Item description for Outlet by Randy Taguchi & Glynne Walley...
When finance writer Yuki's enigmatic and estranged older brother is found decomposing in his apartment, her only clues to his bizarre demise are her memories of him. As Yuki descends deeper and deeper into her own psyche, she catches glimpses of her true nature.
A brisk, bristling story of survivor's guilt, treacherous sex, and unexpected redemption, Outlet opens the door to a spiritual dimension that is both new and age-old. The climax is mind-blowing.
"...the novel's dark twists and turns should keep readers hooked until the surprising climax. "- Publishers Weekly
"Shamanism and magical realism collide with life in this bestselling first novel by Randy Taguchi." - SFREvu
"Well worth a read."- Blizzard Boy Blog
Randy Taguchi renown as "The Queen of the Internet" in her native Japan where her running e-commentary on everyday life has been phenomenally popular. Outlet, her first novel, was a bestseller there and is her first work to appear in English.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.25" Weight: 0.8 lbs.
Release Date Nov 1, 2003
ISBN 1932234047 ISBN13 9781932234046
This book is a wasteland. The characters are all flat, and stupid. Most of them are the same person. Analogies with technology that were meant to make the book seem modern and edgy only show just how poor the author's understanding of technology really is. The conclusion is a pile of puerile, self-congratulatory nonsense.
Every other page either has the word 'plug,' 'outlet,' or depicts our protagonist having sex. Guess what? "PLUG" and "OUTLET" are Taguchi's idea of a clever reinterpretation of SEX. (spoilers!) Our main character is a woman, thus OUTLET. Good job, there. Very deep.
They ought to call her "Ozymandius" Taguchi, because when I look upon her works, I despair.
what a stinker May 13, 2006
wow, this book was a stinker. it's been a long time since i've read a book that so drearily insisted on explaining, ad nauseum, every last thought the author has. she might as well have given us a manual. at least it might have had pictures.
the characters are flat and lifeless (no doubt they ran away as soon as they discovered that the author wasn't going to let them speak). the plot wants to be a philosophical with a macabre twist when it grows up, but it has sooo much growing up to do. at the end, the book devolves (if such a thing is possible) into a quasi-poetic slush of self-congratulatory drivel, which, if nothing else, leaves the reader free to skim those last 15 pages and, with relief, close the book and throw it in the resell pile.
if you want good, weird japanese fiction, go read haruki murakami or banana yoshimoto. don't waste your time on this one.
More than a mere Ghost story Apr 25, 2006
When I bought this book, I expected to be entertained by another good Japanese tale of ghosts and spirits. However Outlet is much more than that. Yuki, the main character is a young woman who lives her life and sexuality as a man: she is emotionally detached and is not shy about living a full sex life.She comes from a very dysfunctional family, her father is a drunk, her mother is abused and her brother is just plain strange.The latter dies of self starvation, and when Yuki visits his appartment she smells the smell of death.She also sees his ghost, but that ghost is there to give her amazing revelations concerning her own nature. This is an interesting and entertaining book, even for skeptic readers like me .
The smell of death...It is not that bad... Sep 25, 2005
Randy Taguchi's debut novel opens with the protagonist, Yuki Asakura, waking up after a night of lovemaking with an acquaintance, a photographer named Kimura. Like all of the other men who have slept with her, and there are many, Kimura is a bit obsessed with Yuki, but she does not return his affection. As normal for her, after she has sex, she loses interest in men.
With Kimura still in bed, Yuki clicks on her laptop and reads the stocks. As a freelance finance writer, the stock market is the one thing, well, maybe booze, also, that truly interests Yuki. Its movements and its total lack of emotion and the way its glacial indifference affects the world enthrall her. After her sleep-muddled head clears, Yuki leaves the love hotel. While walking upon some train tracks she spots her brother Taka and his dog Shiro, but how can this be? Her father, in a drunken rage, beat the dog to death years before. When she calls out to her brother, he disappears.
After she returns home, Yuki receives a phone call from her parents informing her that her brother is dead. Spooked that she might have seen her brother's ghost, Yuki learns of the horrific way in which her brother died. After renting a new apartment, apparently Taka lost the will to live. Resting upon a quilt that covered a tiled floor, Taka allowed himself to starve to death and because his family had lost contact with him, his body was not discovered until it had decomposed. The stench of the gelatinous puddle of rotting blood and maggots had permeated the entire apartment building.
Being that her parents were in no condition to take care of more mundane matters, Yuki saw to it that her brother's possessions were taken care of and she made amends with the owner of the apartment building. However, while inside the apartment Yuki is overwhelmed by the stench of rot and afterwards she is able to detect the slightest trace of rot and death. She becomes so adept in fact that she can tell when someone is sick.
However, this is only the beginning. Yuki is haunted by her brother in her dreams and eventually seeks the help of her old college advisor, a psychologist with whom she had shared a twisted relationship with years before. Wanting to discover why her brother died and why he was obsessed with outlets, Yuki journeys into the depths of her own mind and as she peels back the layers of her subconscious, she reveals the dark putrescence of her own past. A past she has to come to terms with herself in order to understand not only why her brother died, but to prevent herself from following his dark path.
Famous for her online diary in Japan, Taguchi is one of a number of female writers who have entered Japan's literary scene in the last decade. While not quite as explicit as Sakurai Ami or Kanehara Hitomi, Taguchi is still quite graphic, but unlike the former, Taguchi seems to have more to offer the world of letters than shock value. Another value the novel possesses is that it gives the reader a glimpse of individuals who suffer from a condition called Hikikomori, which basically translates into seclusion. These individuals are generally males who have basically given up on life. Dependent on their parents, they hide in their rooms for upwards to a year at a time
New view on what you thought was a familiar world Jun 18, 2004
Many years ago, a friend and I came up with a word game in which we replaced natural references with manmade ones. Instead of saying, "She had eyes the color of robins' eggs," we'd say, "Her eyes were IBM blue." "The late afternoon sky was airbrushed with the red of Chinese lacquer." Over time, history, that is, our reference points do change. From a different perspective, we may wonder if it's the same world as that we have been looking at.
From the start of Randy Taguchi's "Outlet," there is a sense that something is off-kilter, and that feeling keeps you on edge throughout the book. The events the main character encounters--the odd death of her brother (he seemed to have let himself die although he had no illness), a search for meaning in mourning, a dysfunctional family, and sexual relations bare of relations, are common themes in life and novels, but there is always the feeling that there is more to what is being described, that there is an approach to viewing the same events we can only feel a little but can't yet turn the corner to see fully.
These are the same nagging sensations the main character experiences. And they lead her to question her own sanity. Why can she now smell the scent of death? Her dead brother is appearing to her, and seeming to appeal to her to discover the cause of his death. As a 21st century young woman who writes for an online financial publication, she is not looking for answers in religion and tradition, not even the new tradition of psychiatry. She sleeps with men without needing to fall for them. She would rather talk stocks and bonds than emotions. But she can't figure out what's going on and heads toward a nervous breakdown. So what of it?
Is breaking down the end?
The fears, toughness, dissolution of the main character are conveyed extremely well in the contemporary conversational tone of the narrative, translated beautifully from Japanese and without any accent. (Great job, Vertical!) It's an up-to-date sound, without the plummy "English" notes and wordiness still associated with "Literature." In this case, given the main character's profession, the first-person narrative is true to her character and the style of good magazine and business writing in the 21st century.
While sounding spontaneous and almost casual, the narrative is smartly structured, as you will see when you get to the surprise ending, which although a surprise is not a cheat, because you sensed from the start that you were onto something fresh, with new reference points to view what you thought was a familiar world.