The Face of Another
via The Face of Another (1966)

Vulgarian Book Pick | January 2018

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NEW YEAR, NEW YOU! And what better way to celebrate new beginnings than with our January 2018 Vulgarian Book Club selection The Face of Another (1964) by Kōbō Abe? After all, you’ve tried the gym. You’ve tried the diet. And, to be honest, you’re still ugly as hell.

So, your final recourse: a complete face swap.

If you have no idea what we’re getting at here, read this:

Published in 1964, The Face of Another follows a scientist (the story’s narrator) who, after hideously disfiguring his face in an accident, obtains a life-like mask to cover his deformity, changing not only how others perceive him but how he perceives himself. Simultaneously, the story follows a hibakushaLiterally translating to “explosion-affected people,” hibakusha is the Japanese word for the surviving victims of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. woman, a character in a film watched by the narrator.

Sounds like the perfect start to a new, perfect year.

Why The Face of Another?

Or the better question: Why not The Woman in the Dunes (1962), Kōbō Abe’s first internationally successful novel and what’s generally regarded as his masterpiece?

Reason #1 – The Face of Another‘s themes of identity and (dis)continuity seem somewhat less depressing for New Year’s than The Woman in the Dunes‘ “time will kill us all anyways” vibe.

Reason #2 – Video game designer and Kōbō Abe fan Hideo Kojima inadvertently ranked The Face of Another higher than The Woman in the Dune in a 2016 tweet.

Frankly, we’ll likely read The Woman in the Dunes as well, in addition to watching the Hiroshi Teshigahara films adapted from Abe’s books. Not that you’re required to do the same; however, feel free to veer towards other Abe-related topics during Vulgarian Book Club chats throughout the month.

How to Participate in the Vulgarian Book Club

You can participate in the Vulgarian Book Club in a number of ways, including:

  • Posting your thoughts, opinions, commentary, questions, etc. in the Aviary.
  • Sending a video of your personal book review to the Aviary.
    • (Upload the video to a separate host — e.g., YouTube, Facebook, etc. — then post the link.)
  • Submitting a written review to americanvulgaria@gmail.com to be published on this website.
    • (Include your name, a short bio, and a link to where we can find more of your work.)
    • (Minimum length requirement: 500 words.)
    • (Also, doesn’t need to be a quote-unquote “review”; informal essays are just fine.)
  • Joining our Patreon exclusive Discord channel (The Aviary 2.0) for more direct chits and chats with the American Vulgaria editor and other fellow Discord members. (Patreon link here.)

As our Patreon community grows, we’ll begin shooting monthly Vulgarian Book Club wrap-up videos, splicing in segments of your discussion contributions — posts, videos, reviews, etc. — into the video (unless advised otherwise). Additionally, Patreon members will be able to vote on future Vulgarian Book Club selections and other community events.

Soon enough, this book club will make all of us smart and stuff, or something — after which, the discussions will only get better and better.

Looking forward to it, friends.


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