Terminal Boredom

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Pub Date 20 Apr 2021 | Archive Date 20 Apr 2021
Verso Books (US), Verso Fiction

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Description

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 by Thrillist, The Millions, Frieze, and Metropolis Japan

The first English language publication of the work of Izumi Suzuki, a legend of Japanese science fiction and a countercultural icon


At turns nonchalantly hip and charmingly deranged, Suzuki's singular slant on speculative fiction would be echoed in countless later works, from Margaret Atwood and Harumi Murakami, to Black Mirror and Ex Machina. In these darkly playful and punky stories, the fantastical elements are always earthed by the universal pettiness of strife between the sexes, and the gritty reality of life on the lower rungs, whatever planet that ladder might be on.

Translated by Polly Barton, Sam Bett, David Boyd, Daniel Joseph, Aiko Masubuchi, and Helen O'Horan.
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 by Thrillist, The Millions, Frieze, and Metropolis Japan

The first English language publication of the work of Izumi Suzuki, a legend of Japanese science fiction...

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ISBN 9781788739887
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Featured Reviews

A Really, Really, Mixed But Mostly Interesting Bag I was curious about this book because, as the blurb promised, Suzuki is a "legend of Japanese science fiction and a countercultural icon". A quick survey of her other books more or less confirmed this assessment. Well, the first two stories in this collection, (one about a world without men and the other about voluntarily checking out), were slow and bland. I wondered when the special would start to happen. Then we hit the third story, "The Night Picnic", which is about the last, isolated, slightly deranged, surviving humans, lost in the cosmos, trying to act like traditional humans, based on old videos, books, and the like. It is laugh out loud funny and as edgy, irreverent, and twisty as you could possibly want. It just kept getting better as I read and it finished socko. So, O.K. I thought, now we're cooking. After that, though, through three more stories, we dream, we travel, we talk and drink, we go to sleep and we wake up, and it's all slightly odd, and disjointed, and disorienting. A lot of it is literally about boredom, including terminal boredom, and it's pretty hard to make boredom interesting, much less exciting. I don't necessarily always "get" Suzuki's point, but I certainly get why she's so popular. This is as good an introduction as any. (Please note that I received a free ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)

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Interesting short stories that dove into all sorts of strange worlds. If you are into sci-fi you should enjoy this one. I'm not a big sci-fi fan, but I enjoyed most of these

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Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher, Verso Books, for providing a review copy of this book. "Terminal Boredom" is a collection of seven short scifi stories written in the 70's and 80's by the actress, model, and author Izumi Suzuki and republished posthumously in 2021 in English. These stories lean towards the dystopian tendencies of Margaret Atwood, only they are not as cheerful as those by Atwood. Many of the stories are also reminiscent of Philip K. Dick, however, Dick's stories are more based in comfortably solid reality. All of the stories are enhanced with aspects of Japanese culture. In a few cases, it is useful to have an understanding of Japanese society and daily life to appreciate some of the nuances, but it is certainly not mandatory. In many cases the writing style follows the traditional Japanese artistic tendency of sketching the key points and leaving full details to the imagination of the connoisseur. Each of the stories is poignant and memorable in different ways. Some of the best science fiction proposes a situation and analyzes what it might mean to people involved. "The World of Women and Women" does this very well by asking the question "What might a Japanese society without men be like?" and then crafting a very understandable dystopian and human story. "You May Dream" provides an interesting premise of overpopulation and creative dystopian methods of handling along with how this would affect the individual. "Night Picnic" is a creative and imaginative story that keeps the reader guessing until the end. It may feel familiar to fans of Ray Bradbury in the portrayal of aliens. Readers who have visited Yokohama may take interest in places mentioned in "That Old Seaside Club". However, as with Philip K. Dick stories, it soon becomes obvious that things are not what they seem to be. Similarly, fans of Philip K. Dick should feel at home with "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes". Drugs, reality, time, and relationships are all a blur in this story. "Forgotten" may contain aliens, spaceships, drugs, and interstellar conquest, but the focus is on the personal Terran-Alien relationship of the main characters. Of all of the stories in this collection, "Terminal Boredom" by far had the strongest emotional impact to me. My initial impression of the collection is "dark and dystopian". However, I am appreciative of the chance to read the collection. I feel like I understand Japanese counterculture a bit better. I will keep an eye open for additional opportunities to read Izumi Suzuki and other Japanese scifi authors.

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You have to make allowances for foreign SF, especially if you're American and the author is Japanese. It's a whole different mindset, combined with the foreign culture, history, and POV. These stories read like cliches today (e.g., a world with only women but wait, there are a few sickly men kept underground for breeding purposes), but in 1970's Japan I'm sure they were something new. If you like Kobo Abe's SF, here you go.

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I found this collection a bit uneven; the first story in particular did nothing for me (it felt simultaneously a bit offensive and like something I’ve read a thousand versions of already?) but it picked up a lot from there. All the stories have this lonely, ice-cold quality that creates such an unsettling atmosphere. The titular story was my favourite, reminding me a little of High-Rise by JG Ballard and My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. Not quite for me overall, but I could definitely see it working for others.

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It took years and years for someone (Verso Books) to publish a story collection written by Japanese icon actress-turned-writer Izumi Suzuki. This would be her first book translated into English, and Suzuki has been dead for more than 30 years. If you keep that fact in mind along with the chronological environment she wrote her sci-fi, feministic, space bound stories in - you would understand this (translation and publishing) should have been done a long time ago. However, if you mistakenly tuck into her stories as something contemporary (and that would be the fair mistake I made, because they are incredibly timely), you might come to the wrong conclusions. That her work is not original - I had Matthew Baker on my mind, thinking that he did this whole drop you into the middle of fantasy stuff much better. (He did, but he wasn’t copied). That the stories are just following the main trends in literature - feminism, end of the world as we know it, technological influence - that have been floating around long enough for everyone to pick them up and use them. (But she wrote decades ago). That her story Terminal Boredom, featuring TV crazy population planning to install devices into their brain to get drugged by entertainment to eternal bliss - was definitely, oh so surely inspired by Infinite Jest. I mean look at the titles! (But. Izumi Suzuki killed herself in 1986. Infinite Jest was published in 1996. I wonder... if David Foster Wallace knew japanese?) See - perspective is everything. With all of the above in mind, I now find her stories progressive, authentic and futuristic. ‘Women and Women’ talks about the idea of female world domination (hello Naomi Alderman), ‘That Old Seaside Club’ is a take on psychotherapy/hypnotic sleep, ‘Forgotten’ has some serious Madame Bovary flashbacks for me - not ONLY because it has an Emma in it!.. The ideas are great. What I didn’t like was execution. Although the stories get progressively better - was that intended? - I think the first one should have been edited about a hundred times more, and the last one is still lacking. Short story is a brutal literary form - it does not allow for slow pace, accidental characters, lack of purpose and everlasting ambiguity. That I cannot blame on time. Thank you @versobooks for giving me a copy to review.

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In expanding to international writers for sci-fi you get such a different interpretation of the drama which makes you appreciate it so much more, Terminal Boredom provides multiple short stories with takes on society, the nuances of human life with the uncharted territories of the unknown future that awaits us. Each story takes its in path, transporting readers to a both familiar and unfamiliar world, indulging in our fantasies, our fears and the humanity that doesn’t get erased even if our societies and our technologies are.

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Disconcerting short stories with a speculative fiction flair. Given that this was the first work by Suzuki that has been translated into English, I wish that there had been a foreward to put the stories in more context--when I started reading, I didn't realize that the works in this collection were written decades ago! The themes of alienation, crumbling social structures and relationships, and ubiquitous technology designed for distraction are fascinating. The pacing of the stories is a little odd, and I often felt like I was suspended in negative space, waiting for something to happen. They are also ambiguous in the extreme, which was good in cases of ambiguous endings but bad in cases where I was not sure what was going on (in a way that probably wasn't intentional). My favorite stories were "Night Picnic" (a family of four is desperately trying to approximate normal life in a post-apocalyptic setting), "That Old Seaside Club" (everything is perfect here except this nagging feeling), and "Terminal Boredom" (no prospects, no jobs, no momentum, no feelings...?). 3.5/5

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Terminal Boredom [Blurb goes here] I have to say that I enjoyed this book from start to finish. There is this naivetë quality to the stories that you can only find in Japanese novels. I could go into detail, retelling what I liked of each story, but I hate spoilers. All I can say is that, if you want to read something different and weird —in a good way—, you'll have a great time reading Terminal Boredom.

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A very interesting book, with a few way out view on the future.. I kept reading it through the night.

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written in the 70s and 80s these stories feel like prototypic sci-fi. suzuki's breadth is remarkable: she tackles sexuality and the performativity of family and gender roles. she comments on immigration and colonisation and identity. there's psychological turmoil that manifests itself as substance abuse and suicide. the stories feel dark and eerily poignant for today's day and age - police violence, celebrities with political power - it's all there. i often struggle with short story collections - it feels like the story ends just as you're catching on. when elaborate worldbuilding is on the menu this should be especially so. but, while each story manufactures a different reality, there's enough subtelty for intrigue and enough clarity to quickly understand which notion of modern reality suzuki's playing with. here, the form of the short story facilitates a huge range of social critique. for a first translation of izumi suzuki's writing, the length of the collection is satisfying. there's enough there to get a good sense of her work but i felt content when i'd finished.

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How could someone not like these stories? They are odd and unsettling which is exactly what you’d want and expect upon choosing this collection to read. It’s speculative sci-fi so you definitely get the weird and trippy you came for. The atmosphere created throughout each of the stories makes the book feel very cohesive. As I read I was overwhelmed with an out of body, dreamy experience which sometimes left me feeling empty but always left me wanting more. These stories were written decades ago but they are still very timely and unique enough to stand out from others like them. So thankful to those who took the time to translate these works of art - Polly Barton, Sam Bett, David Boyd, Daniel Joseph, Aiko Masubuchi, and Helen O'Horan. RIP Izumi Suzuki <3 Thank you to the translators, Verso Books, and #NetGallery an eARC of #TerminalBoredom for an honest review. Review will be posted on NetGallery, Goodreads, Facebook and Instagram.

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I thought the stories will well written and extremely unique. I have not read a lot of experimental and speculative fiction and found this to be an enlightening and intensely thought provoking group of stories. I liked the nod to science fiction and the sheer bizarre world that the interplanetary elements created. Thanks for the ARC, NetGalley.

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Terminal Boredom is old. Like, reading the stories, especially the first one, you just get the feeling that it’s a few decades old. Understandable, really, since it’s the first translation of the author to english. It has old scifi tropes, fear of nuclear war and the end of mankind and alien civilizations and all that, but it’s still easy to see how those themes still continue to work today as well. The author, in most of the stories, also deals a lot with identity and gender, even if they get quite confusing sometimes. The quality of the stories varies. I quite enjoyed the second (“I want too keep on living. Forever. And that’s how it’s going to be. I’ll become a lone eye somewhere, floating without consciousness” is my favorite quote from the book!) and the fourth ones, but some of the others were a pain to get through, especially the first one - it felt very cis and very weird. But well, everything in this book is weird. Each story has a different scifi/bizarre event/plot/world, but despite the initial confusion when you start a new chapter, since everything changes, the more you read the more you understand, until the whole picture is somewhat clearer by the end of the story. The different details Izumi Suzuki could create and slowly hint to, showing gradually to the reader, are the main positive points of this book, for me. Since the characters don’t repeat in each chapter, and some of them aren’t even named, I feel like they’re not really supposed to be the focus at all - only the whole mood of the book (the name is quite fitting, it all felt like a monotonous, hot Sunday afternoon) and the bizarre worlds and futures the author came up with. Since I’ve never read the original, I can’t comment on the quality of the translation, but I felt like the whole book had a nice flow, and the stories, despite their differences, had a common mood to them that made this collection quite good.

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When you read a title like "Terminal Boredom", you can't help but wonder, a little, if the title is also a description of the contents. In this case... yeah. A bit. "Terminal Boredom" is a book that would greatly benefit from an introduction (and maybe the published version will have one - my version is a ARC and thus subject to change). Otherwise, all you have is seven odd sci fi stories that seem a bit out of date. As far as the internet has told me, Izumi Suzuki was an actress and model born in 1949. Her husband, a saxophonist, died in 1978, and she committed suicide in 1986. You can see dark themes in this short story collection, as well - dystopias, drug use, falling out of love, relationships (romantic or otherwise) that have a dark, unpleasant side. People never seem to quite connect, either with each other, or with themselves. And while the sci fi nature of these stories is obvious from the very first page, the focus is on the inner lives of characters, or the lack thereof. Stylistically, the stories are mostly advanced through dialogues and sometimes it was only in trying to explain the plot to others that I realized that there was a plot at all. Characters drift. They don't happen to things - things happen to them. They rarely seem to have agency, and that made this a difficult read for me. In "Women and Women", women have taken over the world. Men have become weaker, and they have been shut in prisons, and are blamed for the world's ills. Technology is going to shit, but technology was killing the planet. All relationships are either lesbian relationships, or highly forbidden. One girl sees a clandestine boy on the street and befriends him and even sleeps with him, but her grandmother finds out and denounces him, so he's taken away. That is all - I couldn't tell if this was a criticism of feminism and a reinforcement of the idea that only men can do engineering and scientific jobs, or if there was no such intent at all. "You May Dream" is a story in which people are put into forced cryogenic sleep, maybe never to wake up, but their consciousness can be taken to the dreams of others. The main character agrees to have a friend live in her dreams, but they turn out to dislike each other. "Night Picnic" seems gratuitously odd, until you realize why. Time is weird. People are weird. The characters are trying to imitate human lives, based on things they've read and seen, even if that society seems far in the past for humanity. They have no context for anything they research, to the point where the son considers dating the daughter because books tell him he should be dating and there's nobody else around. Perhaps my copy of the book isn't edited yet, because this story has sentences like, "Fulgurous eyes and hair of gold had she" or "The girl atop a gentle hill stood she". I can't tell if this is Izumi Suzuki's style and she decided to be very odd to fit with the tone of the story, or if the translation process isn't finished yet. In "That Old Seaside Club", people go to a resort where everything is great, life is pleasant, and many things forgotten. There seem to be glitches, and repeats of prior experiences, and it's all easily explained by the end. "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" is the one most overtly about drug abuse and the effect drugs have on people and on those around them. The sci fi element is almost reduced to a metaphor, as a character finds herself losing years of her life and becoming old before her time because of abuse. "Forgotten" is a story about an interplanetary affair, clashing cultures and humanity's way of colonizing others, which is really making this sound more exciting than it is - the lack of emotional connection between the main character and her alien lover, the way she never seems to decide for herself, make this one of the weaker stories of the volume for me. And finally, "Terminal Boredom", which gives its name to the volume - in a dystopian, tv-obsessed society, young people find themselves lacking stimulation to such an extent that they forget even to eat. While interesting in concept, the stories all seem to lack something in realization - a bit of fleshing out, perhaps. A more poignant description of emotional reactions, where the point of the story seems to hang on them, and of the worlds, where they seem interesting. It would be interesting to find out how these stories were received when they were published, and what the Japanese sci fi scene was like, since some of the interest here might lie in knowing about the stories, rather than just the stories themselves. But, alas, the version I have offers nothing of the sort. Many thanks to NetGalley and Verso for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I’m going to enjoy spending time with this collection when the book is published. The stories have a delightful snap to them and the translation is a lovely vernacular pleasure to read. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a setting for the font and spacing in the e-arc that would allow me to read the book easily and I’ll plan to come back with a more thorough review once I have the book in hand as I trust Verso and can tell that I will enjoy the book more with better formatting. Four stars is my placeholder in situations like this.

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I was really looking forward to this book but as a Kindle reader (I was offered the option of a Kindle download to read it) the formatting issues made this basically impossible to read. It would be unfair to review it. If that could be changed, it would be wonderful. I'll no doubt buy a copy when it's in the shops, but it's a shame not to be able to review it now.

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I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I love reading short stories, especially from Japan. These stories were an interesting introduction to Japanese science fiction. My favourite were: " Women and Women" and "Night Picnic". They had plenty of fantastical elements and darkness which unfortunately wasn't enough for me to enjoy them. Some of the themes of this novel were : dystopia, gender, loneliness and drug abuse. I feel that this collection of stories will be appreciated a lot by lovers of science-fiction literature.

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“Terminal Boredom”, by Izumi Suzuki, is a collection of seven short stories, written in Japan, in the 1970s.. This English translation, around 30 years later, was made possible because of a group of translators, namely Polly Barton, Sam Bett, David Boyd, Daniel Joseph, Aiko Masubuchi, and Helen O’Horan. It is also worth mentioning that, despite this being Suzuki’s English debut, she is recognized as a star of science-fiction writing in Japan. While on the surface it’s clearly a science fiction collection, I personally felt that Suzuki was using science fiction themes and settings to point out deeper societal issues like drug addition, alienation from society, mental health issues, and toxic relationships. The reading experience felt to me like watching a season of “Black Mirror”, where the science fiction aspect is within reach, and the issues explored are very relevant to our world today, which considering these stories were written 30 years ago is very impressive. The writing itself felt very detached, which looking back at, feels like it was used as a great tool to point out the coldness and alienation of the characters in this collection. My favorite stories from the collection were “Women and Women”, a story set in a dystopian world where due to lack of resources, men are no longer considered “citizens” of the world and are locked in restriction zone camps; “You May Dream”, a story set again in a different dystopian world where due to overpopulation, citizens are randomly chosen to become cryogenically frozen and can chose to appear in another person’s dream so their memory doesn’t fade from the world; “That Old Seaside Club”, a story about a rehab resort from a different planet where people can go recharge when life on Earth is too overwhelming; and the title story, “Terminal Boredom”, a story in which the alienation from society and overuse of screen devices to stimulate the brain have shocking consequences. I definitely recommend this collection to those who like their fiction a bit on the darker side. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Verso Books for the e-arc in exchange for an honest review. Watch out for this one coming out in April 2021.

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A collection of short stories with a sci-fi slant. I didn't find the premises of most of the stories compelling which made them quite hard to get through. There were some interesting character moments in there but I felt that they were letdown by the world-building.

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<I>Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.</I> This was an utterly fascinating collection of short stories. If I had not already been aware that the author had been dead for more than 30 years before starting this collection, I would have had no problem believing the stories were recently written. Suzuki's speculative sci-fi here uses futuristic, unsettling backgrounds to then focus on the human condition. Using the unfamiliar to emphasize the familiar: everything is different and nothing ever changes. The focus here is definitely on introspection over action and the best way I could describe most of the stories is a meditation on apathy, nostalgia, and the trap one's place in society sets. These are exactly the kinds of stories you would expect from a young Japanese woman, who lived outside of societal expectations, writing in the 60s and 70s as part of the counterculture of a deeply traditional country like Japan. Each of these stories I found to be both strange and poignant. At the end of each one I was eager to read the next, but definitely felt that each story required contemplation before starting the next. This is a collection that will stay with you and I am deeply hopeful we will soon be seeing more of Suzuki's work in English.

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Three and a half stars. For as old as the stories are, they are surprisingly fresh and - as with most good science fiction from the last 30 years or so - are difficult to pin down in terms of age. But the collection was a bit up and down for me - some of the stories were outstanding, some were little more than a curiosity. To be fair, I stayed with the book to the end, so that certainly says something for Suzuki's writing, as well as her cadre of translators. I hope to check out the late author's other translations. I'm not unhappy I read this collection, I simply feel a little vacant after having done so. I'd like to express my appreciation to NetGalley and Verso Fiction for the opportunity to read an ARC of this book.

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The seven stories of this volume I think of as stories of the mind. Overt science fiction memes are not in evidence. Rather, Suzuki explores the minds of her generally female characters in often quite dystopian worlds. If stories like this appeal, then the collection will appeal. I was pleased to read a collection where the narrators are by and large female, in stark contrast to much of sci fi. Yet, it is disappointing that although the author is Japanese and is apparently quite well known in Japan, I do not have a sense that there is a particular Japanese quality to these stories. I was hoping that reading a collection in translation would be more challenging given the cultural difference, but I am inclined to see these stories as having little attachment to Japanese culture. My thanks to Netgalley for an advance copy.

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A strange and readable translation of slightly dystopian futures. Light, soft science fiction with a focus on dialogue and character.

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I'm usually not a big fan of short story collections, but I love Japanese/Asian fiction so I had to pick this one up and I was positively surprised. The stories were odd, thoughtful and some were unsettling even that left an interesting "aftertaste" for the lack of a better word. I can't believe that those were written almost 30 years ago, because the stories felt very dystopian and futuristic to me. I do enjoy "what if..." stories. Some I enjoyed more, some parts I enjoy less, but altogether I can recommend this to fans of Sayaka Murata or even Murakami. Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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I was intrigued by this collecting the second I noticed it was tagged as sci-fi. Most of the stories have to do with dystopian worlds and space, which was great, but there was this other pervasive topics of fusing consciousness and time not being lineal that would confuse me all the time. I feel that if there had been some sort of explanation or context as to why "time doesn't work", I may have found myself inside the stories, but some of them just had me as a (confused) spectator. "Women and Women" and "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" were my favorite ones, 4 stars for them. The rest were just okay for me (I've seen reviews stating "Terminal Boredom" is the strongest story, but I'm not sure I agree. At least, I myself didn't enjoy it too much). After a quick Google I realized Izumi Suzuki, the author, committed suicide a long time ago. "Terminal Boredom" (the story) did feel like reading about the depression epidemic in Japan, not sure if she was struggling while she wrote it, but the 'feeling' did transpire. She would've been an author to look after, I have to say, I would've loved to read a full-length novel from her.

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My full review can be found on my blog (link attached). Don’t let the publication date fool you: Izumi Suzuki committed suicide in 1986, at the age of 36, and her SF dystopian short stories were all written in the period between mid- 1970s and mid-1980s. Her works were both highly controversial and influential, diametrically different from mainstream, and the publication of Terminal Boredom, a collection of seven of her most famous stories, is a good opportunity for the English-speaking readers to get acquainted with Suzuki’s world. Suzuki creates a very intriguing world, indeed. Deeply dystopian, populated by unhappy people bound in equal measures by the societal norms, their own fantasies and their fears, it features green-skinned aliens, potent drugs, elaborate medical procedures designed to deal with very mundane relationship and psychological problems, and even a post-apocalyptic matriarchal society where men are held in prison-like structures, kept alive only for procreation purposes, like drones in a beehive. No one is truly happy; some have forgotten what happiness even means. The suffocating mood of ennui seems to arise from a number of moods and feelings: social constraints, regrets, inability to feel empathy, bad life choices haunting the present and the future, and the overwhelming boredom all conspire to create a nauseating lack of will to live. The mood, the feeling of these stories is prescient: four decades on, we deal with the very issues so clearly intuited by Suzuki – from the crippling emotional numbness among individuals to the aggressive, grasping behaviour of societies. While Suzuki introduced many typical SF tropes into her works, from humanlike aliens and interplanetary travel to nearly miraculous technological advancement, she didn’t pay them much attention: they are there as props in the everyday, banal yet tragic drama of the protagonists. Indeed, the main strength of her stories lies in this intimate focus on the characters: their flaws and vices, their dreams and fears, their unhappy relationships marked by lack of understanding. The main theme of her stories is alienation; and while she didn’t say break any new ground in this area, what she did say is still important, and profound – maybe even more so today. Some of her stories seem indeed prescient: the problems already arising in the 70’s, noticed by the sensitive, non-normative few like Suzuki, in our times became widespread societal maladies. I must say the stories’ mood affected me a little: the pervasive ennui, unhappiness, despair hidden beneath a very thin surface of the bustle of everyday life are depicted in a thoroughly realistic way. There is a disconnect between Suzuki’s characters and their life; there is a feeling of desolation that contradicts John Donne’s optimism: in Suzuki’s world every man is an island, separate and isolated, and hopelessly alone. [...] In the case of Suzuki’s anthology the whole becomes something more than sum of its parts; the collection in its entirety gives off a unique vibe, and it doesn’t hurt that it ends on a strong note: the titular story, Terminal Boredom, was for me the best of them all. That said, however, I must end my review with two caveats: these stories are old, and their age is noticeable. What was unique and ground-breaking in the 70’s now, four decades on, has turned into something more obvious and at times tropey. Secondly, Suzuki’s stories are focused predominantly on creating a certain mood and exploring mostly psychological ideas of alienation, addiction, exhaustion; there is barely any action, worldbuilding, or even character development. In short, they are vignettes, not full histories – psychological portraits frozen in time. I read them with interest and appreciation, if not exactly enjoyment: they do tend to dampen one’s mood. I have received a copy of this book from the publisher Verso through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks.

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