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The Box Man: A Novel av Kobo Abe
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The Box Man: A Novel (utgåvan 2001)

av Kobo Abe

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygDiskussioner / Omnämnanden
8201720,536 (3.62)1 / 76
Kobo Abe, the internationally acclaimed author of Woman in the Dunes, combines wildly imaginative fantasies and naturalistic prose to create narratives reminiscent of the work of Kafka and Beckett. In this eerie and evocative masterpiece, the nameless protagonist gives up his identity and the trappings of a normal life to live in a large cardboard box he wears over his head. Wandering the streets of Tokyo and scribbling madly on the interior walls of his box, he describes the world outside as he sees or perhaps imagines it, a tenuous reality that seems to include a mysterious rifleman determined to shoot him, a seductive young nurse, and a doctor who wants to become a box man himself. The Box Man is a marvel of sheer originality and a bizarrely fascinating fable about the very nature of identity. Translated from the Japanese by E. Dale Saunders.… (mer)
Medlem:Jennzillahead
Titel:The Box Man: A Novel
Författare:Kobo Abe
Info:Vintage (2001), Paperback, 192 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:
Taggar:Ingen/inga

Verkdetaljer

Kartongmänniskan av Kōbō Abe

Senast inlagd avjncc, jooniper, Mattbr, -Pia-, hoyaHanhiae, twharring, stretch
Efterlämnade bibliotekEeva-Liisa Manner
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» Se även 76 omnämnanden

Visa 1-5 av 17 (nästa | visa alla)
I got about three-quarters of the way through this book while telling myself the whole way, "keep reading, maybe it will get better". I did not enjoy this book. I wanted to enjoy it, since I'm usually very into books with similar styles. It's hard for me to pinpoint what was wrong with it. The concept was interesting, the very fluid prose is something I normally like, the confusion over what is real and what is imagined... All the pieces seem right, but it just didn't work for me.
  widdersyns | Jul 19, 2020 |
Weird but in a Kafka way, not a Murakami way. It just left me bored. ( )
  Aug3Zimm | Nov 12, 2019 |
It's a good book, juggles fiction, poetry and more theoretical writing in a way which allows the reader a variety of writings on the core theme of the novel: being a viewer/being viewed. What makes or breaks the book, in my opinion, is the changing of narrators. At first, it's manageable, playful - Calvino-esque. However as the novel goes on, it's more and more difficult to keep track of who's who. Sure, this is a great decision to illustrate the anonymity of the box m(a/e)n, but after a while it detracts from the stories being told.
I also wanted to like the asides and pseudo-marginalia but most of it didn't add much to the story, it felt more deployed for texture. At first it was decent for characterization, but ultimately it made me feel as if there were bigger plans to try to have the pages of the book resemble the inside of the box, and for whatever reason it didn't fall through.
Overall, an inciting, original and somewhat erotic story which is unnecessarily strayed through the anonymity (and perhaps even physical constraints) it attempts to emulate. ( )
  michaeljoyce | Dec 4, 2017 |
My first reaction, after I finished this: What did I just read?

I like the books I read to make some sort of sense, even if it's only at the end that everything comes together. The Box Man felt like it was composed of pieces that would eventually form some kind of bizarre whole...except then they didn't. Or at least that's how I felt. This is the kind of book that reminds me why I so rarely venture outside of reading genre fiction.

It started off promisingly enough. The Box Man begins by writing, in excruciating detail, how one constructs a box man's box, and what it's like to start living in one. He describes the experiences of the man who shot the box man, why he began writing his notes, and the offer he received for his box, via the nurse's apprentice. It was all very strange stuff – just strange enough to carry me along, not so strange as to push me away. The book was ever-so-slightly unpleasant to read, and yet I couldn't not read it, propelled by a need to know where Abe was going with all of this.

At some point, I realized that I couldn't be sure what was real and what wasn't. A snippet of conversation between the doctor and the nurse's apprentice indicated that at least some of what the Box Man was experiencing was, in fact, in his head. The Box Man maybe realized this as well, leading to a convoluted shift in his conversation with the doctor, in which they discussed the reality of their current situation. Was the Box Man really there, having that conversation with the doctor, or was he in his box, writing about the meeting with the doctor that he would have in the near future as though it were his present? Or was the Box Man the creation of some third person, who was writing about the Box Man writing about his conversation with the doctor and the nurse's apprentice?

Things got even more bizarre from that point on. There may have been a murder, maybe two murders. The nurse's apprentice might have become a captive, willing or unwilling, or maybe that was all just in the Box Man's head. If I had to say what this book ended up being about, the best I could come up with would be: identity, lust, voyeurism, and an intense desire to see but not be seen.

The Box Man, whoever he was, may have started down the road to becoming a box man after a humiliating, yet sexually exciting, experience involving his first attempt at voyeurism when he was a boy. My theory is that most of what happened in the book was the hallucinations of the Box Man as he bled to death after being shot. The doctor, the nurse's apprentice, and all associated characters were figments of the Box Man's imagination, maybe fragments of his own experiences and feelings. That would, I think, explain some of the more bizarre aspects of the doctor's story, as well as the strange impression I got that the nurse's apprentice wasn't actually a human being, but rather just a collection of attractive body parts.

While I found this to be a compelling book, it wasn't an enjoyable one. I really wish the ending had been even just a little less ambiguous – I was left feeling like Abe had taken the easy way out. There are plenty of stories that are strange and unsettling, and yet don't leave the reader adrift at the end. I don't consider The Box Man to be one of those stories.

(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Sep 24, 2013 |
A strange, dry, inhuman book: just the kind of thing I like. "Box men" are homeless men who walk around inside cardboard boxes. The boxes are fitted out with viewing portholes, little shelves, hooks, and supplies. Three things make this book strange, and the last two also make it bitter, misogynistic, and misanthropic.

1. I read the book because it uses photographs, and I am trying to survey 20th century books that use illustrations in fictional settings. This book has one of the oddest uses of photography I've found. There are a half-dozen grainy black and white illustrations distributed through the text. Each one has a few lines of text underneath. At first it seems those captions are excerpted from the novel itself, but it turns out they aren't. Even at the end of the book, a reader isn't quite sure where those text excerpts are supposed to come from. Of the half-dozen photos, only the first one connects with the narrative: it shows a figure walking away into the darkness. It fits, sort of, with a central episode in the story. In general, we're supposed to think the photographs are made by the narrator, a box man and photographer; but they aren't described in the text. It's as if they come from a separate part of the narrator's life, and their accompanying texts come from a diary the narrator doesn't mention. And that lack of reference becomes itself increasingly odd.

2. The descriptions of the box are so vivid, so precise and unexpected, that it seems they could only be the result of actually building such a box and living in it. Abe is extremely precise about what goes into the box—what the box man carries around with him—and how such a box is constructed. I would expect that from any realist or surrealist novel; but those details are inserted into unexpected places in the narrative, where they would only occur to someone who has actually spent time in such a box. The stains on the inside of the box, the uses of a small shelf under the observation window, the uses of a plastic tablet—they outdo Nabokov in their myopic realism, and they produce, for me, a creeping sense that the novelist did more than just research his subject. I haven't looked into this, but it wouldn't surprise me if there were such things as "box men" in 1970s Japan, and if Abe wasn't one himself. That's a kind of narrative unreliability that goes well beyond what a reader might infer about the author of "In Cold Blood" or "Lolita."

3. Those first two points are quizzical and memorable. This last point is unpleasant. The story turns around a "box man," another person who may want to become a "box man," and a nurse they both like. The other man is explicitly a Doppelgaenger and projection of the narrator, so in terms of men's roles, the book is about the nakedness of walking around in public without a box, the temptations of the box's security, and the odd feeling of slipping out of society and living in, and as, a box. In terms of women's roles, the book is substantially more bleak. The nurse only exists in the story to take off her clothes and pose. She is watched by the "box man," once from outside a window, and later from inside a hospital room. The narrator fantasizes about cutting her up and eating her, but that's just a passing thought. Mostly he is stricken with embarrassment about his own body, and the sum total of his idea of relations with women is watching them undress. It's an openly childish, openly masturbatory fantasy. Over the course of the book, the effect of that relentless, unreflective, supposedly natural way of representing relations is extremely unpleasant. If Abe had thought of this state of affairs ironically, or if he had tried to analyze it, or if he had presented it as a degeneration of normal relations, then it could have worked: but when he wrote this book, Abe's imaginative universe was so shriveled, so dried up and poisoned, that he could only imagine women as things that are peered at from inside cardboard boxes. I have no problem with violent, misanthropic, deranged or psychotic narratives or narrators: but this one is also unreflective, and therefore especially sour.

The narrative is quirky to the point of opacity, often uncontrolled, wandering, and shapeless. At one point the narrator admits he has made up the other "box man" entirely; several pages are devoted to a fantasy of turning into a fish and drowning; the narrative is often interrupted by notes about the color of the writer's ink or the nature of the paper he is writing on. I take all those shapeless experiments as strategies to keep writing, to get the bizarre story down on paper. I also take the entire novel as a purge: Abe has lived this way, somehow, and somehow he wants to get past it. A fascinating and very memorable book. ( )
  JimElkins | Jan 20, 2013 |
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Kobo Abe, the internationally acclaimed author of Woman in the Dunes, combines wildly imaginative fantasies and naturalistic prose to create narratives reminiscent of the work of Kafka and Beckett. In this eerie and evocative masterpiece, the nameless protagonist gives up his identity and the trappings of a normal life to live in a large cardboard box he wears over his head. Wandering the streets of Tokyo and scribbling madly on the interior walls of his box, he describes the world outside as he sees or perhaps imagines it, a tenuous reality that seems to include a mysterious rifleman determined to shoot him, a seductive young nurse, and a doctor who wants to become a box man himself. The Box Man is a marvel of sheer originality and a bizarrely fascinating fable about the very nature of identity. Translated from the Japanese by E. Dale Saunders.

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