Trio of stories centered on a Japanese hostess lounge.
Osaka is the setting for this series of interlinked tales about the search for human connection in a forbidding urban environment. The Sayonara Bar brings together three manic individuals trying to break free from the ghosts that haunt them. Mr. Sato is a devoted “salary man” who spends most of his waking hours at the accounts department of his office. Using work to avoid contemplating his wife’s death (he insists it wasn’t suicide), Mr. Sato lives a life of self-imposed solitude. Meanwhile, Mary, abandoned by her parents as a teen, drifts from England to Japan without much of a plan. Mary is a nomad searching for a man who will serve as a father figure and make her feel loved. She finds herself working as a hostess in the seedy Sayonara Bar, entertaining drunken executives. Each day spent catering to these old letches erodes Mary’s already meager supply of self-esteem. Mistaking lust for love, Mary takes up with a local gang-banger who endangers her life. The final misfit is Watanabe, the dishwasher at the Sayonara Bar. Scrawny and bookish, he is an extraordinary dreamer who imagines a futuristic fantasy life for himself as a supernatural being. He develops a hero-complex and attempts to save Mary, his designated damsel in distress.
Certain of these chapters might make good short stories, but Barker can’t connect them into a meaningful novel.