Mika Kokkonen Kokkonen itibaren Nuagarh, Odisha 752109, Hindistan
Not finished with it yet, but this is a really fun book. The vocabulary alone is worth it, translated in early 20th century British English. How often do you read the word "enire" [no spelling error, this is the word] or "usufruct"? Holy crap. If you own a dictionary (or simply a decent sense of context) the verbiage isn't so difficult to get through, and it's really necessary: the narrator is a cat, describing his master, a turn-of-the-century Japanese teacher, and the follies of being a human being. From the perspective of an arrogant, self-righteous, if not altogether pitiless feline. There is enough acerbic wit in the book to make the most cynical bastard feel like a saint, but there is enough heart and self-effacing commentary to make one realize that the cat, for all his spite, truly loves his master's family. It is exactly what I imagine a cat would be like - aloof but not monstrous. I give it a three: it's not exactly epic, nor is the plot spectacular - it was written as a serialized novel, and collected in four parts later - but it is a book I can pick up and pay as much attention to as I like. It doesn't offer the total absorption of, say, "Brothers Karamazov," but it's a humorous enough account. And I can only brood for so long. The ending is really pretty good. I'd almost bump it up one star, except that the whole ending sequence feels a little forced, like Soseki's serialization contract ran out and he had a certain amount of pages to fill. It all ties together well, since the stories are essentially vignettes, but the last few pages is great; a firestorm of death fantasy and philosophy, it is like two pages of everything good about life and death. Nothing new, but well done, nonetheless.
Classic. Highly entertaining plot and lovable characters. I was surprised every time I read it.