A few years ago while cruising the aisles of the local bookstore I picked up a book on a whim. Rather distant from my usual reading material: a mystery (which ranks only slightly above romance on my genre hierarchy), crime drama, translated from Japanese and set in Tokyo.
Out by Natsuo Kirino
The novel introduced a host of interesting characters, varied personalities who were intertwined due to circumstances ranging from the mundane to the seedy. Much of the novel took place during the night shift at a boxed-lunch factory in Tokyo, filled with details of the work that I found strangely fascinating. The plot deals with a woman who kills her husband in a moment of anger and then calls upon her co-workers to help her dispose of the body. They turn out to be uniquely suited to the work and develop a sort of cottage industry disposing of bodies for local criminals, each for her own reasons.
I was really enjoying Out: the very dark humor, the dynamic between the female characters, and the glimpse into workaday Tokyo; then it all went off the rails. The conclusion just seemed bizarre, and completely unsatisfying. It may be that this is due to cultural differences in storytelling, I understand that this author is very popular in Japan, but I found it completely off-putting. Depraved, almost grotesque.
Disappointing, when I had enjoyed the rest of the novel so much. In the end I just didn’t have the stomach for it.