The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea

The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea by Yukio Mishima

I’m grateful that there’s a seemingly endless list of translated Japanese books. I wish every book were available in every language. We can probably do that now with models, but ironically these models can also do the original writing.

1) “Rex enjoyed a reputation for uncanny discernment of fine quality, particularly in imported men’s wear and accessories.”

Rex is a luxury shop.

2) “‘The important things are the boxes and wrapping – they’re the reality of a gift, don’t you think?'” – Yoriko

In Japan, yes.

3) “‘That sailor is terrific! He’s like a fantastic beast that’s just come out of the sea all dripping wet. Last night I watched him go to bed with my mother.'” – Noboru

The plot vacillates between highly disturbing and woefully mundane.

4) “He checked himself for pity; like a lighted window seen from an express train, it flickered for an instant in the distance and disappeared.” 

This really captures the magic of train riding.

5) “Charges Against Ryuji Tsukazaki ONE: smiling at me in a cowardly, ingratiating way when I met him this noon.”

Noboru and Ryuji only interact a few times in the entire story, but every interaction is an unmitigated disaster.

6) “He would be thirty-four in May. It was time to abandon the dream he had cherished too long. Time to realize that no specially tailored glory was waiting for him.”

As with all books, it’s important to understand the author’s background and mindset.

7) “‘I’ll tell you one thing, though: no matter how long you’ve been on a ship, you never get used to storms.'” – Ryuji

No matter how many times I fly, I still pass out.

8) “Father, can you give me one single reason why you go on living? Wouldn’t it be better just to fade away as quickly as possible?”

Not since Lord of the Flies have I been so afraid of teenagers.

9) “‘I’ll seal that hole up in the morning and then we can all forget this whole unpleasant evening.'” – Ryuji

Ah ha, a metaphor.

10) “Glory, as anyone knows, is bitter stuff.”

I was not expecting the abrupt ending, but what a great punchline.

For me, this book was a mix of Norwegian Wood and Lord of the Flies. It was a very short but stinging read.

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