“Three Scenarios in which Hana Sasaki grows a tail” by Kelly Luce is a collection of quirky, refreshing short stories set in Japan. Disturbing, surreal and often touching, the collection is quite imaginative and thoroughly original.
Ms. Yamada’s toaster begins to predict how individuals are going to die. Curious people travel from all over to put bread in the toaster and watch as the kanji character that comes out on the toasted bread describes their fate. Suicide. Sleep. Cancer. Many roads but only one destination. And as a young delivery boy watches each person react to knowing the truth, he cannot help but wonder if it’s worth it.
In another tale, Maxine loses her brother Rooey to a shark attack. As she grieves, she slowly becomes him. She wears his deodorant. She checks his email. She falls for his girlfriend. As time passes, she begins to disappear into the brother she lost.
Lou and Yumiko are a typical couple living in an apartment when their toilet breaks. In an effort to get away from the construction, they take their vacation time to sleep on the roof, go to the beach and have the usual arguments that exist between couples making a life together. In a simple story of love and compromise, of hope and new beginnings, they find a way to be happy amidst the normal doubts of raising a family, cultural divides and past regrets.
Whether with demons and tails or love and family, Luce writes about people we cannot help but admire, fear and sympathize with. Each piece in this collection encapsulates something wholly unexpected.
The language is fresh and genuine, the characters beguiling or charming in turn and the realities are as delicate and changeable as freshly blown glass.
From completely unsettling to startlingly lovely, we may always be unsure as to where we will end up in Luce’s world, but each story transports us to somewhere delightfully strange and completely unique.