The Crimson Thread of Abandon
Translated with an Introduction by Elizabeth L. Armstrong
2014, 146 pages
ISBN 978-1-937385-49-1 Paper $23.00
ISBN 978-1-937385-50-7 Cloth $45.00
The crimson thread noted in the title of this book aptly describes the nature of Teriyama’s stories and the interstitial webbing joining them together thematically by the metaphorical twisting together of unrequited love, abandonment, irremediable separation, and disappointment. Told in the manner of fantasy and magic realism, the stories are populated with characters who face the vagaries of fortune, happiness always just out of their reach.
Terayama is a realist speaking through the medium of fantasy. The stories are “tales for adults,” and indeed they are written in such a way as to mimic and sometimes parody classic fairy tale style. Yet, these tales are far from traditional in content; rather, they turn our conventional thinking and expectations upside down.
This topsy-turvy world of Terayama is unsettling and disconcerting at times, but his world is, without a doubt, thought provoking.
Terayama Shūji (1935–1983), one of the most prolific “outlaw” writers in the 1960s and ‘70s in Japan, produced an enormous body of work in multiple genres ranging from poetry, essays, and novels, to short stories, film scripts, and plays.
Elizabeth Armstrong teaches Japanese language at Bucknell University.