The slow reader I am, and all too busy, now as ever, I finished Seiobo at last, and I'm sad it's over because I loved every sentence of it, and somehow it still feels like it isn't over. I disagree with the idea I've read in a couple places that it is a mere collection of short stories. The novel is a novel proper, if not somehow even more of a piece than just a novel, by the tapestry of the language itself, for the intersections are far more deep-seated than in so-called "short story cycles" or "composite novels." Every phrase repeated, like the raising of an index finger, gave me goosebumps, epiphanic, more and more every time, true to its accumulative structure. Every sentence describes, no, every sentence is, the novel itself, yet the novel should be experienced as a whole, in order even to perceive but the smallest pieces in their rightful places. The book reminds me of Robert Smithson's piece "A Heap of Language." The novel becomes both metonymic and metaphoric at once. Always becoming, it never just is, never so complacent is it just to be, just to assert itself as being there, it even, probably more than not, questions that it is there at all, and the breaking of its implicit rules says so much and renders the pages open to the whole world.
It constructs its own rules as it goes on--the predominant mode being paragraphs pages at length containing a single sentence--and, not so perverse as to believe in itself alone, to become a slave to its own system, it breaks those rules too, and even those breaks are, and contain, the whole. When the short sentences in the Alhambra chapter arrive, they feel like epigraphs in stone, as heavy as any of the long-winded sentences: "For there is truth." "There is the Alhambra." "That is the truth." Another exception, "Something Is Burning Outside," at eight pages the second-shortest chapter and containing by far the most paragraphs and sentences, has a particularly beautiful character description: "He was thin, like a water bird, his shoulders stooped; bald-headed, in his frighteningly gaunt face two pure dark-brown eyes burned--two pure burning eyes, yet eyes notfrom an inner fire but merely reflecting back, like two still mirrors, that something is burning outside." Each chapter is a rebuilding of the pervious, as the Ise Shrine was in "Rebuilding of the Ise Shrine," and in accord with the instability of perspective in K's books, language itself becomes an object malleable: shrines of language built and collapsed before the next shrine, the next chapter. I have such an affinity for this whole book, I don't think I'll stop perusing it on occasion, pursuing new strains from old.