The Human Chair by Edogawa Rampo (short story)

**this review originally appeared on my wordpress blog

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.

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2 thoughts on “The Human Chair by Edogawa Rampo (short story)

  1. “The Chair” is my favorite story in that collection. I was very happy to see that a copy of that book last year. I’d thought they’d never sell Rampo’s books in our country.

    1. I can’t remember how I heard of the collection, but was intrigued and had to check it out….I’ve really enjoyed it. He really should be better known here. “The Chair” has really stuck with me…gives me chills when I think of the ending 🙂

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