The Box Man: A Novel Paperback – Jul 10 2001
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The nature of identity itself is the ostensible subject of this bizarrely fascinating existential novel from the great Japanese fiction writer and dramatist Kobo Abe. In the story, a man decides to give up the self that he has been all his life to attain a state of blissful anonymity. He leaves his world behind and moves onto the streets of Tokyo. He puts a large box over his head, cuts a hole for his eyes. It is as strange as it sounds, but Abe's light touch and narrative innovation makes it compelling. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“A spellbinder from beginnning to end, an edgy masterpiece.”–Chicago Sun-Times
“A stunning addition to the literature of eccentricity…an ontological thriller.”–The New York Times
“Brilliant…. Like Kafka’s, Abe’s work reveals an astonishing ability to create dreamlike events."–Chicago Tribune
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Top Customer Reviews
Despite one somewhat clumsy, facetious dialogue between two characters about just who is a figment of whom's imagination, the book unfolds in a pleasing, well-organized mess of philosophical musings and subtleties.
There are elements of identity problems in this book, as far as I can see anyway. The person lives in a box, he/she doesnt have a name, and he/she usually only looks at people while they in turn, people, only see a box, if that. That's pretty cut n'dry. Again, there are other books that attack this idea more vicously. See: Fight Club
My biggest problem with the book is this: I have no clue if the box man was a murder or not. I love biggest problems and I consider this to be a rather large one, unanswered questions. So, Ill give this my recommendation, but, will the joke be on you?
Upon picking up The Box Man and reading the first page, I naively and laughably thought that this was to be a sort of social commentary or just a story about homeless people. No, that wasn't at all the case. Apparently, unlike a regular homeless person, a "box man" has some sort of extremely deep philosophy that singles him out as someone who lives on a higher plane of existence. Except after reading the book, I came not a bit closer to understanding what this philosophy is, or to caring about finding out. This was exacerbated by Abe's extremely self-indulgent style, in which no concern is exhibited for time or flow, random unidentified narrators come and go with no warning, pages and pages are occupied with pseudo-intellectual "societal observations" and uninteresting non sequiturs, and so forth.
Keep in mind that such a style doesn't have to be bad. Plenty of authors like to jump around in time and make up their own stylistic rules. Plenty of authors like to wax eloquent about society. Plenty of authors come up with absurd premises and make great works out of them. But there are authors who do this well, and those who do not.Read more ›