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Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse Paperback – 14 Oct 2010


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About the Author

Born 1978 in Fukuoka, Otsuichi won the Sixth Jump Short Fiction/Nonfiction Prize when he was seventeen with his debut story "Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse." Now recognized as one of the most talented young fantasy/horror writers in Japan, his other English-language works include the short story collection Calling You, the Honkaku Mystery Prize-winning novel Goth, and the collection ZOO (Haikasoru 2009).


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Amazon.com: HASH(0x98b9e888) out of 5 stars 12 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98a58e4c) out of 5 stars Excellent collection of Japanese horror... 8 May 2011
By DoskoiPanda - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Summer, Fireworks and My Corpse" contains Otsuichi's early works - two novellas and a short story. As a collection of work, it's very good - not disjointed or thrown together, though I must confess some confusion at the order of the stories; from my point of view the book was named for the least effective of the stories, and they feel chronologically backward.

"Summer Fireworks and My Corpse" is a shorter novella from a dead child's point of view, as she follows the fate of her corpse, her friends and the impact her death has on the community. The horror here is more subtle, with touches of black humour and pangs of how people adjust to guilt and death. There are slight twists in the tale to keep it interesting, though I must admit I felt dissatisfied with both the ending and the lack of character development in comparison to his other early work,"Goth" (though the characters are vaguely reminiscent of those in "Goth.") I did, however, find the running commentary of the dead girl interesting- some of her observations are shrewd, while other comments show her growing detachment from her corpse.

"Yuko" is a short story about a girl who goes to work as a housekeeper for a man and his wife in an isolated traditional Japanese mansion. This is a gem of a short story, and though it is short, it feels more fully fleshed out than the previous novella. In a lot of ways, I was reminded of Victorian ghost stories, like those of Le Fanu, where there is both a supernatural and a more earthly explanation for what happens, both of which lend themselves to two separate horrors within the outcome.The writing is dense with atmosphere; creepy insinuations, misleading information and the curiosity of a lonely girl all make this an excellent short story. Again, the horror here is subtle, creeping in rather than jarring, and is all the more effective for it.

"Black Fairy Tale" According to Otsuichi's Afterword, this was the first thing he wrote after college that was "longer than two hundred pages of genko yoshi manuscript." Even as a entry point into writing, the The novella begins with a fairy tale story of a lonely raven befriending a blind girl, and bringing her eyes so that she could see dreams. The eyes would retain the memories of what the original owner has seen, and the little girl would see their memories, right up until the moment the eye was removed. From there the story is told by a teenage girl who lost her left eye, and has amnesia due to the shock of losing the eye; the writer of the fairy tale, who has a twisted gift; and the remainder of the raven's tale, all of which are woven into a tale of mysteries. The main character, Nami, is unable to remember who she was, and is rejected by her family who constantly compare her to her former self, and also suffers from image memories left in the donated eye. She is well developed as a character, which I would have thought to be a difficult thing to do as she is meant to be basically an empty vessel, though some of her reasoning is peculiar, it could be attributed to the eye's influence. The writer of the raven's story is less well developed, but seems slightly sociopathic, definitely dysfunctional. The scenes of his childhood are filled with black humor, twisted jokes, and the exploration of his ability. Both of them are curiously detached in some way - incomplete/disconnected from their actions, but this serves to help define them in very different ways. This is an excellent story, and makes up the bulk of the book (almost 230 pages of the 350).(Note to the squeamish: If you've ever read Grimm's fairy tales as they were originally written, the gore here is just a little updated, and a bit more twisted - enough to make you cringe, but not, say, Clive Barker "Books of Blood" graphic.)

Overall, this is a very good collection, and well worth reading, especially if you enjoyed his other works ("Goth" or "Zoo", for example) or enjoy either modern fairy tales or Japanese horror/mystery. Highly recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b791f78) out of 5 stars Wonderful and Dark 9 Dec. 2012
By Rachael Walker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a big fan of Otsuichi and this book only furthers my respect for him as a horror writer.
Disturbing and dark, these stories stay with you long after you read them. The imagery and detail is so well implanted that you can almost feel the press of cold air on your back or hear the sounds of dried leaves crunching under your feet as you walk through each page with pulse quickening anticipation to see what's around that next corner or hiding in that dank basement.

I would recommend this book to any Otsuichi fan and anyone who loves a good chilling tale in general.
HASH(0x98cb4684) out of 5 stars I love how each of these stories are filled with a description of death that is almost eloquent in it's execution. 31 Jan. 2014
By Michelle Levy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For those of you who looked at the title and cringed, please do not be deterred. Although it is true that the three tales in this short story collection are grotesque at times, the idea behind each story is very creative, deserving a chance to be enjoyed. I have always found the Japanese to be risk-takers in their writing, never having any shame or worrying that they will offend someone, like Chuck Palahniuk, which is why I love reading their literature and always looking past the obvious content to find the deeper meaning.

There are three stories in this collection: Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse; Yuko; and Black Fairy Tale.
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Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse is about three children; siblings Ken and Satsuki and their friend Yayoi and how an innocent conversation and honest confession soon turns into murder. (SPOILER ALERT: One of the children dies.) The description of the death is graphic but the deceased child lives on by being the narrator of the events that occur (Similar to the narration of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones). In terms of theatre, the term dramatic irony works well here because in a sense, the reader is aware of what happened to one of the children as the other two main characters try to hide the evidence, but the other characters are not aware as to why the siblings have been acting so strangely.

Honestly, I was very disappointed with the ending until I read the epilogue. I cannot say the ending left me warm and fuzzy but the epilogue had a crazy twist that I was not expecting, almost making up for my irritation with Otsuichi for ending the story in such a way.
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The 2nd story, Yuko, is about a young woman named Kiyone and her new position as housekeeper for Master Masayoshi and his wife, Yuko. The couple seems ordinary until the meal ritual Kiyone must follow is set into place. As Kiyone begins to talk to the neighbors and their rumors begin to mess with her mind, things become stranger by the minute.

At first, the story reminded me of William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily, but soon different elements came into play that made that comparison not as viable as I had thought. The twist he gives us in this story is very clever but there is a lot of explanation behind it, making the impact not as much of a ‘wow’ factor as I had hoped. Regardless of the ending, the story was brilliant.
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The 3rd and final story, Black Fairy Tale, was the longest of the three stories but still packs a pretty good punch in the end. The story focuses on Nami, a high school girl who loses her left eye in a freak accident and causes her to have amnesia. Not long after she has amnesia does she get an eye transplant that brings her more than vision in her left eye; she can also see the memories of its previous owner at sporadic times of the day. As Nami becomes more comfortable with these memories to take the place of the ones she lost, she discovers the hometown of the previous town and the secrets, both good and bad, are waiting for her.

This story has an alternating narrative, in which a writer named Miki tells us his story as well. He has a terrible gift, one reminiscent of John Coffey in The Green Mile, in the respect that both men can prolong life or take it away. Miki becomes a serial killer not out of thirst for blood, but out of curiosity for what the human body can become; since everyone he kills stays alive without feeling pain. Miki and Nami eventually meet as fate would have it, but Miki is only a penname and his real idenitity comes to light as Nami’s gets involved in a situation that may be over her head.

The best part about this story is the subtle detail in the alternating narratives; you think the two narratives are happening at the same time but as the story goes on, we see just how clever Otsuichi is when he delivers a second twist out of nowhere without skipping a beat.
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When I read a book as ‘different’ as this one, I am not expecting a huge following of people to read this. At times it was not easy for me to read because of the gory detail and the images that came with them but I challenged myself and made it through those difficult parts to enjoy the rest. I am not asking you to have the same appreciation of Japanese Horror or ‘J-Horror’ as I do, in the same respect that I cannot appreciate the film, ‘Melancholia,’ as much as a friend of mine does. My point is that sometimes it is nice to challenge yourself; and if you are someone who likes Stephen King, enjoys writers that challenge the way their reader’s think, and you have an open mind towards different cultural literature, Otsuichi’s novels will be a joy to read.
HASH(0x98ee04a4) out of 5 stars "Summer" is a pretty mundane story 26 Feb. 2015
By Kotatsu - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book contains three separate stories, "Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse", "Yuko", and "Black Fairy Tale". Of the three, the latter is by far the most interesting story, and as it makes up over 200 of the 350 pages, it is weird that they chose the first story as the name for the book.

"Summer" is a pretty mundane story, supposedly told from the perspective of a corpse, but this viewpoint breaks down as the narrator evidently knows things that the corpse is not present to see. It is also a rather boring story.

"Yuko" is thankfully very short, as the story -- and its twist - are predictable from an early stage.

"Black Fairy Tales" is by far the best of the three stories, detailing a young woman's problems after having an eye transplant and trying to find the boy whose eye she is now wearing, and through which she sees scenes from his life. This story is less predictable than the other two, and well written, including some graphic descriptions of torture. I would say the book is worth the money just for this story, but the other two could easily be skipped.
HASH(0x98892720) out of 5 stars Earlier work 30 July 2014
By George - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have really enjoyed Otsuichi's writing. As a writer he is a genius, and I admit I've come to expect a certain level of finesse from his stories, which are sharp and shocking.

Having read ZOO and GOTH, this book did not impress me. It's easy to tell that it is an earlier work. The writing is good, but it does not pack the same punch as, say, ZOO. At some points I even stopped reading because I was disappointed by the failed opportunities which I've known him to take.

To someone who has never read him before, of course I'd recommend his best books first. He's perfected his craft beyond what you will find here.
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