If you’d like to have a look into the world of other ‘seemingly normal’ people to see if they’re just like you or hiding a secret, then you’ll enjoy The Mad Kyoto Shoe Swapper And Other Short Stories. You’ll find out no one is as they appear and you’ll think these stories are complete fiction as they couldn’t possibly be true…or can they be…?
Thank you to Tuttle Publishing who kindly sent me a copy of this book to read and review. I have not been compensated in any additional way, and the opinions that follow are entirely my own.
The Mad Kyoto Shoe Swapper And Other Short Stories is based on stories the author, Rebecca Otowa, has experienced or observed herself or one that others have told her or that she’s read about in news reports over her 30+ years in Japan.
Japan is a unique country with so many rules and acceptable ways of doing things; certain ways to present yourself to others. Sometimes I wondered what goes on behind closed doors and how people are when they’re ‘themselves’ or if they know who they ‘are’? Does the pressures of life and society get to them?
Open up this book and you’ll get a glimpse into the private goings-on and see Japan has just as many unique characters as other societies. I don’t want to give away all of the stories within, but I’ll touch on a couple here to give you a taste.
My main job in February was to clear out and organise our attic, so with that on my mind, I dove in and began in the middle of the book with “Uncle Trash.” The story goes like may TV hoarding shows – but has an ending which you will not be expecting!
Many people outside of japan have heard about the high number of suicides there and that a number of them take place in a particular forest. “Rhododendron Valley” follows Suzuki, who believes he has cancer (he didn’t go to the doctor for the results of his tests) but doesn’t want to face up to it or disappoint his wife. Instead, he prepares himself to end things as it’s the only solution he can think of…
From the ghost world to feats of strength and honour to unhappy marriages and family businesses, there is variety amongst the stories.
The Mad Kyoto Shoe Swapper will have you wondering how well do you know your friends and neighbours – or even your own family? What are the skeletons that lurk in the closet or just belfow the perfectly crafted surface of their façade? Are they really laid-back and happy with life, or are they murderers?
Most of the stories in this book end on a bit of a downer or leave you wondering why, or what happened next, like real life, not everything is tied up and you must come to your own conclusions. However, I really liked this book; in fact I read it in less than a week, which is rare for me these days. It’s an easy read and you can sympathise with the characters, given their circumstances.
If you like being a fly on the wall, then add this book to your shelf!