Michael St St itibaren Niechanowo, Polonya
Kobo Abe’s last novel feels like the Alice in Wonderland of a middle-aged man. When radish sprouts begin growing from the narrator’s legs, he seeks help at a hospital, where his bed suddenly takes him for a wild ride into a world of hallucinations. The book’s title stems from a mock business proposal in which our narrator randomly wrote down the words “Kangaroo Notebook” and was eagerly met by his associates to develop the idea of this notebook. Throughout the story pop in images of marsupials. More vivid are the death-themed deliriums, especially when the narrator floats into an underworld that consists of demon-children in limbo who are chanting for help—turns out, even more bizarrely, that their chanting is a sort of sketch put on for tourists. Throughout his surreal journey, he keeps getting “saved” by the woman who was his original nurse at the hospital, though she pops into the book in different personas. Kangaroo Notebook is a novel of atmosphere and description. Its symbolism is open for interpretation—you can either read it for its entertainment value without trying to overanalyze it, or you can treat it like a puzzle, deciphering every event’s symbolic meaning. For me it was a combination. I was taken by the premise, though not entirely absorbed.
I flew through the beginning of this one, but found the ending to be a disappointment. I walked away from this really wanting a lot more and was even a little annoyed.
Loved it as much at 30 as I did at 13. The premise is shocking, yet believable. Despite the seemingly dark subject matter, this book is both funny and tender without a hint of schmaltz. Growing up, I read and loved all of Julian F. Thompson's books; but this one was my favorite. (Wow, I must have had some serious alienation issues.)