5.0 out of 5 stars Nip the Buds
This was the first book by Oe that I have read, and although it's probably not one of his better known books (he wrote it when he was just 23) I found it very powerful and insightful. The story itself reminded me a bit of William Golding's Lord of the Flies (which was actually written a year AFTER Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids was published). The major difference I found...
Published on Aug 31 2002 by Charles E. Stevens
3.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite moments but uneven translation!
There are moments in this novella in which Oe's descriptive ability and allegorical vision combine to produce a work of power. Oe is fairly new to me, but the broader historical horizon in --and of -- which he writes is not. Perhaps as a result, I found the story deeply moving, on many levels. As a writer, however, I have to say that I found the translation very...
Published on Sep 3 1999
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4.0 out of 5 stars A punch in the stomach...,
This review is from: Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids (Paperback)That's what my wife told me when I picked it up to begin reading it. But that's what a good book is supposed to feel like. And it did. It was dark, cruel, and painful,, and contained vivid descriptions of inhumanity, though it was not without its moments of humor.
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark, beautiful, tragic.,
This review is from: Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids (Paperback)My introduction to Kenzaburo Oe, "Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids" struck me with the force of a bamboo spear. With his beautiful prose (and the complementary translation by Mackintosh and Sugiyama), Oe paints his characters with the brush of traditional Japan but in the style of a contemporary miscreant. Throughout, the book conveys relentlessly brutal portraits of an altered, horrific reality.
From the moment the reformatory boys are introduced to the end of their abandonment and the narrator's final, fearful sentences, Oe drags the reader through the hell of his ambiguous setting. Pulled along with the narrator, his brother, and their reform school compatriots, the reader follows into the nightmare of a plague-infested village and their utter isolation. While the boys struggle to eke out their existence and build lives in their newfound freedom, one is constantly on edge awaiting the collapse of their delicate system. When, finally, the villagers return and the madness of the world indeed crushes their fragile independence, the reader emulates the boys in their sense of relief and subsequent betrayal.
One of Oe's first novels, the deft manipulation of the reader's emotions and interactions between the characters promised great things for the young writer. As I begin another of his books, I cannot help but agree that he deserved his Nobel.
5.0 out of 5 stars Nip the Buds,
This review is from: Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids (Paperback)This was the first book by Oe that I have read, and although it's probably not one of his better known books (he wrote it when he was just 23) I found it very powerful and insightful. The story itself reminded me a bit of William Golding's Lord of the Flies (which was actually written a year AFTER Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids was published). The major difference I found between the two books was the difference in where the authors placed the evil forces in their book: for Golding, the evil (the gaping void, the mouth of the "Lord of the Flies) was inside of each individual. For Oe, the evil was in the system, the outside pressure from society on the group of young boys. When outside forces intrude in Golding's book, chaos ends and civility is restored. The opposite happens in this book.
Additionally, Golding's tale is an extremely universal one. The boys in the book happen to be English, but there's no reason why they couldn't be American, Japanese, Brazilian, etc. On the other hand, Nip the Buds is written with specific regard to its setting: wartime Japan. Oe himself is surprised by his worldwide appeal: he says he writes to his fellow Japanese, his own generation in particular. Several of the themes, including that of heartless, fickle villagers, is common to Japanese fiction (Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" and Abe Kobo's "Woman in the Dunes" come to mind instantly). This book in general is written with obvious scorn for senseless violence and specifically, Japan's role in World War II. This is not to say that Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids can only be appreciated by elderly Japanese people (I certainly am not in either category). But, as is often the case with Japanese literature, it's very important to try to understand the environment the author was living in and commenting on at the time.
Oe's writing is supposed to be a bit abrasive to the Japanese eye, but in translation at least, it was straight-forward and simple to read. It would be easy to call Nip the Buds a graphic book, but journalistic might be a better term. This book is told through the eyes of a youth who has seen it all. He doesn't link ideas such as love and sex or violence and killing, but often treats them as completely separate ideas. Despite the callousness in this book, there is a lot of emotion as well. The reformatory kids' bond is solid (until the end), and the tie between the narrator and his younger brother, and the narrator and the girl is very real and vivid. Seeing these bonds wrenched apart one by one until the narrator is completely alone at the end is part of the reason that Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids is such an amazingly powerful book. Oe has created a truly unforgettable work.
5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting tale that will linger in your mind for days...,
This review is from: Nip The Buds, Shoot The Kids (Hardcover)A sparse and chilling tale that recounts the worst week in the lives of 15 adolescent juvenile delinquents left abandoned in a plague infested village. This first novel of Kenzaburo Oe clearly shows his brilliance in capturing the essence of the human condition - warts and all, and why he would go on to win the Nobel prize in literature in 1994. The emotional themes of abandonment and isolation are expertly brought to life and devices such as not providing any details regarding geographic setting and exclusion of character names (with the exception of Minami and Li) will draw uneasy, slow building tension to readers. A lean, expertly translated read that contains numerous scenes and passages that will stay vivid in your memory for days on end.
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and painful,
This review is from: Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids (Paperback)I was entranced by this little book. I am new to Oe, but found the direct style stimulating. The images are strong and painful. The sense of tragedy is palpable (and seems to have pervaded the author's own life); but where there is tragedy, there must be lost beauty - and Oe communicates the beauty as well.
I'll read more of Oe's works.
5.0 out of 5 stars Shoot the Kids...,
This review is from: Nip The Buds, Shoot The Kids (Hardcover)
Oe is a brilliant writer. This was the first book I have read by him, and I was taken away. Leaving no harsh image unspoken, Oe isn't bashful about writing details that may make the reader's stomache churn.
To describe the book in a very breif synopsis, a group of reform school boys get abandoned amidst a plauge. The setting is post World War 2 Japan and the boys find a leader from the narrator, and form their own community.
Children are forced to grow up far too fast, and their age has no relevance to their minds. Once the narrator becomes an adult, and sheds his last memories of child hood, even his pride of adulthood is stripped away from him.
Filled with beautiful sentance structure and much philisophical thoughts, you will find yourself constantly quoting this book. I have reccomended it to all my friends. It is a stunning read and was a Nobel prize winner.
5.0 out of 5 stars Although very harsh a very good book,
This review is from: Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids (Paperback)From the beginning of Nip the buds... the characters and their emotions are what most captured my attention. Oe uses extrememly harsh images and the way the children are treated throughout the book disturbed me to the point of anger. These parts did not detract from the book, however, they only added to the pure, simple emotions that Oe creates so vividly. The language is very easy to read, but some scenes are not... If you are not too sensitive to fairly vulgar images i highly recommend this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, Amazing, Powerful, Raw,
This review is from: Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids (Paperback)Some people love this book and some people hate this book. I, for one, think that this is an amazing piece of literature. People who hate this book or Oe's writing in general point all too often to Oe's frank use of graphic sexual, violent, and otherwise extremely disturbing imagery (for example, a penis in the wind is at one point a very potent symbol in this book). However, Oe's real power lies in his refusal to budge in the face of convention and his use of genitals, blood, human nature, and the deepest, most carnal parts of the human heart to create a powerful work of literature. This book, as Oe's first major novel, shows his philosophy and thoughts concerning human nature, Japanese society, and the world in their raw form, even before the birth of his autistic child that so influenced his later writing (for the better). This book is about reformatory boys in wartime Japan who are ferried into a small mountain town where a plague is breaking out. The villagers flee the town when the plague gains strength, blockading it and leaving the boys behind with a few other unintended captives. ALthough prisoners these boys and their new friends may be, they soon begin to think of the village as their autonomous property and to create a just soicety, free of time and the worries of the outside world- an illusion that develops and is summarily shattered in a painful and beautiful manner. This book is amazing for the incredible desperation, frankness, fear, feeling, and symbolic meaning that Oe puts into every character and every object in every sentence. His prose has been called "like an ice pick," a statement that most probably refers to its tendancy to deliver a cruel, poignant, sharp, and necessary message through frank, thoughtful, and often disturbing means. This book IS disgusting and horrifying at points- but so is war and life in general, Oe masterfully points out. This book is not for the faint-hearted, but it is for those who enjoy thinking, great literature, and learning something fundamental about human nature. Not everyone can or will like this book, but everyone should at least try. Highly recommended, along with most of Oe's other works.
5.0 out of 5 stars A disturbing work of genius,
This review is from: Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids (Paperback)This is not an easy novel to read. From the first page to the last the reader's senses are assualted with descriptions of cruelty, violence and the various perversions of delinquent kids and savage adults. There are some moments of tenderness and consolation, but these are invariably ended by new catastrophes.
A group of kids suffer the savage blows of their elders and are then abandoned in an isolated plague ridden village under the threat of being beaten to death if they try to escape.
Comparisons have been made with Lord of the Flies. This book is stronger, harsher, with fewer moments of affection or kindness. It is set in wartime Japan and this background is quite an important element in the book, yet the story is universal, the characters and events could have been placed in any setting at any time in history.
The novel does not have a strong narrative thread. Each chapter is distinct, built round an incident and then linked into the next chapter. The heart of the book lies in the characters and their environs rather than the plot. There are countless descriptions of sights, sounds, smells, and touch - I got a very strong sense of the place where the boys live. It's an earthy, visceral novel full of blood, snow, guts, mud, sex and death.
If I had read the above description by another reviewer I probably wouldn't want to read this book, but the writing is so powerful that I quickly overcame my natural aversion to such relentlessly sordid and depressing material! A very great book, but hard to stomach at times and definitely not for all tastes.
3.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite moments but uneven translation!,
By A Customer
This review is from: Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids (Paperback)There are moments in this novella in which Oe's descriptive ability and allegorical vision combine to produce a work of power. Oe is fairly new to me, but the broader historical horizon in --and of -- which he writes is not. Perhaps as a result, I found the story deeply moving, on many levels. As a writer, however, I have to say that I found the translation very uneven. I'm "turned off" and my reading is interrupted by obvious grammatical mistakes and this text contains several. It is possible that the translators might plead special circumstances but I doubt that would really hold. From the point of view of overall quality, this translation would --I think-- have a hard time competing with Jay Rubin's work with Haruki Murakami's "Wind up Bird.."
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Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids by Kenzaburo Oe (Paperback - Jun 13 1996)
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