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In the Miso Soup [Paperback]

Ryu Murakami , Ralph McCarthy
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 17.50
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Book Description

March 28 2006

From postmodern Renaissance man Ryu Murakami, master of the psychothriller and director of Tokyo Decadence, comes this hair-raising roller-coaster ride through the nefarious neon-lit world of Tokyo’s sex industry. In the Miso Soup tells of Frank, an overweight American tourist who has hired Kenji to take him on a guided tour of Tokyo’s sleazy nightlife. But Frank’s behavior is so strange that Kenji begins to entertain a horrible suspicion—that his new client is in fact the serial killer currently terrorizing the city. It is not until later, however, that Kenji learns exactly how much he has to fear and how irrevocably his encounter with this great white whale of an American will change his life.


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From Booklist

Easygoing young Kenji makes good money guiding Americans through Tokyo's seamy nightlife. His teenage girlfriend has no objections, as long as he reserves New Year's Eve for her. But Kenji's latest client, a simmering psychopath called Frank, disrupts those holiday plans. He wants to regale Kenji with crazy monologues as he hypnotizes low-level sex workers. A fat man with superhuman strength, skin that's metallic to the touch, and an unsettling habit of telling contradictory lies, Frank immediately raises the guide's hackles. Kenji even suspects that this ugliest of Americans dismembered a local schoolgirl and immolated a homeless man. But until he can prove his suspicions--and for a disturbing while after--Kenji will keep leading this monster man from one bizarre scene to another. It's a compelling nightmare for Kenji and the reader, who both hope he'll either wake up screaming or escape and alert the cops. Instead, everyone remains in evil's thrall until it's too late. A wicked meditation on the worst traits of American and Japanese society, this is a creepy culture clash indeed. Frank Sennett
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A writer with talent to burn . . . Fellini and Günter Grass, David Bowie and Dostoevski, García Márquez and Mike Leigh’s Naked all come to mind." —Gary Indiana, author of Rent Boy



"A blistering portrait of contemporary Japan . . . one of the most savage thrillers since The Silence of the Lambs." —Kirkus Reviews


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Literary slasher novel? April 7 2004
By kevnm
Format:Hardcover
Kenji meets a serial killer through his work and spends a couple days with him. There's some slaughter, of course, which Kenji passively observes (maybe he's hypnotized by a Visa card. It's complicated.). Anyway, the serial killer is philosophical (uh-oh) and his monologues (and Kenji's reactions) provide some astonishing psychological and sociological critiques: maybe there is no "real" self! Oh yeah, and a lot of people are lonely and others care only about material goods!
This is a cut above (pun intended) lots of slasher trash, but it's not nearly as profound as it thinks it is. Recommended for moody, reflective teens and young adults entranced by the combination of gore and aimless disaffection.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A long wait is rewarded . . kind of March 28 2004
Format:Hardcover
It seems like I have been waiting for years, since reading Coin Locker Babies, ATB and Sixty-Nine, for another Ryu Murakami story to read. Now that I have it, I can neither say that I am dissapointed nor wholly satisfied.
I guess that "In the Miso Soup" is categorized as a "psycho-thriller" and other reviews have been negative due to the amount of violence in the book. The story is based in the seedy world of the Tokyo sex trade, so naturally the overall theme is dark and the subject matter for adults. Although there is violence, none of it seemed overly gratuitous to me, and is there mainly to flesh out the characters.
The book is relatively short, which is a let-down after the great saga of Coin-Locker Babies that I enjoyed so much. "Miso Soup" is a good and solid thriller-type story that although not spectacular, is very enjoyable and full of seemingly factual information (on Japanese club/sex/night life).
This book is a must-read for Ryu Murakami fans, since who knows how many years it will be until the next story comes along.
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5.0 out of 5 stars the saltiness of blood March 24 2004
Format:Hardcover
... If one takes a look at the constant themes of violence, explicit sex, drug use, etc. that commonly appear in Murakami's novels and his screenplays, he wrote the screenplay for Miike Takashi's _Audition_, one would know that this slim novel is not your typical glimpse into "oriental" literature, whatever that might be in this day and age.
The reader sees modern Japan through the first person point of view of Kenji, a 20 year old man who through his decent English, acts as a guide for foreigners in the sex districts of Tokyo, mainly the kabuki-cho. He is relatively successful and lives a decent life and his able to keep his young girlfriend happy as well. Then he meets Frank. Frank is an odd individual who has come to Japan to indulge in the water trade. Things go seriously wrong after that. I don't want to go into much detail, but Frank is an extraordinarily brutal individual and some of the scenes in this book will make your stomach turn.
Besides being an entertaining read, this book also gives the reader, a picture of contemporary Japan. Many people I talk to say they are interested in Japan because of its culture and stuff, but they know little about the modern society of Japan. This book gives the reader a look at a darker less ideal Japan.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A book that excites you then forces you to think Feb. 6 2004
Format:Hardcover
In the Miso Soup, by Ryu Murakami, is the kind of book that brings up many emotions and stays with the reader long after they have finished it. It is not a long book, although there are long sections that seem to pleasantly drift on for a long time, and there are moments of gripping excitement.
Being of half-Japanese descent and having been to Japan twice, I remembered seeing a few seedy districts in the bigger cities and wondering what went on there, but knew to stay away. I am about the age of Kenji, the narrator (he is 20), and this book really offers interesting insight into the two cultures of Japan and The United States. In his relationship with Frank, Kenji learns many things about his own country. The book also offers an interesting look at the sex industry in Japan and the various people who inhabit it. It also offers an interesting look at those who kill others, and of course has an element of one of my favorite topics, the lonely man.
This book was one that I thought about when I wasn't reading it and kept me interested throughout. This book has a definite re-read value despite some of its thriller-ish aspects and really made me think about myself, my own culture, and helped me learn more about the Japanese way of thinking. This book is not for the faint of heart or the easily offended as there are viciously detailed depictions of violence and descriptions of the sex industry in Japan.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting and thought provoking April 11 2004
Format:Hardcover
While not usually a fan of the "slash and trash" genre, Murakami's newest gives a reason to explore the subject of the serial killer. Examining both Japanese and American stereotypes and ideosyncracies, the book gives a fascinating portrayal of the "man on the edge". The book moves quickly and was over way before I was ready for it to end. While not his best work, this was worth waiting for. In many ways I can see this as "American Psycho" done correctly. The violence is a little over the top in some sections, but in a kind of quirky style, so not really offensive. Nice translation, no real issues there.
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