mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli

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Grass for his Pillowbook. (22)

Grass for His Pillow: The Way Through the Snow by Lian Hearn.

Thoughts held in his hand;
haunted by the Kikuta.
Black pebbles, cold. Hard.

This volume of the Tales of the Otori closes up the arc of Grass for His Pillow, which is dominated by the season of winter giving way to spring. Takeo is torn between the three worlds of his adopted samurai clan, the Otori; his magical ninja bloodline, the Tribe & his upbringing among the religious outcasts the Hidden. Some of this is resolved by unneccisary fiat, but the real solution is the Will. Takeo finally decides, which has been missing for some time. Forging an alloy out of the three threads is his ultimate destiny, clearly. The thing that this volume really brought home was Hearn's economy of characters. Even dead characters cast their pall over the proceedings; Shigeru's legacy is as potent as he was in life. The homosexual affair between Makoto & Takeo is discussed & put aside with what I think is probably a fairly decent portrayal of homosexual activity in Feudal Japan-- but that is a whole can of worms that I'm not really qualified to open. I do find it curious that there isn't a mirror relationship with Kaede & Shizuka, since I anticipated one; I'm glad there isn't, but I would have liked to see her get some on the side. The argument could easily be made that male promiscuity would be much more culturally permissible, & that Kaede's story is one of being very much constrained by society while struggling to subvert & conquer it, but still. The fact that the other female characters all have their own webs of dalliance does serve to highlight it, so I must assume it was purposeful. The end here is even more bittersweet than the previous, I think, because it is one of creation, not destruction. In Across the Nightingale Floor events have the finality of death; Grass for His Pillow ends with fragile joy under inevitable threat.
Tags: books, haiku, hearn, tales of the otori

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