Hotel Iris

Clouded Sky - Miklós Radnóti Well, what can I say about this one. This is another book that is an example of what misleading summaries can do. My expectations for this book were I guess a bit too high as well, or somewhat off. Either way I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected myself to.

I knee what kind of book this was, about the twisted relationship between the girl and the translator, but at times I feel the book was a bit TOO successful in getting its point across. The sock episode for example made me grimace, shudder, and rip my own socks off my feet because it felt wrong somehow in that moment. I had something more like Lolita in mind however, as well as more well structured and engaging plotline than what greeted me on the page.

The story was rushed. The summary made me expect that her mother would end up discovering their relationship and that she would get involved in trying to end it, the way I would say is typically happening in these sorts of books. Perhaps it is a good thing that this book strayed from that trend somewhat, yet my issue still stands with the fact that the summary was misleading, making me expect some intense rising action and ground breaking climax where there was none. The ending was an interesting one, I will say, and one I enjoyed. It came far too fast, as some other people before me pointed out, and didn't leave much room for a conclusion to happen.

The writing was beautiful. It's probably the one thing I actually enjoyed in this book and the reason why I finished the book so fast. Ogawa succeeded in her character establishment and setting description, in my opinion, and if there's one thing that was truly beautiful in this whole twisted and rather dark story was that sunny beach town and that somewhat shabby but still somehow appealing Hotel Iris. It was the little details as well that called to me, especially the blind rich Iris who was a guest at the hotel, or the descriptions of the goddess Iris and Mari's dream about the goddess with all her colors of the rainbow. At times the writing was too much, pulling me into a scene where I didn't want to be, such as all the humiliating and, again, somewhat disturbing scenes of Mari and the translator, but the rest of it I enjoyed. I liked that I never found out the translator's name, so I couldn't sympathize for him or create some kind of distinct and unique image just for him. From a technical point of view this book was quite successful and wonderful (again though, the ending could have had some more attention devoted to it). Mari as well - her character confused me, the way she felt so choppy and bland that I couldn't really see much of the reason why she ended up in such a situation, or what was so amazing about her that attracted the translator. Perhaps that was part of the charm or the idea that I failed to pick up. For me however her character was, quite honestly, a nuisance.

This is quite different from what I usually pick up to read and the experience was worth the try. Perhaps I'll even take a look at more of Ogawa's work. What I definitely know is that I'll look into Japanese literature again in the future. Hotel Iris could have been something quite darkly beautiful and intriguing yet failed to hit the mark, the same way that the goddess Iris failed to visit the young Mari who then gave up hope.