Book Review

Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse

Summer, Fireworks, and My CorpseSummer, Fireworks, and My Corpse
Author: Otsuichi
Publisher: Shueisha
First Published: September 21, 2010
Genres: Horror
Pages: 350
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

three-stars
Synopsis:

Two short novels, including the title story and Black Fairy Tale, plus a bonus short story. Summer is a simple story of a nine-year-old girl who dies while on summer vacation. While her youthful killers try to hide the her body, she tells us the story—from the POV of her dead body—of the boys' attempt to get away murder. Black Fairy Tale is classic J-horror: a young girl loses an eye in an accident, but receives a transplant. Now she can see again, but what she sees out of her new left eye is the experiences and memories of its previous owner. Its previous deceased owner.

Also by this author: Goth, Zoo, Black Fairy Tale

My Thoughts

Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse is perhaps one of the more experimental stories I’ve ever read. It is told from the point of view of Satsuki, a young girl who dies early on in the story, and the clumsy attempts of her childhood friends to hide her corpse. The writing style was good, the descriptions of the town paint a vivid picture of rural Japanese life. The sense of a hot, humid summer can be keenly felt as the characters struggle to get away with their crime.

The story itself was pretty decent and honestly had me flying through pages wondering how the story would end. Would the children get away with it? How? The choice of Satsuki narrating the story as she watches the children carry out their grisly task is an unexpected choice, but it makes the story stand out. My only gripe was that the story drags, and eventually gets to the point where the story is far beyond belief. The idea that adults could be within grabbing distance of the corpse and not smell it rotting, or that a several days old corpse wouldn’t be getting swarmed by flies in the summer heat is just not plausible.

“Upon everything but me, morning came, and everyone but me was alive.”

The bonus story, Yuko, I enjoyed quite a bit more. It had the makings of a gothic horror piece about a housemaid that lives with a handsome gentleman and a mysterious wife she has never seen. The pacing of this story was masterful and it had the right amount of suspense to hook me. The ending would have been superb if it weren’t for the fact that Otsuichi overexplained it. I have noticed in Otsuichi’s works that he tends to explain every detail of the mysteries, investigation style, a habit that is later perfected in Goth. In Yuko, however, the implication of what happened would have been horrifying enough, but the precise explanation of how everything worked or the medical conditions of the characters added too much detail and made some of it rather unbelievable. It’s a stark reminder about how stories can be effective by allowing the reader to put the pieces together.

In both stories the set-up was great, but the ending left something to be desired. But I digress, these stories were written while the author was in high school and his inexperience shows, but it is still a great debut, showcasing the creativity of the author even from a young age.


Warnings: Death


About Otsuichi

Otsuichi is the pen name of Hirotaka Adachi born 1978. He is a Japanese writer, mostly of horror short stories, as well as a filmmaker. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of Japan and the Honkaku Mystery Writers Club of Japan.

Jamie

I’m a Filipino American blogger, historian, and lazy writer. I enjoy books, video games, anime/manga, and smoking hookah.

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