THE BOX MAN by Kobo Abe

THE BOX MAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Who is that social drop-out withdrawn inside an old refrigerator carton converted into a metaphysical tortoise shell? It begins when the anonymous protagonist uses a rifle to get rid of that strangely disturbing Box Man camped outside his window before he creeps off into the Tokyo nigh and finds himself pursued by a nurse and her doctor-keeper with his rifle. Is there a doctor inside the box identical to the Box Man -- or is there a drug-addicted alter ego whose medical license, wife and personality he usurped? Identities just like that Chinese box, until the reader discovers the book he's reading is the scribbling covering the inside of the box; and it's hard to say which more terrifying -- being sucked into box-consciousness, or being spied upon from the window-slit by the cold eyes of that weird liberated creature who has abdicated social responsibility for andre Existential levels switch from anonymity to hibernation to misanthropy to euthanasia. Lack of emotion in this narrative notebook threatens what shreds of humanity the newsprint world of overcrowded modern Tokyo hasn't already overwhelmed. A philosophical puzzle "with many pieces missing and filled with flights of imagination" passing through the labyrinthine entrances and exits of ego-space that grows more illusive, more allusive ("the clues are numerous, and it is reasonable that the truth should exist in proportion to their number"), not to mention elusive. Deep waters, way out beyond Abe's Woman in the Dunes -- a powerful emotional experience.
Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1974
ISBN: 0375726519
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1974




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