KANGAROO NOTEBOOK by Kobo Abe

KANGAROO NOTEBOOK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The final novel "completed" by the late Japanese surrealist author (d. 1993) of such Kafkaesque contrivances as The Woman in the Dunes (1964) and The Box Man (1974).

It's the hallucinatory account of its unnamed narrator's undiagnosed illness (radish sprouts grow out of his body) and hospitalization, during which he experiences, or fantasizes, a series of Alice-in-Wonderland-like adventures: a journey by hospital bed along a "river of fire" where he's harassed and befriended by "child-demons"; meetings with a sensual nurse collecting blood samples ("Dracula's Daughter") and a ghostly harridan who may be his mother; and encounters with a genially violent karate master ("Mister Hammer Killer") and a nearly comatose old man targeted for euthanasia. One senses the implied theme of a resigned passage toward death, as well as the presence of such subthemes as familial estrangement (expressed in the title motif), AIDS, abortion, and radiation sickness--but one cannot be sure. Overall, the novel is simply too unrelentingly bizarre, and perhaps too private, to be confidently interpreted.

It feels unfinished.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-679-42412-1
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1996




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