Edition: Tuttle Publishing collection entitled Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination.
The six degrees of separation between myself and the works of Japanese mystery writer Edogawa Rampo (1894-1965) goes something like this: Around age 12 my family rents John Carpenter’s Halloween which scares the crap out of me so I just have to rent Texas Chainsaw massacre (again scared shitless) and quickly become an official horror fan so I rent every American horror movie I can which eventually (after the 80s) leads to a growing disappointment in the genre which leads me to try foreign horror which leads me to www.nicheflix.com where I rent The Grudge (yes, before American’s had even heard of it and long before the semi acceptable remake) and my interest in horror is completely revived after more than a decade of dullness which leads me to wonder about Asian horror literature. That’s when I find Rampo. He’s often called the Edgar Allen Poe of Japan so I had to check him out.
I’ve purchased the book Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination, a collection of Rampo’s short stories. So far I’ve only read the first story, The Human Chair. Though I think his “style” is not like Poe, his character’s obsessive behavior and the sort of Psychological stuff is there only without the veil of delusions, madness, or possible supernatural stuff making the first person narrator completely unreliable (though all first person narrators are somewhat unreliable I know). This sort of “veil of madness” may present itself in other stories but wasn’t a part of this one even though you do have to wonder about a man who would choose to live inside of a chair….wait, ok, maybe he is mad.
I don’t think I really loved this story until the end. The “twist” makes the story fun. I like the progression from the realistic to the bizarre to the scary near the end. The story maintains that certain something that I can’t quit describe that Asian stories have….almost something akin to Fairy Tales in the modern world. Now that I’ve enjoyed the first short story in the collection, I really can’t wait to read the others.