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Pub Date: April 30th, 1966
Publisher: New Directions

Yukio Mishima has demonstrated his talent as a novelist, playwright, short story writer, and it is as the latter that he appears here (with one exception, a play). Again his acid-etched artistry is on display, invoking glimpses of black humor and the absurd. The title story records the transformation of a mother who has lost two of her three children (and the sister-in-law who attended them) on a beach in summer. It is a tale of subtlety with overtones and the final thrust that Mishima is fond of making. Other stories introduce a happy young couple enjoying their evening hours before they are called upon to perform the act of love for hire; the spiritual transcendence of a great priest and a great courtesan in an unlikely love. Patriotism is a perfect exercise in juxtaposition of love and death as a passionately alive and loving husband and wife complete a suicide in the honorable (and horrific) tradition; Onnagata explores the emotional intricacies of the Kabuki world where the actor who must perform in the role of woman onstage carries his femininity into his own life and wreaks a special havoc. Altogether, these are adroit performances and something more: they evince a certain way of seeing--a vision at once aware of and at a remove from passion, a cynicism which also hints at compassion.