BEHIND THE WATERFALL by Chinatsu Nakayama


Email this review


This collection of three novellas from Japan, where the form seems to be thriving, are the first in English of best-selling Nakayama, and demonstrate that same subtle fusion of the universal with the particular that distinguishes so much current Japanese writing. Drawing frequently on the author's own experience in TV and on the stage, two of the three pieces--""Star Time"" and ""Good Afternoon, Ladies""--are set in the theater and a television station, respectively. In ""Star Time,"" an 11-year-old child-star tries to understand why she feels so isolated from her classmates and fellow actors, no matter how much she observes and listens to them; only when she is on the stage does she feel certain of herself and her perceptions. The second--while on one level an account of the stars and producers of a popular daytime television program that shows videos of missing men and women and, when they are found, brings them onto the show--is also about how television invades our privacy. In this particular show, a wife, who ran away with her lover to escape her brutish husband, is found and brought back against her will by a zealous producer who feels he is performing a moral service. Though disliking what he is doing, most of the men and women working on the show do not object; for varying reasons they need their jobs. The third novella, ""The Sound of Wings,"" is a love story that echoes an old legend in which a jealous husband, a middle-aged man of suffocating virtue, loses his younger wife by breaking a promise he had made to her. All three stories reflect a sensitive mastery of material, though in the last piece, the use of an actual script toward the end doesn't quite work. But Nakayama's concern with larger issues does allow us to enjoy his work on many levels. A welcome appearance.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1990
Publisher: Atheneum