's book club discussion for November. This month, we read:

    All She Was Worth
    by Miyuki Miyabe

    [​IMG]

    Let discussion begin! (I did read it, will participate as soon as I'm able to!)
     
  2. Sawneeks

    Sawneeks Queen Doppelpopolis

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    I'll get a post with my thoughts later but this has been sitting in my head since I finished it. Where do you think she hid the skull?
     
  3. turmoil7

    turmoil7 more than six maelstroms

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    The notes I took so far are: I liked the end of chapter 5 (the photo twist)

    Chapter 11 was pure dread (mizoguchi's info drop)

    That last part killed my enthusiasm for the book
     
  4. turmoil7

    turmoil7 more than six maelstroms

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    I will try to finish it, tho
     
  5. Sawneeks

    Sawneeks Queen Doppelpopolis

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    Definitely recommend trying to finish up the book if you can, turmoil. It's a fun ride up to the end.

    The photo twist was a really good one. Such a small detail at the start turned into a big deal as you keep reading only to find that out. Really shows how this story could only ever really take place before social media/information was more widely distributed like it is nowadays.
     
  6. Natiko

    Natiko Town's Friendly Neighborhood Serial Killer

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    I enjoyed it quite a lot. I know others were turned off, but I actually enjoyed the detailed way it slowly unfolded and started ramping up over time. Ultimately if I had one complaint it would be that it was a bit too ‘neat’. There was a lot of clue A leading directly to clue B leading directly to clue C etc.
     
  7. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    Only about halfway through it but I'm line half enjoying it. I don't mind spoilers at all so I'll join in as I can. One minor gripe, the first half seems like a handful of scenes just repeating. Talk to kazuya at home, talk to isaka, talk to the lawyer, talk to kazuya, talk to isaka, talk to the lawyer. One the other hand, i appreciate the methodology to it. I've complained a bit on discord but really could do without some of the details on changing family registries and declaring bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the long explanation of the financial lending system in general did the job nicely of introducing what, from the English title seems to be a major premise for the rest and also characterizing people who at the point are just the split illusion that honma is chasing
     
  8. Natiko

    Natiko Town's Friendly Neighborhood Serial Killer

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    Yeah, I really enjoyed how methodical it all was. I feel like typically stories like this have a more uncannily talented investigator who pulls out impossible details to solve crimes. This one instead was a more believable ramp up. The only bit that was a bit harder to swallow was when he correctly solved the case of the other detective.
     
  9. Sawneeks

    Sawneeks Queen Doppelpopolis

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    100% agree with Nat. The methodical nature of going through everything, explaining how certain processes and legal changes work, etc. were oddly fascinating to me as the book went on. I don't know how much of it is based on reality or how much of it is fictional but it was a really well thought out look into this crime and how it worked.

    I will say it was amusing to me to see the secretary of the smaller business company have to look up a word/meaning of a word in a dictionary. I'm young enough where I don't remember a world before search engines and instant information so I never really would've put tow-and-two together that dictionaries like that would've been more common place.
     
  10. Sawneeks

    Sawneeks Queen Doppelpopolis

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    Bit of a side note, did anyone else notice a bit of prejudice whenever the author would talk about Osaka or people from there? I kept getting the feeling the author really disliked those people and thought a lot less of them. Reminded me a bit of how some people in the US think less of those with a southern accent for example.
     
  11. Natiko

    Natiko Town's Friendly Neighborhood Serial Killer

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    You know - I didn’t pick up on it myself, but now that you say that I can totally see it. I wonder if (at least at the time) that was a common stereotype or if it’s specific to this author.
     
  12. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    was there even a point to that part? that was one of the last things i read and it seemed really out of left field.

    I haven't noticed it but will keep an eye out. He's (the character) been pretty neutral on Saitama which sometimes gets a bit of ribbing.
     
  13. Natiko

    Natiko Town's Friendly Neighborhood Serial Killer

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    Not really that I can recall. It more seemed like an aside to show another angle to how society is changing at the time.
     
  14. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    What do you think of this angle? The author is a woman writing a male character widening his view of women. Afaik, this ties in just insofar that Honma realizes he would not have been able to change his thinking in the way to understand the case without the case he's on. Reminded me of an article I read a few weeks ago about Europol putting out a campaign targeting female crime. This book is from '92 iirc and we're still seeing this line of thinking in action. Not only that, but also the judgement and dismissal of the poor and indebted. Japan is not renowned for its progressiveness but do you think Miyabe takles these in a meaningful way overall?
     
  15. Natiko

    Natiko Town's Friendly Neighborhood Serial Killer

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    I definitely think the author is sympathetic to both women and the poor. I think it becomes increasingly clear as the story progresses and we start to get more details about what led to the main crimes being committed by Kyoko. I don't think the author goes so far as to forgive the crimes (especially given the brutal details), but there is certainly a lot of effort put into explaining why she felt trapped in her life. It explains how the trouble she finds herself in didn't even originate with her. She moved on and tried to make a life for herself and even that was ruined by the debts of her father. I don't think it's an accident that the author paints Kyoko as trying to 'do right' by Shoko.
     
  16. CaptainNuevo

    CaptainNuevo MDTLA Enthusiast
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    Honestly I liked this way more than I expected it to, given that I've never been huge into the detective-novel subgenre. It felt kinda like a train the whole way through, starting slowly and then slowly gathering speed as the end approached in a way that was very interesting. I do agree that the tendency for every fact to neatly lead into the next lead, and the fact that all his journeys were fruitful eventually was kinda too perfect, but it was at least interesting to see how each one unfolded to the next clue.

    One thing I wonder is how accurate the picture of Kyoko was. While I agree the author was somewhat sympathetic in aspects of the portrayal of her, all we know and hear of her is second-hand information from people who either have only partial information, or are likely very biased in their interpretations of her actions (in the case of her ex-spouse). A huge portion of the investigation was him slowly revealing pieces of information about her Kyoko and hearing different people recount their memories of her, and then the detective piecing them together to get an understanding of how she was as a person. I really wish we'd had at least 1 chapter of hearing her talk, or getting some actual idea of her first hand to get a comparison of how accurate the picture he came up with was.
     
  17. CaptainNuevo

    CaptainNuevo MDTLA Enthusiast
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    Also I laughed in hindsight at @Fireblend 's comment about whether or not this author was related to Murakami. That ending is some straight Murakami stuff.
     
  18. Natiko

    Natiko Town's Friendly Neighborhood Serial Killer

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    I can see where you're coming from, but I can't say I'm surprised we never got that. The novel does a good job both making Kyoko out to be sympathetic in what happened to her previously, while also detailing just how gruesome her act was (the dismemberment). I think the ambiguity in the end is purposeful.

    I almost wonder if the end was a conscious choice to avoid characterizing Kyoko directly too much. How do you reconcile the 'sentimental' side of her actions with the brutality of them? In all likelihood she would have just come across as manipulative which I think works against so much of what the novel seems to have wanted to tackle. I'm actually surprised the dismemberment was included at all when looking at it from that angle, but I suppose the author may have felt it was the cleanest way to execute the crime.
     
  19. Fireblend

    Fireblend ABLF

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    Right? You should let me know if The Memory Police has a similar style to its ending, maybe there's a strong japanese literary tradition of making books 50 pages shorter than they should be.

    Personally, I have mixed opinions of the book. I thought it was very "plain", like what Feps described of it being hyper methodical and going from point A to point B very neatly with somewhat little tension or cleverness and I did have to force myself to finish it. On the other hand I actually enjoyed the description of registries and financial terminology and all that though, and was kinda disappointed the second half was a bit lighter on that stuff.

    And yeah despite Kyoko obviously being at fault and very much deserving of punishment, the book seems to aim its criticism mostly at the failings of the financial system and the people caught in debt's downward spiral are portrayed as victims.
     
  20. flatearthpandas

    flatearthpandas Round Moon Bears

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    Can you go more into this? Reading the part in Osaka now and not getting that feeling at all so far