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Hotel Iris: A Novel

Hotel Iris: A Novel

Автором Yoko Ogawa

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Hotel Iris: A Novel

Автором Yoko Ogawa

оценки:
3/5 (23 оценки)
Длина:
154 pages
2 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Mar 30, 2010
ISBN:
9781429922685
Формат:
Книге

Описание

A tale of twisted love from Yoko Ogawa—author of The Diving Pool and The Housekeeper and the Professor.

In a crumbling seaside hotel on the coast of Japan, quiet seventeen-year-old Mari works the front desk as her mother tends to the off-season customers. When one night they are forced to expel a middle-aged man and a prostitute from their room, Mari finds herself drawn to the man's voice, in what will become the first gesture of a single long seduction. In spite of her provincial surroundings, and her cool but controlling mother, Mari is a sophisticated observer of human desire, and she sees in this man something she has long been looking for.

The man is a proud if threadbare translator living on an island off the coast. A widower, there are whispers around town that he may have murdered his wife. Mari begins to visit him on his island, and he soon initiates her into a dark realm of both pain and pleasure, a place in which she finds herself more at ease even than the translator. As Mari's mother begins to close in on the affair, Mari's sense of what is suitable and what is desirable are recklessly engaged.

Hotel Iris is a stirring novel about the sometimes violent ways in which we express intimacy and about the untranslatable essence of love.

Издатель:
Издано:
Mar 30, 2010
ISBN:
9781429922685
Формат:
Книге

Об авторе

Yoko Ogawa is the author of The Diving Pool, The Housekeeper and the Professor, and Hotel Iris. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, and Zoetrope. Since 1988 she has published more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction, and has won every major Japanese literary award. Her novel The Housekeeper and the Professor has been adapted into a film, The Professor’s Beloved Equation. She lives in Ashiya, Japan, with her husband and son.

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Hotel Iris - Yoko Ogawa

Page

ONE

He first came to the Iris one day just before the beginning of the summer season. The rain had been falling since dawn. It grew heavier at dusk, and the sea was rough and gray. A gust blew open the door, and rain soaked the carpet in the lobby. The shopkeepers in the neighborhood had turned off their neon signs along the empty streets. A car passed from time to time, its headlights shining through the raindrops.

I was about to lock up the cash register and turn out the lights in the lobby, when I heard something heavy hitting the floor above, followed by a woman’s scream. It was a very long scream—so long that I started to wonder before it ended whether she wasn’t laughing instead.

Filthy pervert! The scream stopped at last, and a woman came flying out of Room 202. You disgusting old man! She caught her foot on a seam in the carpet and fell on the landing, but she went on hurling insults at the door of the room. What do you think I am? You’re not fit to be with a woman like me! Scumbag! Impotent bastard!

She was obviously a prostitute—even I could tell that much—and no longer young. Frizzy hair hung at her wrinkled neck, and thick, shiny lipstick had smeared onto her cheeks. Her mascara had run, and her left breast hung out of her blouse where the buttons had come undone. Pale pink thighs protruded from a short skirt, marked in places with red scratches. She had lost one of her cheap plastic high heels.

Her insults stopped for a moment, but then a pillow flew out of the room, hitting her square in the face, and the screaming started all over again. The pillow lay on the landing, smeared with lipstick. Roused by the noise, a few guests had now gathered in the hall in their pajamas. My mother appeared from our apartment in the back.

You pervert! Creep! You’re not fit for a cat in heat. The prostitute’s voice, ragged and hoarse with tears, dissolved into coughs and sobs as one object after another came flying out of the room: a hanger, a crumpled bra, the missing high heel, a handbag. The handbag fell open, and the contents scattered across the hall. The woman clearly wanted to escape down the stairs, but she was too flustered to get to her feet—or perhaps she had turned an ankle.

Shut up! We’re trying to sleep! one of the guests shouted from down the hall, and the others started complaining all at once. Only Room 202 was perfectly silent. I couldn’t see the occupant, and he hadn’t said a word. The only signs of his existence were the woman’s horrible glare and the objects flying out at her.

I’m sorry, my mother interrupted, coming to the bottom of the stairs, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave.

You don’t have to tell me! the woman shouted. I’m going!

I’ll be calling the police, of course, Mother said, to no one in particular. But please, she added, turning to the other guests, don’t think anything more about it. Good night. I’m sorry you’ve been disturbed … . And as for you, she went on, calling up to the man in Room 202, you’re going to have to pay for all of this, and I don’t mean just the price of the room. On her way to the second floor, Mother passed the woman. She had scraped the contents back into the bag and was stumbling down the stairs without even bothering to button her blouse. One of the guests whistled at her exposed breast.

Just a minute, you, Mother said into the darkened room and to the prostitute on the stairs. Who’s going to pay? You can’t just slip out after all this fuss. Mother’s first concern was always the money. The prostitute ignored her, but at that moment a voice rang out from above.

Shut up, whore. The voice seemed to pass through us, silencing the whole hotel. It was powerful and deep, but with no trace of anger. Instead, it was almost serene, like a hypnotic note from a cello or a horn.

I turned to find the man standing on the landing. He was past middle age, on the verge of being old. He wore a pressed white shirt and dark brown pants, and he held a jacket of the same material in his hand. Though the woman was completely disheveled, he was not even breathing heavily. Nor did he seem particularly embarrassed. Only the few tangled hairs on his forehead suggested that anything was out of the ordinary.

It occurred to me that I had never heard such a beautiful voice giving an order. It was calm and imposing, with no hint of indecision. Even the word whore was somehow appealing.

Shut up, whore. I tried repeating it to myself, hoping I might hear him say the word again. But he said nothing more.

The woman turned and spat at him pathetically before walking out the door. The spray of saliva fell on the carpet.

You’ll have to pay for everything, Mother said, rounding on the man once more. The cleaning, and something extra for the trouble you’ve caused. And you are not welcome here again, understand? I don’t take customers who make trouble with women. Don’t you forget it.

The other guests went slowly back to their rooms. The man slipped on his jacket and walked down the stairs in silence, never raising his eyes. He pulled two bills from his pocket and tossed them on the counter. They lay there for a moment, crumpled pathetically, before I took them and smoothed them carefully on my palm. They were slightly warm from the man’s body. He walked out into the rain without so much as a glance in my direction.

I’ve always wondered how our inn came to be called the Hotel Iris. All the other hotels in the area have names that have to do with the sea.

It’s a beautiful flower, and the name of the rainbow goddess in Greek mythology. Pretty stylish, don’t you think? When I was a child, my grandfather had offered this explanation.

Still, there were no irises blooming in the courtyard, no roses or pansies or daffodils either. Just an overgrown dogwood, a zelkova tree, and some weeds. There was a small fountain made of bricks, but it hadn’t worked in a long time. In the middle of the fountain stood a plaster statue of a curly-haired boy in a long coat. His head was cocked to one side and he was playing the harp, but his face had no lips or eyelids and was covered with bird droppings. I wondered where my grandfather had come up with the story about the goddess, since no one in our family knew anything about literature, let alone Greek mythology.

I tried to imagine the goddess—slender neck, full breasts, eyes staring off into the distance. And a robe with all the colors of the rainbow. One shake of that robe could cast a spell of beauty over the whole earth. I always thought that if the goddess of the rainbow would come to our hotel for even a few minutes, the boy in the fountain would learn to play happy tunes on his harp.

The R in IRIS on the sign on the roof had come loose and was tilted a bit to the right. It looked a little silly, but also slightly sinister. In any event, no one ever thought to fix it.

Our family lived in the three dark rooms behind the front desk. When I was born, there were five of us. My grandmother was the first to go, but that was while I was still a baby so I don’t remember it. She died of a bad heart, I think. Next was my father. I was eight then, so I remember everything.

And then it was grandfather’s turn. He died two years ago. He got cancer in his pancreas or his gallbladder—somewhere in his stomach—and it spread to his bones and his lungs and his brain. He suffered for almost six months, but he died in his own bed. We had given him one of the good mattresses, from a guest room, but only after it had broken a spring. Whenever he turned over in bed, it sounded like someone stepping on a frog.

My job was to sterilize the tube that came out of his right side and to empty the fluid that had collected in the bag at the end of it. Mother made me do this every day after school, though I was afraid to touch the tube. If you didn’t do it right, the tube fell out of his side, and I always imagined that his organs were going to spurt from the hole it left. The liquid in the bag was a beautiful shade of yellow, and I often wondered why something so pretty was hidden away inside the body. I emptied it into the fountain in the courtyard, wetting the toes of the harp-playing boy.

Grandfather suffered all the time, but the hour just before dawn was especially bad. His groans echoed in the dark, mingling with the croaking of the mattress. We kept the shutters closed, but the guests still complained about the noise.

I’m terribly sorry, Mother would tell them, her voice sickly sweet, her pen tapping nervously on the counter. All those cats seem to be in heat at the same time.

We kept the hotel open even on the day grandfather died. It was off-season and we should have been nearly empty, but for some reason a women’s choir had booked several rooms. Strains of Edelweiss or When It’s Lamp-Lighting Time in the Valley or Lorelei filled the pauses in the funeral prayers. The priest pretended not to hear and went on with the service, eyes fixed on the floor in front of him. The woman who owned the dress shop—an old drinking friend of Grandfather’s—sobbed at one point as a soprano in the choir hit a high note and together it sounded almost like harmony. The ladies were singing in every corner of the hotel—in the bath, in the dining room, out on the veranda—and their voices fell like a shroud over Grandfather’s body. But the goddess of the rainbow never came to shake her robe for him.

I saw the man from Room 202 again two weeks later. It was Sunday, and I was out doing some errands for Mother. The sky was clear and the day so warm I’d begun to sweat. Some kids were on the beach trying to get the first tan of the year. The tide was out, and the rocks along the coast were exposed all the way to the seawall. Though it was early in the season, a few tourists could be seen on the restaurant terraces and the excursion boat dock. The sea was still chilly, but the sunlight on the seawall and the bustle in town made it clear that summer was not far off.

Our town came to life for just three months each year. It huddled, silent as a stone, from fall through spring. But then it would suddenly yield to the sea’s gentle embrace. The sun shone on the golden beach. The crumbling seawall was exposed at low tide, and hills rising from beyond the cape turned green. The streets were filled with people enjoying their holidays. Parasols opened, fountains frothed, champagne corks popped, and fireworks lit up the night sky. The restaurants, bars, hotels, and excursion boats, the souvenir shops, the marinas—and even our Iris—were dressed up for summer. Though in the case of the Iris, this meant little more than rolling down the awnings on the terrace, turning up the lights in the lobby, and putting out the sign with the highseason

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Что люди думают о Hotel Iris

3.0
23 оценки / 15 Обзоры
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  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    It seemed as if Yoko Ogawa had no plan in mind when she wrote this novel. The build-up of cruelty and plot seem spontaneous or driven by some indefinite force. Some plot elements are as unlikely and surrealistic as the work of Murakami. Then, too, the stories Ogawa tend to take an unexpected turn, often a pervert twist, which makes her stories both fascinating and repulsive. Like in French novels there is a sudden 'chûte' a sudden revelation that clarifies and fixes the story for the reader. Peculiar but interesting, not for everyone.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    This book about a teen-ager being abused is so well written. I cared so much for this young woman whose feelings were so well described.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (3/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    The plot developed more out of convenience than fulfillment. I like her other novels but this one did not interest me nearly as much. It isn't a bad novella but not a great one either. The protagonist loves the antagonist/support character out of conditioning. I felt there should have been a lot more character exploration internally at this point. She fears and avoids her mother, yet is excited by this abusive man? The ending was rather lack luster as well. It happened to give some sort of resolution but left the story feeling unfinished. I think if the characters had been explored further and there was less focus on sensationalism, I would have given this a higher rating. If you like her other works, go ahead and try this one, but if you are approaching her novels for the first time, this is not the the place to start.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    This is a very interesting little book which is tricky to sum up. Take 50 Shades of Grey, set it in a Japanese seaside resort, replace the bad writing with immense literary aplomb, and replace Jamie Dornan with a creepily seductive, balding Japanese sadist approaching his 70s.Joking aside, I actually really liked this book. It's very evocative, from the disappointing physical setting of the Hotel Iris to the regimented, foreboding island home of the Russian translator. Despite the hot summer setting it feels bleak, dark, brutal and yet compelling, like a foreign art-house movie.Ogawa writes beautifully on a dangerous subject - pleasure and pain, enjoyment and fear, innocence and knowing, love and cruelty.I still have a bit of a 'I'm not sure what I just read there' feeling about this book, which makes me like it all the more.4 stars. (And probably don't lend it to your grandmother).

    1 person found this helpful

  • (3/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    I read Hotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa while taking a break from another (and much longer) Japanese novel, 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. Though one is science fiction and the other is literary fiction, they do share the theme of sex as a means of control.The titular hotel is a struggling, rundown hotel on the Japanese coast. It's well past its prime and is being run by a woman and her teenage daughter, Mari. The sort of place that now brings in johns and prostitutes more than it brings in families or respectable businessmen.The book opens with Mari witnessing her mother tossing out a drunken prostitute. Mari, bored with her work and her isolating life in the hotel, is fascinated by the smooth voice of the fifty-eight year old john. She introduces herself to him and learns he is a translator.Known from that time on as just The Translator, he begins to fill the gaps in Mari's life — quickly pulling her into a world of sex that Mari is not prepared for. Ogawa uses beautiful language to describe a disturbing relationship that brings to mind 1Q84, as I mentioned before, and The Pirate's Daughter by Robert Giradi.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    A sad, disturbing story about damaged people told in beautiful, calm, lucid prose.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    I read this because I loved The Housekeeper and The Professor. This book was not what I was expecting! Which isn't to say it's bad. It is compelling. Ogawa's writing is matter of fact about the strange relationship that unfolds between a 17 year old girl stuck working at her mother's hotel and the man 50 years her senior that she encounters one night at the hotel. I was shocked at the way things turn out, but couldn't look away. It took me a little over two hours to read it start to finish in one sitting. That's quite a recommendation, but it's not for the conservative or easily disturbed!

    1 person found this helpful

  • (3/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Quirky read. Young woman who helps mom run hotel has a strange bondage relationship with a man 50 tears her senior. Very odd senseless book. Writing not bad however

    1 person found this helpful

  • (2/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    This book has a very different ‘love story’ — one that didn’t appeal to me at all. Mari is a seventeen year old girl working at the front desk of her mother’s hotel when she meets a middle aged man whose voice and manner intrigue her. As they get to know each other, it leads to a sexual relationship involving SM. It wasn’t extremely graphic, but still just not my cup of tea nonetheless. I still enjoy Ogawa’s writing style and the translation was great, but I just didn’t like the subject matter so unfortunately I was extremely disappointed. However, I’d still read another Ogawa novel — I just would learn more about the storyline first. 1996, 2010 for the English translation; 164 pp.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (2/5)
    From the age of 12, I have been obsessed with assorted novels revealing love affairs flanked by adolescent girls and older men. Perhaps, due to an discontented teenage fantasy or the fact that reading Marguerite Duras’s 'The Lover' during my 7th grade History class while picturing a virginal 15yr old fucking a 27-yr old Chinese tycoon, made me scribble 'Orgasm' in my notebook. I do not know the precise cause of my addiction, but the sinister juvenile seduction still tantalizes my imagination.

    So, when I selected Hotel Iris, I grinned at my literary dosage of unsophisticated seduction, highly unaware of the disillusionment stored ahead.

    Initiated on the lines of 'The Lover', the narrative ineffectively proceeds into a murky atmosphere of sexual supremacy and secrecy. Ogawa spins a story about Mari and her sexual sadistic lover- a Russian translator in the midst of a scenic Japanese island among numerous ferocious BDSM sessions. Entrancing as it sounds; the tale of a 17 year old Japanese girl taking pleasure in being a sexual slave to a 67yr old closet sexual aggressor is a careless attempt to be Duras. Mari does not come through as seductive or fragile lass. The characterization of each protagonist fails miserably leaving the confrontations dreary. The ineffectiveness of the narrative slithers out as soon the Japanese bondage, sexual frolics fail to electrify your nerves let alone being pulsating from them. Moreover the underlying mystery about the reclusive Russian is misplaced amid the chaotic array of sexual nuances and feeble recovery of the criminal component in the script leaves a trail of skepticism over the designated plot stuck between erotica and mystery. Assertions of Ogawa being the latest Marguerite Duras are an utter sham.
  • (4/5)
    Hotel Iris is set in a seaside resort town in Japan and is run by a widow and her 17 year old daughter, Mari, the protagonist in this story. Mari is dominated by her mother and isolated from the world outside the hotel where she works the desk and anything else her mother requires of her. Her mother still does her hair every day and brags to anyone who will listen about her daughter's beauty. Mari endures this and does not outwardly rebel, but inner rebellion can be much more destructive.Mari becomes intrigued with a middle aged client of the hotel when she witnesses a scene between him and a prostitute at the hotel, causing them both to be kicked out.. It turns out he is a translator of Russian and lives on a remote island off the shore. Mari becomes involved in a dark, clandestine affair with him. Although she is given warnings about the translator's dark character she is drawn to him as her means of rebellion. The encounters between Mari and the translator although sparely written are violent and graphic. The writing in this story is skillful and beautiful. The author, in this translation, is able to reveal the beauty in ugliness and the ugliness in beauty through scenes of Mari caring for her dying grandfather, the death of her father, and other scenes. There are a lot of descriptions of death for such a small book. There is also a heavy emphasis on sensation and perception of appearance that relates to the beauty/ugly theme.I read this shortly after our book group read another of Ogawa's books, The Housekeeper and the Professor. The two stories could not be more different. But the skill of the author stands out in both.
  • (3/5)
    One of the most bizarre and disturbing books I have ever read. Yet, it was like a train wreck. I could not look away. I can't decide if I loved the book because it is beautifully written and pulls you in or if I hated the book because of the story and characters itself. I know I will be thinking about it for a while.
  • (3/5)
    I'm not really sure where I heard of this book but it popped up on my Amazon wishlist and looked interesting. Aftr in being my first Kindle purchase(!) I started what I found quite an interesting story of a young girl living in a seaside village.The voice of the girl, Mari, is very real and you can feel her fear that she has of her mother and other incidents in her life. I seemed to breeze right through this story. Although it was a Japanese author and story, it translated quite well to English. Definitely a recommended read.
  • (4/5)
    The review by "namierror" sums up my feelings exactly. I could not have written my feelings about it this well.
  • (5/5)
    I read Ogawa's The Housekeeper and the Professor last year and fell in love with the prose and the story so I was happy to come across Hotel Iris. Ogawa continues to impress me with her exquisite, sparse prose that falls from the pages like transparent cherry blossom petals.That is where the similarities between The Housekeeper and the Professor and Hotel Iris end. Hotel Iris has a dark, disturbing undertone to the story that may make this a difficult story for some individuals to read. Taking place at an unnamed seaside resort town on the coast of Japan over the course of one fateful summer, 17 year old Mari develops a clandestine sexual relationship with a much, much older man that lives on an island a short ferry ride from the resort town. This man, a free-lance Russian translator by profession, exhibits some disturbing shifts in behavior, from mild mannered and polite, to demanding, controlling and abusive. Mari's attraction to the abusive side of the translator's personality is a juxtaposition to what one would expect and is at odds with the beautiful words used by Ogawa to communicate this story.As I said, this story will probably not appeal to a broad audience of readers given what can be characterized as a rather disturbing subject matter, but I feel that the story is a well crafted and thought provoking presentation of the violent side of human attraction and intimacy.