Read Netsuke by Rikki Ducornet Online


Ruled by his hunger for erotic encounters, a deeply wounded psychoanalyst seduces both patients and strangers with equal heat. Driven to compartmentalize his life, the doctor attempts to order and contain his lovers as he does his collection of rare netsuke, the precious miniature sculptures gifted to him by his wife. This riveting exploration of one psychoanalyst’s abuseRuled by his hunger for erotic encounters, a deeply wounded psychoanalyst seduces both patients and strangers with equal heat. Driven to compartmentalize his life, the doctor attempts to order and contain his lovers as he does his collection of rare netsuke, the precious miniature sculptures gifted to him by his wife. This riveting exploration of one psychoanalyst’s abuse of power unearths the startling introspection present within even the darkest heart....

Title : Netsuke
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781566892537
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 128 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Netsuke Reviews

  • Seemita
    2019-01-18 20:33

    In the family of exhilaration, stupor is a vulpine breed. One can often find it lying sulking behind the pure aura of dream, its distant and more heralded cousin. But make no mistake, Sir; its sulking is its unusual way of bulking up its body, flexing its muscles, gritting its teeth and augmenting its personality, all to handover that singular fatal blow which sends dream and its fragments, many fathoms down the irretrievable pit of life. Should you not be a nimble-footed and quicksilver witty, losing your handful of possessions (dreams included) would be your only alternative.And here we have, a psychoanalyst, under the hypnotic spell of not just stupor, but an erotic one at that! If pressed to unravel the plot, my review may not last more than a sentence: a married couple, a psychoanalyst and his artist wife, Akiko, living through a rough patch in their relationship, which is further endangered by the wayward attitude of the husband, gathering sexual partners with the urgency of gathering shells on the beach before the sunset. But the beauty of this work lies not in what the couple is doing but why the couple is doing what they are doing. Ducornet is unabashed in her portrayal of the husband, disbanding him to tell his guilt as a first person account. Should that mean he mellows and gives dignity to his actions? He doesn’t. Because he feels compartmentalizing life between spouse and partners brings the essential prick of culpability, that tingling sensation of unexpected capture which fuels the Thanatos. It is not without reasons that the dangerous has a greater pull than the sheltered since living is what we do every day, annihilation is a captivating aberration. Akiko pointed out a series of anamorphoses and their cylindrical mirrors. Painted on paper, they were incomprehensible, an ugly spill of color. But when one looked at their reflections on the curved surfaces of the mirrors, they became fully visible. And they were erotic. Shamelessly so. They were beautiful and they were obscene. I am like these. The netsuke which epitomizes tenderness, beauty and utility, can also contract streaks of devilish germs if not placed in the proper menagerie under the right lighting. Although the collection of physical netsuke that Akiko presents her husband, stands helpless witness to his clandestine sessions of copulation, the metaphoric netsuke is none other than Akiko herself. Like the collection, she is beautiful and tender, glazed and precious; but like the collection, she is admired from afar, imprisoned in her body and traded for better pieces. And in her mute, equanimous stupor, she opens her palms and lets slip the jewels that were holding her dazzle among all other netsuke.I often wondered how it feels to defend a miscreant. Knowing he has committed a wrong and still choosing to defend him requires courage or indifference? Perhaps both. Perhaps because deciding who the miscreant is mandates a far stronger armory than that of testaments and evidences. And perhaps sometimes, the defendant turns offender with the surreptitious carving of undesired lines that smudge the distinction between impulse and restraint, shoveling vanilla minds to a prolonged stupor of duplicitous identities. The penultimate second I saw, Akiko and her husband were burning in the conflagration of retrospection and stealing a side glance at each other in the search of a guilty wrinkle. The last second I saw, the netsuke had turned dark in their reflection.

  • Vessey
    2019-02-05 20:30

    Slightly spoileryHe is an actor, an escapist, an explorer of the dark and rusty corners of the human soul and all those little, guilty selves that swim just below the surface, always waiting to emerge and reveal to us one less than ideal identity, or, as in his case, a destructive one. At its core this is a novel about destruction. To him people are no more than mere figures, voiceless objects, beautiful pieces of wood, netsukes. He explores them, savoures them, destroys them. To him they are "a hope. To annihilate". He is a collector of human misery, he pursues death. To him sex is not an exquisite pleasure, nor a process of creating a new life. To him danger is the strongest stimulant and every sexual act is another step toward his goal of ultimate self-destruction. Because he is "the spirit of negation". To him "a body opens like a flower, like a wound beneath the assassin’s knife, a street hit by a grenade.". This is a very dark story - enriched by the sensual and original voice of the author - that strips the body of one "normal" marriage and reveals all its imperfections with bold candour, showing that quite often beneath all the glamor, makeup, dashing clothes and dazzling smiles there are scars. Scars that are often visible only to the one that bears them. He tries to show those scars to the only person of some value to him - by dropping "clues" - but she stays blind to them and even when they become bloody red, she ignores them. The ending is tragic and brutal and while I thought it didn't serve any particular purpose, I see it differently now. I think that had it been any different, it wouldn't have sent the message it sends. And it is a simple message. "Wake up before it's too late". It calls for us to look deeper into ourselves and those close to us, it begs us not to let ourselves be so dazzled by the beauty of the netsuke as to lose all desire to feel and understand its substance. Open your eyes, because the life that's on the line may turn out to be your own.Read count: 1

  • Scribble Orca
    2019-02-07 23:34

    Ah! Another teetering indecision writ large. More than four and less than five* (because as a matter of taste, Gazelle is so lyrically beautiful that Netsuke, for all its brilliance, its macabre sensitivity, its fever dream quality, it rattles rather than ravishes) and my longer review to follow.Suffice to say (au ce moment) that it is shocking, but not in the closet-prude-turned-avid-voyeur way...shocking in its execution, its exploration, its ethereal decadence and its twisted rendering and its unavoidable fascination - a train wreck in motion approaching its inexorable conclusion...******I recommend this book as other than the first foray into Ducornet because this is a writer who commenced powerful (and powerfully) and has developed and extended her range in such a way that to ingest of her, like partaking of finely aged and accented wine without having learned to appreciate the gradations of structure, vintage, palate, and bouquet and pronounce it thus the equivalent of mass-produced and vat-manufactured fermented fruit less than fit to be included in the concoction of the blushful Hippocrene, sans the experience of her transition from gifted raw to genius sophistication risks lacking the necessary apperception and raffinesse to discern the nuances of the story as it unfolds.Which it does, on a number of levels. The voices of the protagonists are discrete, differentiated and sustained for the length of the novel, irrespective of whether Ducornet employs the first-person point-of-view (which she does, to astounding effect and lending an immediacy all the more acute and penetrating, in present tense) or omniscient narrator, and despite a spare, stark, prose, brutal in its impact, which is not her hallmark style, but which suits the character of her lead protagonist and creates the sense of impending, unavoidable doom that propels the story to its final annihilation. There is no redemption, no reassembling, no means to thwart or defeat the outcome of succumbing to compulsion.This ability that Ducornet exhibits to craft her prose according to the atmosphere required of that which she wishes to explore, that to which she wishes to direct our attention and force our appraisal (of ourselves and the situation) is reflected in both the title of the work and the netsuke comprising part of the protagonist's collection of art pieces in which he professes so little aesthetic interest, and which inform his personality, his perspective and raison d'etre - the objectification and compartmentalisation of each aspect of his life as a means to deal with his Existenzkrise. That his wife is Japanese is not because she embodies a fascination with the culture but because she is emblematic of its elegance and ethereality, the purity of its precision, its lack of ambiguity, exemplified in the netsuke, miniature sculptures used as toggles to secure small containers to the obi of kimono and kosode, and traditionally worn to adorn men.The imagery created by the prose demands the reader's willing collusion; but expect scenes to remain long after closing the book. Not because of graphic description of action, but because of graphic allusion. That is a degree of skill that few modern writers evince, let alone master. And it is perfectly suited to the material Ducornet treats here. Avoid reading this book if you expect a pop-corn style reality-docu-drama of a taboo subject - you'll be disappointed. But if you would allow yourself the vicarious experience of a relentless, sensuous, descent into hell, reading this book will bring its own provocative reward.*On reflection, five stars.And an excellent rebuttal of a most ridiculous NYT article on the book is to be found here:

  • Lynne King
    2019-01-18 15:19

    Rikki Ducornet has surpassed herself in this excellent book. She is a combination of Lawrence Durrell with his artistic prose and Anais Nin, the queen of sensuality, dreams and illusions.This is a tough one to write a review on. How can I possibly even attempt to describe the sublime fabric of this enthralling book; where sensuality, obsession and self-destruction affect not only one soul but several? I can but try…Titles always play a large part when I acquire a book and also the cover (even with a favourite author), and this was no exception. Netsuke; what does Netsuke mean? It sounds Japanese and so it proved to be:“Netsuke – a small Japanese carved ornament, once used to fasten small objects, e.g. a purse or pouch for tobacco, medicines, etc. to a sash – now collectors’ pieces.” (Chambers English dictionary)“Netsuke, like the inrō and ojime, evolved over time from being strictly utilitarian into objects of great artistic merit and an expression of extraordinary craftsmanship. Such objects have a long history reflecting the important aspects of Japanese folklore and life. Netsuke production was most popular during the Edo period in Japan, around 1615-1868. Today, the art lives on, and some modern works can command high prices in the UK, Europe, the USA, Japan and elsewhere. Inexpensive yet faithful reproductions are available in museums and souvenir shops.”(Wikipedia – I hope that this is correct) And these precious miniatures are the catalyst to this book. They were given to our narrator by his wife Akiko, a Japanese artist with whom he’s been married for ten years and had always, until recent events took place, dearly loved. How often do you go to bed thinking about a book? Quite often I’m sure. But has any book resonated so much that its prose continues to throb within the rhythmic labyrinth of your own mind until you reach the land of dreams? Well this certainly happened to me with this splendid book. First and foremost, this is an in-depth study of the human mind and shows the levels to which an individual will go, regardless of the outcome, in order to achieve his/her aims.How does a psychoanalyst (who remains unnamed for some obscure reason– shades of “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier here), who seduces his patients and even strangers, manage to compartmentalize his life? Initially it works out to his satisfaction but gradually all of the deception involved impinges on his marriage with Akiko. Her love for him regrettably slowly sours (and that’s the poignant part of this book) as his lies become more and more apparent, and she questions what is happening to their love, as any normal lover/wife would. But finally enough is enough and even our “protagonist” inevitably despises himself for what he’s doing by destroying his marriage and truly negating it; regrettably his carnal desire is more important to him and he slowly slides into the abyss of self-destruction, dragging others along with him too.Akiko fascinated me and our narrator lives in perpetual fear that she will catch him out on his jaunts. There are too many lies that can trip him up. She constantly expresses the desire for a holiday but he cannot do that for the simple reason he fears by being alone with her, she will find him out for what he truly is.For me, apart from this incredible prose, the individual who really bowled me over was David Swancourt and also our narrator:“There are the people who make for thrilling lovers. Invariably their attraction is compromising. The risk is immense. But one is like them. One is willing to risk everything if only to burn brightly for a moment. The world is full of people such as this. People raging with hunger who may at any instant implode. Our planet is studded with such black holes. I have considered developing a cosmology of this ruinous eroticism.”From the outset our narrator is desperate for David both physically and mentally. This will prove to be a challenge in more ways than one. David was everything our narrator required and desired, and when he meets Jello (interesting how Jello arrives into the equation here and I had to read this part about three times to ensure that what I was reading was indeed the case!), well Pandora indeed opens the box, no possibility of any hope here, and the troubles begin for our narrator when poor “Cutter” (known as Kat), gets involved and becomes aware of David. It’s worth mentioning that she was pre-David in her relationship with our narrator. The scene that follows is mind-blowing but funny (well for this poor creature anyway in the description and the antics that followed). What a mistake was made there… To me, “Cutter” one of the clients (Akiko questioned him why he didn’t refer to these individuals as patients as she believed them to be) was the cutting knife on the path to destruction for our psychoanalyst…the inevitable downward spiral.The book is pornographic, well to me, in parts but on the whole, it is a sensual, and yet dramatic book in that there’s a strong plot, which I really hadn’t expected. Also the attention to detail, such as our protagonist who is constantly washing himself; trying to wash away his guilt more than anything. This goes back to his childhood.Black humour is often portrayed in the text and the ending was not at all what I expected; in fact I did a double take when I read the last paragraph. This is a great analytical book of the psyche and is a joy to read; with odd frissons from time to time. This multi-faceted author’s work is exquisite, magical, compelling and compulsive reading. When I finally finished it, I then reread the salient parts slowly to ensure that I hadn’t missed any of the finer points of this tantalizing work.Bravo Rikki Ducornet! Bravo…I loved it…My only regret, when I read excellent books such as these, is that I wish I could write something sparkling, not necessarily in this style but in my own unique way. I need to find my voice but how and when? Give me inspiration RD.

  • Paquita Maria Sanchez
    2019-02-15 16:25

    Thanks for that, Goodreads Trending. That was...well, that was something, all right. I especially thank you for adding to my deep-seated fears about how everyone is awful to everyone forever and ever and ever. And because I love having even my self-destructive, paranoia-induced cynicism validated? And because it was good? On to the next one!Oh, and don't be fooled by the cover; I assure you this is not a Pottery Barn catalog.

  • Ian
    2019-01-31 23:14

    A Novel of the Marquis de SadeThere's a little of Nietzsche and a lot of the Marquis de Sade in the unnamed protagonist of "Netsuke". He's a psychoanalyst who lives and works in an unidentified city, presumably in America. He's selfish, vain, conceited, imperious, promiscuous:"If I am called the Marquis de Sade of psychiatry, what of it? Detested by some, venerated by others."It doesn't worry him that he divides opinion. He openly courts the dialectic of polar opposites. In him, the beautiful and the obscene, good and evil, life and death, Eros and Thanatos cleave together like the wood and lacquer coating of a netsuke (a small Japanese carving or sculpture):"I am the spirit of negation. My aspects are twinned. I am attraction and repulsion. In this way I turn inexorable. I am a wheel..."It's not a netsuke, but it's mine!A Prince Amongst Creatures of DarknessHis patients (he calls them clients) are creatures of darkness, while he thinks of himself as a Prince of Darkness, the Prince of Saturn, a Greek god, a Hell to his artist wife Akiko's Heaven.He rationalises having sex with his clients. He's even writing a book about it: "The body is imperious. And king!" He plays the centaur to their nymph. He needs them as much as they need him. Not content with the more grounded world of reality, he lives for the abyss, the black hole, the interstices, the gaps between safe middle class niches. Like de Sade, he's not appeased by the freedom that material wealth offers him. He must expose himself and those around him to the potential for loss. He transgresses, he takes risks, he leaves clues, he longs to be discovered, knowing that he might and should be punished:"To risk annihilation. I court annihilation...there is a self within me who would crush Akiko's gentle neck."Sex DriveOstensibly, the analyst's whole world revolves around sex:"If the world is a dream, then fucking is as close to awakening as I can get. If the world is real, then fucking is as close to dreaming as I can be."However, he necessarily involves his partners in his risk-taking. His affairs take place "in the face of death. These are the people who make for thrilling lovers...The risk is immense...people raging with hunger who may at any instant implode."Yet, ultimately, he's not satisfied. No matter how much his clients fascinate him, he feels compromised, filthy. His sexual encounters are too often "without elan, without delight."His relationships confront him with a self that even he fails to comprehend:."...the sex he exacts from them plays out the imperious need he has - for reasons beyond his own capacity to understand - for a sexuality driven by death."An Appetite for DestructionRegardless of all the sex, the protagonist shares a hunger with his lovers that can't be satiated. They're like "two wasps devouring the flesh of a fig. There they were...the two of them, hungry and twinned."Ducornet uses the wasp carver analogy throughout the novel (there are also fig and persimmon netsuke):"I was bred to anger, born and bred to rage. I eat away at the ripe flesh of things like a wasp eats away at the body of a fig, leaving it to rot."That which gives us sustenance, life, love, happiness contains death within it. What was once alive must one day rot. What was once organic must one day return to the inorganic.The End of the TunnelEven if the analyst fails to understand it himself, he seems to personify the death drive. Eros is not enough for him, life is not enough:"[I] was not intended for delight. Delight was made to elude me."The analyst and his lovers eschew banality for the inevitable risk of catastrophe. They want to be "fucked to death, fucked into oblivion."The question then is whether the death drive of Thanatos will prevail over the sex drive of Eros. Can Akiko save her marriage? Can the analyst save himself? Can the Minotaur and Eve return to the land of milk and honey, the Eden that existed pre-Fall, pre-Slap? Can they revive their prelapsarian innocence? Can they reverse the Fall?This short novel propels us with exquisitely crafted erotic energy towards each successive encounter and its climax. We can't help but read on, eager to learn whether the couple finds darkness rather than delight at the end of the tunnel.A 19th century wood netsuke of a wasp in a persimmon fruit (by Kogetsu)SOUNDTRACK:Miles Davis - "Prince Of Darkness" Ducornet on Bookworm [2011]

  • Mary
    2019-02-02 23:40

    What was this destructive, vague, twisted thing I just read? I think I was holding my breath the entire time. At once excessive and sparse, it was tense, bizarre...unlikeable, yet I think I liked it.

  • MJ Nicholls
    2019-01-28 23:40

    A lean uncoiling heart-attack of a novella. Simple, melancholic prose limning tortured hearts in splinter. Beautiful.

  • Nate D
    2019-01-27 18:27

    An exercise in compressed power, bold and precise. In marked contrast to some of her meandering earlier works, this one sees Ducornet at her sleekest and most directed, with nary a word nor plot point out of place or overextended beyond its essentials. In fact her words all seem to be working at double-strength, so perfectly are they selected and strung together. Ducornet has also reigned in the excess of whimsy that bugged me in some mid-period works -- this is all ominous coiling and deeply flawed human drama. I loved The Stain as well, but I'm actually entirely surprised by how close this comes to outdoing that classic, in entirely different ways, nearly 30 years later.

  • Cody
    2019-02-15 21:20

    For all you macho masochists who dig that enormous shitpile American Psycho, I kindly raise you a Netsuke for an instructional in how dissociative identity can be done right. Rather than sit here and enumerate the many, many faults of AP (which would be fun), I will just say that what Ducornet accomplishes in 128-pages—fuck, two pages!—is light-years beyond BE Ellis’ ability to capture the anesthetizing affect of Modern Life as Rubbish (hat-tip, Coxon). (Disclosure: I’m not a psychiatrist, but I play one on TV.)This is deeply disturbing stuff, told with razor sharp precision. The word play rivals Nabokov (“the look of her dis-ease”) and prose to rival anyone. Pick up what I’m laying down for you:“In the end I am like Death Himself with a scythe of ice. Yes, that’s it: my blade is like the ones Eskimos were said to make of ice in the polar regions. There is the story of the Eskimo who makes himself a knife out of his own excrement because it is all he has. And it is as sharp as steel.I think I am like that Eskimo. I live in a wasteland and yet I survive because I own a knife of shit.”Contextually, it all works. Scout’s honor that books that deal with sex are decidedly not my preferred brand of cigarette—there’s only so many times I can read about cocks and cunts before I get all misty eyed remembering the good old days in Salem out witch-hunting with the boys. But when it is rendered thusly, how can I deny its power? And kudos to Ducornet for having the nameless doctor’s sexual obsession veer fully into homosexual territory. Why wouldn’t it? To this character, gender is immaterial as the endgoal is negation, never passion; this satanic potter exists only to fill holes and shatter the remains once spent. Still, most authors would’ve kept him a woman hater. Chalk up another reason I love me some Rikki (you think it’s easy to inspire Don of The Dan?)“You fill a house with precious things; they break. You fill a heart with precious things; it breaks. In the end it all breaks. All night long I hear bones snapping. My nights are my star chamber. In my dreams the elusive sweetness of the world is just around the corner: up a tree, waiting in the silver tower, at the top of the mountain, in a box secreted at the bottom of the sea, in the flame of Aladdin’s lamp. And always between these legs or maybe those: the divine secret of sweetness.Is it, I wonder, the same sweetness that seizes the fish when it spills its sperm. And the tigers when they fuck? The serpents as they coil and uncoil, thrashing in the mud together? Could it be that this elusive sweetness is at the heart of everything? Coupling, striving for delight. As once in Tahiti, Samoa, such places—”It’s all so damn short and perfect—and will set you back a whole shiny penny (plus shipping) on Amazon—that I beseech you to spend the very short time investment. Its returns are as disruptive as a slip faults’. Then again, that’s likely informed by me being a parochial prude who masturbates with the lights out with a burlap sack over my head, tears of shame my sole lubricant. Wait, is that oversharing? Blame Netsuke.

  • Nathan
    2019-01-29 17:38

    Guess I'm just not that tripped up with fucking and how it will fuck you up to have this one grip me quite so much.

  • Joshua
    2019-01-26 16:38

    Again, the writing here is top-notch. It seems that everyone has a different favorite Ducornet novel and I am starting to see why - she has a wide range and a deep style so there are plenty of great works to choose from. How lucky that there are still six or so novels of hers I have left to read. At this point, I don't see why I would stop until I've read them all.

  • Anthony Vacca
    2019-02-07 18:25

    From the inimitable mind and deft fingers of Anthony Vacca, and found within his review for The Stain:"... a chilling yet sublime nightmare about a psychoanalyst who offsets his own self-loathing by sexually preying on his patients - until he sets in motion certain events that detonate his life of glass into an eruption of deeply disturbed psyches...flawlessly"

  • Vonia
    2019-01-21 23:23

    Sadly, such a thin little novel. How I wish it were longer. Exploring the psyche of a married man obsessed with sexual fulfillment, Netsuke is written with such talent; passages read like poetry, monologues fascinate, descriptions of both the mental and physical world miraculously induce visual translations, insightful thoughts encourage readers to questions their lives and the lives of those around them. According to The International Netsuke Society, the title refers to "a small sculptural object which has gradually developed in Japan over a period of more than three hundred years. Netsuke (singular and plural) initially served both functional and aesthetic purposes. The traditional form of Japanese dress, the kimono, had no pockets. Women would tuck small personal items into their sleeves, but men suspended their tobacco pouches, pipes, purses, writing implements, and other items of daily use on a silk cord passed behind their obi (sash). These hanging objects are called sagemono. The netsuke was attached to the other end of the cord preventing the cord from slipping through the obi. A sliding bead (ojime) was strung on the cord between the netsuke and thesagemono to allow the opening and closing of the sagemono." The protagonist's unfortunate wife, Akiko, collects these these miniature sculptures, giving many if then to him, in display in both their home and his offices. Pronounced "nets-keh", they serve as symbolic anchors throughout the novel. It is never explicitly stated, but it seems evident to me that the protagonist, whom remains nameless, has a sex addiction. In that way, it matches the "behind-the-scenes" look at this way of life to one of my favorite films of all time, Shame with Michael Fassbender. However, the latter discusses the pain of such an addiction rather than the mere facts in far more details. However, this may not be something I should penalize Netsuke for, as the protagonist seems to be in denial and/or actually has no interest in getting better. I love the intimacy the author offers, such as his naming of the offices he has in his profession as a psychoanalyst. He names them Cabinets, an allusion to the Netsuke. He categorizes his patients as Spells (the ones he has sexual relations with) & Drears (no sexual intimacy, therefore infinitely less fun). He names his three amours The Cutter (very needy, makes a serious suicide attempt when she finds out that she is not the only patient he sleeps with), Lucy, & Jello, (the alternative name for David, a recently decided transexual). His fourth amour, if she can be defined as such, is his wife Akiko. I feel for her. She was clearly the type that did not want to find out, admit to the clues right before her eyes. She subconciously knows that her husband is cheating on her, but does not admit this to herself, let alone anyone else, that almost everything he says is lies. Last but not least, the writing is lyrical. Numerous passages were impressively psychologically astute. I am definitely looking forward to another of her novels.

  • Andrew
    2019-02-12 19:24

    A brief, intense novel about why you shouldn't fuck everything you meet, all told through the framework of those little Japanese tchotchkes.I could draw the comparisons... the thoroughly unlikeable narrator of William Gass' The Tunnel, or Sam Lipsyte at his most snarly, maybe a stroke of Don DeLillo there, a touch of Martin Amis... but this is the compacted version. The self-indulgent prick of a psychoanalyst main character reflects nothing outside of himself, and his main concern with his wife is making sure they agree on the same restaurant.It's good to read ugly novels that beat you up. Especially when you see their darkness and ugliness reflected in you, the reader. If you don't have a yardstick, you can't look at the world properly.

  • Ellie
    2019-01-23 23:37

    Netsuke (Japanese:根付): miniature sculptures invented in 17th-century Japan for a practical function (the Japanese characters ne+tsuke mean "root" & "to attach"): traditional robescalled kosode & kimono had no pockets & men needed a place to store personal belongings, so they put them in containers hung by cords from the robes' sashes (obi). The most popular holders were crafted boxes (inro) fastened by a carved, button-like toggle called a netsuke. Over time, netsuke evolved from utilitarian objects into art that reflected aspects ofJapanese folklore & life. Netsuke was popular during the Edo period (1615-1868) but artists continue to make them today. Some modern works command high prices. (Thanks Wikipedia)The above is to provide a little background to the very talented Rikki Ducornet's forthcoming book, Netsuke. I am a huge fan of Ducornet and was thrilled to win this book from LibraryThing. I was also very fearful: it can be nerve-wracking to review someone who is an accomplished author not to mention the fear of "what if I don't like it?"Luckily (as with the last book I won from Goodreads) I loved the book. Or at the very least liked it a lot. The writing is, as always with Ducornet impeccable. Actually, sometimes her writing can become quite ornate (in her more fairy tale-type stories) but this was realistic and highly readable prose. I was completely engaged with her characters and their relationship and mesmerized by their experience. But I was still nervous about writing this review.Why? Because Netsuke is a very dark and disturbing story of sexuality addicted to self-destruction. The book is not explicit in its depictions but it is very explicit in the emotional needs and consequences. And while I found the tale mesmerizing I can imagine it is not to everyone's taste.The story is told from in the first person by a psychoanalyst who is having an affair with a client, a woman who is addicted to self-mutilation. But he is addicted to sex, more generally-to brief liaisons with women he passes while running in the park (the story takes place in Washington State), waitresses, really anyone. He's been married three times and is desperate to make this last marriage work.In his office he keeps a cabinet of netsuke, the carved figures described above. His wife, a Japanese artist, carves these tiny figures, some of which are highly erotic. These figures come to have a literal and symbolic in the life the husband as we follow his increasingly self-destructive behavior.The book is a slender volume which I read in one sitting of several hours. And then read it again over the next two days (more slowly the second time). I was entranced: as terrible as the story is, Ducornet brings her sense of mystery and magic, the sensation she creates so well of entrance into another world, in this case a dark and scary one. Fairy tales do not depict happy places although their endings are triumphant. Ducornet's tale has the feeling of being lost in a dark wood with the added realism of life leading where the characters addictions take them.I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is not afraid of some darkness in their fiction. It is beautifully rendered and hypnotic in its power.

  • janine
    2019-02-10 16:30

    Coffee House Press sent me a free uncorrected galley of this book for winning their contest on First Reads (Goodreads Giveaway).And holy moly.I read this book in a single sitting with my jaw open, reminding myself from time to time to breathe. Needless to say, I agree with The New York Times that Rikki Ducornet's "vocabulary sweats with a kind of lyrical heat."Netsuke is a very strange book. It is slim and elegant, yet erotically charged and vast. It is a character study of sorts. Our mostly unnamed character (I did catch one reference to his name) is a psychoanalyst. His practice and his marriage are falling apart, despite his occasional triumphant feelings otherwise. The main thing about our character is that he believes he can heal a select few of his "clients" (he calls them) with sex.Ducornet plays the reader a bit: in a way, you, the reader, cannot help but psychoanalyze the doctor, who is psychoanalyzing patients to avoid psychoanalyzing himself, but come to think of it, aren't you, the reader avoiding the same thing? In that regard, it's kind of like watching Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window -- you cannot help but smile at all of the bizarre reflexivity.Personally, I feel like I was a pretty candidate to read Netsuke. One of my last classes in college was titled "Psychoanalysis and Art." Day in and day out, we discussed the "undifferentiated, unsubstantiated Oneness" of infancy that we all seek. We set up dichotomies, we remarked about the depths of the unconscious and how they're like an iceberg under water and we read a crap ton of Freud. Then we took all of that and used it to watch Alfred Hitchcock films, to read works by Henry James and Kafka, and to view sculptures and Kill Bill and so on, all the while using our newfound "psychoanalyst lens." Ahh, college.And yet, with all of these tools, it was kind of fun to read Netsuke, a book so excessively aware of its debt to Freud. Add in the fact that this book also worked with the concept of interstices/the liminal/the ambiguous (my favorite) and throw in Ducornet's lucid, phenomenal writing and I couldn't stop reading until it was done. And I'm now very interested in both the concept of netsuke, the small Japanese sculptures, and Rikki Ducornet's writing, which I will look out for in the future.But despite all of that, I'm pretty sure this isn't a book for everyone. It's incredibly vulgar and it very much transgresses what is normally thought of as acceptable. It's probably sort of a telling sign that I can't think of anybody in my life to recommend it to....but then again, maybe that's my own conscious inability to let on to my loved ones how messed up my subconscious must be if I enjoyed such a transgressive novel! Zing! You win again, Freud. You always do. Three and a half stars (I've been employing the half star a lot lately, sorry).

  • Conor
    2019-02-16 17:38

    A good, disturbing, short novel that felt like The Vegetarian infused with Maggie Nelson's lyric abilities.

  • margaret
    2019-02-12 17:39

    Someone wrote a good review on the last page of my library copy: "puerile; haunting for no good reason." Can't say I feel any book needs a reason to be haunting, but it's puerile for sure (I mean really, who sleeps with their therapist and imagines they're the first? A silly, simple premise). And transgender women deserve better than than this sensationalist take. But, it is lovely at times.

  • christa
    2019-02-15 17:31

    Back when I was in my 20s, and before 9/11 made saying such things tacky, one of my friends used to refer to the systematic dismantling of ones life as "Crashing the plane." When we engaged in some sort of horrific behavior, using erratic means to quickly thrust a relationship status into critical condition, when we did something passive aggressive at work that caused the loathing to show throw the seams, any sort of rash bad behavior that would implode on itself, that was crashing the plane.The main character in Rikki Ducornet's novella "Netsuke" is definitely trying to crash the plane.When the story opens, the world's least ethical psychoanalyst is out for a run. He exchanges glances with woman on the path and a few seconds later they are rutting in the woods. This sparks some inner monologue about his dual nature: The doctor with a practice in an office on his property, married to an artsy perfectionist who collects netsuke, Japanese ornaments.Back at home the psychiatrist takes and hour-long shower to wash away the bad and become the man he thinks his wife believes him to be. The rest of the time he is bedding down with a parade of people -- store clerks, strangers and patients including a cutter and a cross dresser. Then he drops hints for his wife about his bad behavior, taking her to restaurants he shares with lovers or telling her details from sessions to spark her jealousy. Sometimes just saying the word "woman" aloud to her in a way that gives him a thrill.When she begins to shift into frustration over his busy schedule, or she starts to sense something is amiss, he makes empty promises about getting away together soon. In the later part of the book, Aikio is given a voice and a reader finds that she knows more than she thinks she knows.There is some wonderful writing here, although better if you read the book in one sitting. Coming back to it removes dulls the flow and makes it sound a little overly pretty and self conscious. The psychoanalyst in particular has this sort of manic and brainiac-ness to him, like a Poe character, with shifts between first and third person that really seal him as this sex addict slash narcissist. Reading it feels like stumbling on an indie film you've never heard of starring Ben Kingsley.Plotwise, there isn't a lot to hold on to here. It is a lot of the same, a rolling boil of conflict that doesn't escalate quite enough. His relationships never getting beyond the physical. And when the story shifts to include perspectives of his lovers and wife, the voices aren't really distinct. Even a moment when two of his patients discover they are both getting special treatment is a sort of gray area that lacks tension.

  • Fred
    2019-02-04 20:34

    --In this short novel (127 pages), Ducornet tells the story of a thrice married psychoanalyst who is sleeping with practically everyone except his artist wife. The stage is set in the opening paragraphs with a brief and anonymous encounter while the doctor is jogging in a public park. We soon learn that he has and does include many of his patients as partners. --The author has created a marvelous character study of a pathological personality whose self-delusion extends well past his own life, and ultimately ruins the lives of many. No spoilers here, as is my policy in these reviews, but allow me to say that the finality at the end of the story felt appropriate. It surprised me without being all that surprising.--Side note: author Rikki Ducornet is the subject of Steely Dan's hit "Rikki Don't Lose That Number". Having been a Dan fan for more than 40 years, I only just learned that "Rikki" is the name of an actual person (the wife of one of Donald Fagan's professors). Having learned that she became I writer, I was curious to sample her work. I'm glad I did.

  • Amy
    2019-01-30 15:37

    I won an uncorrected galley copy of Netsuke through the Firstreads Giveaway. I'm not a reviewer by trade, but I'll drop off a few fragmented thoughts.The blurb on the back cover gives an excellent overview of the story. The story itself is told short chapters, and within some of those chapters are vignettes (another allusion to the netsuke of the title) and thoughts/reflections of the various characters.The prose is lovely and engrossing, with some wonderful similes and metaphors; some blatantly sexual. (I may come back and quote some passages later - but for now, it's not advised, this being a galley copy, and not "final"). It's a compelling psychological portrait of the main character, the psychoanalyst. He can rationalize and explain his actions so that what he does seems "logical."This is the first book I've read by Rikki Ducornet, and based on this, I plan to read more of her work.

  • Holly
    2019-01-22 21:21

    I agree with other recent reviewers that this book was a lovely surprise. I also received an advance copy from goodreads, but was so happy that I did. There is a great deal of foul language and sexual content, so the reader who is sensitive to this should be warned, but for those who are willing, this book is fabulous. It is certainly more literature and prose than a page turner or fun read, but its size and quality suit each other perfectly should you enjoy the former. This is a dark and delicious book about the unraveling of a psychotherapist set upon self-destruction, to the detriment of everyone else around him as well. It is also a book about betrayal of the self through denial and betrayal of others, the dark repercussions that events in childhood can have on people as they grow up, and the inescapable stains on the soul created by cruelty. Healer, heal thyself.

  • Suzanne
    2019-01-29 15:24

    I hardly know what to say. That was interesting. Fascinating and beautifully written. Intense, erotic, disturbing. And kind of creepy.

  • Bookworm
    2019-02-17 20:33

    Netsuke is the story about a married psychiatrist who sleeps with his patients. The narrative is lyrical and at times blunt and this novella was an unexpected gem.Author Rikki Ducornet does an excellent job at getting inside the doctor's mind and at expressing his thoughts. This psychiatrist is unwilling to stop cheating on his wife and has been living this secret life for many years. He seems to want his wife to find out about his infidelities, he drops clues often, but she turns a blind eye. The wife, Akiko, is a successful artist, often away due to her work. This is the doctor's third marriage and the couple live well off because of their professions. The doctors lover's all have issues and he seems to enjoy playing with fire this way. One of his partners is a young woman who cuts herself, another is a cross-dresser. He has no shame in his sexual encounters, whether they occur in his office or in his home. He even schedules his affairs into his week on a regular basis, i.e. Fridays afternoons are kept open for sex with patients.The doctor himself is despicable, not only is he unfaithful, but he is taking advantage of his patients. I couldn't help but be sucked into this story and was curious as to whether he would get caught. He was unstable and impulsive, and his actions kept shocking me until the final page. When he wants to impress a patient, he goes out and buys new clothes, bringing his wife along for her opinion.I felt he both loved and hated his wife. He resents her for his own unfaithful ways, blaming her for his behavior. His complex character is what made the story. I found it ironic that the doctor was the one that needed the therapy. This is the type of book that you read slowly. Some of the passages were poetic, and I found myself re-reading them. Due to the subject matter, I found this to be very impressive. I also found it impressive that for being just 127 pages long, this was heavy reading. This is not the type of book you read in a single sitting. But always the clock strikes. The knife falls. In love I am only blind. There is no knowledge there. No purifying fire. A moment's bliss and then: the mule brays.p.37I should mention that there is graphic language used in this story, I know some readers would veer away from that. Sex is a main theme in this book. I didn't mind the explicit language, I felt that it added to the straightforwardness and darkness of the story. Rikki Ducornet is an interesting writer and a poet, and I would definitely read her work again.

  • Brigita Lamserova
    2019-02-09 19:15

    nekodovala jsem ani tak odeonem slibovanou podobnost s nabokovem nebo palahniukem (wtf?), jako spis vliv soucasne japonske prozy.. deji v podstate chybi pribeh a postavy jsou sebestredni kokoti, se kterymi se moc neda sympatizovat.. taky proto, ze hlavni hrdina vykazuje spoustu stycnych bodu s christianem greyem, coz se ukazuje byt jako instantni recept na uspech.. i tak mi ale porad prijde smutny, ze aby byl muz v ocich zen idealem, musi mit prachy, neustale stojiciho ptaka, ego a aroganci na urovni vaclava klause a poradne rozjete psychozy..vnitrni bohyne vedmy (a udajne spisovatelky - nikdy se tomu neprestanu smat) lauerove by zrejme tancila na jejim venusine pahorku, me ale radoby sokujici absence cehokoliv hlubsiho (snad krome tech prokletych figurek) a radoby sokujici popisky odosobnene sexuality (ve svete internetoveho porna zdarma je fakt tezke sokovat sexem bez lasky), proste moc obranu autorky se ale knizka cetla pomerne sama, kdyz se clovek konecne zorientoval v te transce.. co me ale opravdu zulo z bot je dodatek na konci, ktery je v podstate studii one novely.. pokud je potreba davat do knizek vysvetlivky ve smyslu "jak to ten autor vlastne myslel", pak je tutove neco spatne..

  • Sarah
    2019-02-15 16:21

    The truth.Oh God, the truth...Anyway, meet my new favorite author.

  • John Pistelli
    2019-01-18 18:35

    Rikki Ducornet's Netsuke is a short novel, an impressionistic piece of eroticism, experimental and lyrical rather than realist and story-driven . Its narrator is a 64-year-old psychoanalyst on his third marriage, to a Japanese collage artist named Akiko. But the psychoanalyst obsessively sleeps with other people, from random strangers he meets in the park to his own patients. Like a Shakespearean drama, the novel begins just as his decline begins. (I'm not one for "craft"-based writing advice—writing fiction should be like setting out on a journey without a map, not like making a desk chair—but "begin the text at the latest possible point in the story" really is a sound recommendation.) In an italicized third-person prologue, the psychoanalyst, out for a run in the park, ends up fucking another jogger in the bushes. Then, in the shower (his endless showering is one of the novel's motifs), he reflects:He considers the nature of women. The daisies of the field, so fuckable, so breakable. The ones who call out Hey! and stamp their feet in irritation, like mares. The ones who blossom early, only to succumb to nerves. Those who startle easily and sour in an instant; love with them is like sucking lemons. The lazy, careless women in need of pedicures, who, when darkness falls, can be seen lolling about, unkempt, in tapas bars. The aging actresses, their sweet vulnerabilities on parade. Incandescent alcoholics as troublesome as fever dreams, fantastic in the early hours of the evening, but only then. The chameleons. The gorgeous exotics prone to outbursts of temper. The luscious North Africans, their balaclava pussies. The antelope who cannot settle down—a good fuck on an airplane, taxicab, the train. The new mistresses one fucks before sitting down to dinner with one's wife. The women who give courage (these are rare). The wild ones with magenta manes who wear boots in all seasons. The whore who brought down Enkidu, who showed him the things a woman knows how to do. The tribal types who like sex in clusters. The women who, at Christmas, consider suicide. The frisky ones. The ones who talk too much. The ones who kill with silence. The risk takers. The ones with Big Ideas. The death cunts who kill with a look. The tender ones, the Feyaways, like islands, who love in cautious isolation, who rub one's feet; they have juicers. One abandons them judiciously, all the while cooing like a dove. The clients whom one fucks in the name of a Unique Experiment. The wives whom one betrays, extravagantly. The current wife: Akiko. The one for whom the interstices were superseded, if only briefly, by the Real. Akiko. Whose beauty no longer troubles his sleep. (His world is mazed with counts and he has not yearned for her in centuries.)An old Prince of Darkness—this is what he has become. His teeth worn to the gums, his tongue swollen with overuse, his cock, like his heart, close to breaking. (italics in original)This quotation alone give us three pieces of evidence that this is experimental fiction, concerned less with verisimilitude or didacticism than with language and emotion (with "the truth of the human heart," as Hawthorne put it in one of American literature's early manifestoes for a non-realist literature):1. Ducornet's willingness to extend sympathy and give voice to forms of desire and states of mind considered socially suspect or unacceptable—and not only by the forces of school-board suburban conservatism, but also by the moral technocrats of the liberal left, against whom Ducornet, an aesthetic anarchist, has been severe in her judgments, uncompromisingly labelling them "Pol Pot persons." For more on the politics of Ducornet's fiction, see my essay on Gazelle. Netsuke allows its characters to render judgment on each other, but it provides no perspective from which the author or some social stand-in for the author judges them. 2. Ducornet's pleasure in language for its own sake, as an object of literary fascination. This list of women is interesting as a list, as an arrangement of sounds and of mental images corresponding to those sounds. Ducornet also allows language to push emotion in contradictory directions, risking the ridiculous for the sake of complexity and resonance and, yes, a saving note of play: "They have juicers," "mazed with cunts," "his cock, like his heart, close to breaking."3. Ducornet's invocation of religious and mythical correlates for her characters (here, Enkidu and Satan), putting her fictional figures above and below the mundane realm, as representatives not just of social types (as in a realist novel) but of archetypes standing in for various human drives. In keeping with its brevity and heightened language, Netsuke explores emotional and psychological states in a miniaturized and aestheticized world, both delicate and grotesque, for which the title objects (netsuke) serve as organizing symbol. In fact, Netsuke is perhaps less the name of a symbol within the novel than an announcement of the novel's artistic mode.The netsuke in the novel are a gift from Akiko to the narrator, to decorate the office in which he, unbeknownst to her, fucks his patients. Akiko is an artist who organizes every aspect of her life according to beauty, while the narrator declares himself uninterested in aesthetics and seeks instead the delirium of subjective dissolution in high-risk and unethical sexual activity.Why does the narrator have this erotic death wish? What separates him from such venerable literary figures as Gustav von Aschenbach, Humbert Humbert, or Mickey Sabbath? In a few brief scenes, Ducornet sketches an amazingly insightful origin for the narrator's doomed quest. It appears that the narrator has never gotten over an experience most men endure at some point, an experience rarely discussed because it fits few social agendas: their exile from the world of women in which they spend the years from zero to about six. In early childhood, the narrator mistakes the phrase "the land of milk and honey" for the name of a real place, perhaps with cookies, and begs his mother and aunt to go there. For a joke, they take him to department store:The thrilling rotating doors. Their highly polished brass. And everywhere the smell of women. A rich perfume almost overwhelming. I may have sneezed. The smell of powder so rare these days and perfumes rosier than now. Far sweeter, far too redolent of mothers and their sisters and friends and yet intoxicating—as was Loll's invisible bosom, weighty as a watermelon.There we were. It was a palace devoted to women's clothing. Not a cookie in sight. Only the infinite air, a female ocean. My mother brayed: Look at his stupid face!—her laughter bouncing off the countertops like spheres of glass. It was a lesson, one of many. In this way I was trained to despise all my dreams.Eventually, the narrator meets his ultimate lover, a man named David Swancourt, also known as a woman named Jello. (Ducornet, with whatever psychological aptness, seems to portray David/Jello not as a transgender woman—i. e., an integral self with a gender identity that may not align with social identity—but as a man with multiple personalities, a male self and a female self in one body.) David too is a sensitive and fragile psyche seeking a feminine interior for himself ("Lovely Anna Morphosis," "A woman coiled within a man the way a cock coils upon itself within a pair of silk panties"). The novel thus suggests that male sexual obsession and predation is both a revenge on femininity for being unattainable and a desperate attempt to return to the source of the feminine self in every man—as the narrator puts it, he "take[s] his war back to the womb."In Akiko's collage, a triptych showing Hell, Paradise, and Limbo, a blindfolded Eve in the center of the image is offered fruit by her husband, the Minotaur. In this conflation of myths, domestic man is recast as devil/monster getting us expelled from the garden by desecrating the feminine of whom he is also the prison-keeper. What in the feminine does the man both hate and need?Her Minotaur's sex is scandalously large, gorged with blood, striking Eve's thigh. His balls, dark as plums, quiver beneath. If Eve is aroused, creamy, her sex is folded into itself, hidden. Only the cleft, like the mark on a plum, is visible.The vulvic involutions that manifest hiddenness: the ability to be and to be hidden, to show forth and to conceal. An image of the aesthetic, the aesthetic, which the narrator disclaims any interest in, pledging his allegiance to its opposite in the practices of men, including psychoanalysis and religion:The infant…will become a hoodlum, a maniac, a soldier; he will become a priest, a prison guard, a cop. A dogmatist, a patriarch—decidedly a public danger. He will become a psychoanalyst. He will have a Practice.To the extent the novel itself contains (i. e., minotaur-mazes) this monster, who is only a latent possibility of the human male, within the boundaries of the aesthetic—a Japanese aesthetic at that—it may be read as Akiko's revenge, the woman's and non-westerner's revenge, at the level of form, for the narrator's ugly but socially-sanctioned transgressions.One criticism. I am puzzled by the quantity of cliche in Netsuke's language. I am not even a "war against cliche" person; I think original language can be sacrificed to other virtues—plainness, speed, verisimilitude—in many literary contexts, and I don't admire the type of criticism that attempts to dispense with whole novels by pointing to a few solecisms or infelicities. But in a novel this short, with language this stylized, it is startling to read such phrases as the following on page after page:They keep me on my toes.They like it down and dirty.Her sex was like a beacon at the end of a tunnel…She has a temper hot enough to fry an egg.…a life lived leaping from one frying pan into another.He likes what he sees in the mirror. He can pull this off.Both of them clinging like glue.…fucking like beasts on the floor.It's a risky business.Maybe each cliche, like "the land of milk and honey," contains an embedded utopia to which Ducornet is trying to draw our attention, sometimes by slightly altering the cliche or using it in an unfamiliar context; or perhaps Ducornet is intimating that Akiko, for whom English is a second language, is really our narrator, trying out her facility with the American idiom (lending credence to this idea, the narrative does occasionally enter the third person and proceed from the viewpoints of characters other than the main narrator); but if so, this is one experiment that seems to me to fail. There is moreover a whole character—Kat, called "the Cutter" by the narrator due to her pathology—who seems to be a cliche; even if she wanted to do something new with the paradoxically eroticized figure of self-harming female fragility, Ducornet does not spend enough time with Kat to accomplish it. (Also, the narrator and the Cutter watch snuff films—plural—together, whereas I thought snuff films were an urban legend.) All in all, I know the novel is the husband's story, but I would have liked to hear more about Akiko: she is the novel's most interesting, if not most extreme, character.Those complaints aside, Netsuke succeeds as a charged miniature of desire gone awry, desire that, even after the marginalization of marriage, attests to the complications—evocable only in language answeringly oblique—of desire.

  • Klara
    2019-02-16 20:22

    What a beautifully written book! I was listening to Michael Silverblatt interviewing Rikki Ducornet on Bookworm. I fell in love with her. Color of her voice is clear and agreeably poetic, and so is the way she articulates her thoughts. Thence I read Netsuke. This book plunges into the human psyche with a confidence of a keen observer. And, as the gleefully enlightened might suspect -- on few and far between exemplary occasions -- the human psyche can be pretty screwed up. Which RD seems to know plenty about ...Imagine a husband who is a doctor. A two-timing husband. A double-lifting doctor who takes the most undoctored interest in his patients. If that were not bad enough, imagine he is a shrink. So patients come to him for help. They are screwed up, emotionally unstable. They are vulnerable. If that were not bad enough, he too, the doctor, is screwed up: emotionally unstable, vulnerable. And obstinate! He tells them they can trust him. He tells them he loves them. They get screwed up.AKIKO: his wife. She has double "k" in her name just like RD. She is a saint. Perfect in her Japanese way. Obviously, he hates her for it, ought to bring her down with him. So he swaggers a clue-dropping kabuki dance pointing to his infidelities. She turns a blind eye but her smile recedes into a despondent scowl. A wordless marriage. Dissolving.I gave the book three stars as I really enjoyed reading it despite the fact it does not offer any plausible introspection into his motives. There is a reference to his cruel mother who snarly denies the "land of milk and honey" to him as a child -- but thats about it. Needless to say I did not care as the book has a beautiful linguistic form and the form becomes the message. Strongly recommend to anyone with hopeless appreciation for a beauty of a language ...

  • Liz
    2019-02-08 22:21

    Reminiscent of Nabokov’s Despair, Netsuke is a tale of one man’s unhappiness spurred by mental illness and a lifetime of alienation. The novel is divided into two parts. In Part 1, we are introduced to the unnamed narrator, a self-destructive psychoanalyst who keeps the reader at a distance while he dispassionately seduces his patients. He strives to keep each affair hidden, not only from his wife, Akiko, but also each of his lover-patients. This rather unhealthy behavior forms an analogy that explains the title of the piece. Netsuke are miniature sculptures made of various materials which one might display in a multi-compartment display shelf. It’s this analogy that ultimately describes how the narrator compartmentalizes each relationship, keeping each unaware of the others, just like a single netsuke is surrounded by similar pieces in a multi-compartment display shelf. Only as we progress into the story do we discover the narrator’s deep sense of unhappiness in life, a feeling which stems from a loveless childhood that drives him to seek sexual fulfillment from strangers. A curious tale, worth at least a single read for those interested in psychological fiction.