By Osamu Dazai
“We all looked forward to this month’s book and book club more than usual – Kelly’s niece, Samantha, chose the book and described it to her aunt as one of her favourite. More than that, she would attend the book club night in person to tell us all why. Only those who had to miss the night because of work didn’t show up. Everyone else filtered in and after normal arrival chatter, we took our places and slowly quieted to sit and stare at Samantha…
Most of us were dreadfully curious to know why No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai was one of her favourites. Some of us liked Dazai’s writing style and sentence structure. Some hated the longer chapter, three notebook format. “He’s a snivelling whimp.” “A spoiled intelligentsia.” “No, he would be diagnosed as autistic in today’s times.” All of us recalled moments of feeling like social outcasts. But not one of us identified with the unrelenting alienation described by Dazai and experienced by him through Yozo, his main character.
But then again, none of us experienced life in post-war Japan, when the tensions between traditional Japan and modernity, between rural and urban lives, peaked and plummeted. No matter what our individual “notebooks” read, what tragedies they contained, we each have a fourth notebook and more to come.
Samantha has her notebooks too. And her’s so far, is a life of love for the art of the book. Her fascination with Dazai arose from a character with the same name. The sentences were well written, says Samantha, and in line with other Japanese verse. No Longer Human is one in a very high pile of books, some classics, in a grade nine’s room on a bedside table.
Personally, I admire Samantha and her appreciation for literature. I admire her maturity and courage to love art and the slow, printed word and I’m thankful for her choice of book. We expect great things from you Miss Samantha!”
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