jueves, 13 de octubre de 2016

The Guest Cat - Takashi Hiraide

...observation is at its core an expression of love which doesn’t get caught up in sentiment.

Those green eyes glowing in the dark ceaselessly, endowing the cover of this book with a breath of life, a dream of plenitude - those eyes were an irresistible enticement. An immediate move was imperative; The Guest Cat had to be on my shelf. Unfortunately, my expectations were far too great, especially taking into account the fact that one of the ingredients of this plot is supposed to be a couple who no longer have much to say to each other and a cat is a new bond between them. (view spoiler). However, I was able to overlook that curious fact because this novella has other qualities that make it a potentially enjoyable read. Hiraide's writing is an ode to the beauty of simplicity.

As an artist meticulously amalgamates the elements of nature with the essential constituents of humanity through the art of ikebana, with the same quiet harmony, carefully selected words interweave with a sensitive and thoughtful outlook on life, creating a luscious prose poem echoing the implacable passage of time.

She would always point out to us the importance of being natural, of being ourselves.

As most Japanese novels I have read, there is an exquisite attention to detail; everything and everyone are depicted with strokes of the most elegant form of poetry in which intimacy, an unusually expressive intimacy is a significant component. The simplicity of this story blends in perfectly with the sheer delicacy of Hiraide's language which flows softly, in a whisper; a gentle wave trying to reach somebody's shores and engulf them with meaningful contemplation.

What's interesting about animals, my wife explained, is that even though a cat may be a cat, in the end, each individual has its own character.

“For me, Chibi is a friend with whom I share an understanding, and who just happens to have taken on the form of a cat.”

Never such a poignantly lyrical prose sounded so familiar.
Funny, these aversions we have for certain things. It does make you wonder a bit whether it's some kind of karmic connection with a past-life experience, even if that's just a bit too weird.

Nonetheless, Hiraide's writing wasn't enough. This novella tells a lovely story but didn't resonate with me as much as I would have hoped. Highly evocative, this writer's words become palpable objects and serene sceneries, but amid copious descriptions of any architectural piece one may imagine and abundant lines – ranging from the ethereal to the mundane – regarding the couple's relationship with the cat and their surroundings, something was missing. I remember turning the last page and looking through the window, as if I could find out there, in the vast city, in the overcast skies, whatever it is that I couldn't find in this book.

* Photo credit: Book cover via Goodreads.
Ikebana via conyeucuaban.com
Cat and flower via Pinterest

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