Read the prologue to 'One Hundred Years of Vicissitude'
"First up, a disclaimer. I suspect I am a dead man. I have meagre proof, no framed‐ up certification, nothing to toss in a court of law as evidence of a rapid departure from the mortal coil. I recall a gun was involved, pressed up against my skull, and a loud explosion followed."
Thus begins our narrator in a purgatorial tour through twentieth-century Japanese history, with a ghostly geisha who has seen it all as a guide and a corrupt millionaire as her reluctant companion.
You can read the Prologue beneath the cover art (below). It will be published in paperback via Perfect Edge Books in October 2012.Prologue | 序幕
It’s swing time, and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers must be cooling their heels elsewhere.
In all honesty, I can’t distinguish swing from boogie-woogie—styles my grandparents would be better equipped to judge.
Though not wearing a tuxedo to match the music, I am blessed with a suave smoking jacket.
Anyhow, this jazz-inflected number continues to blare, doing seventy-eight rpm on brittle shellac, something warbled in Japanese about people having fun just by singing the zany song.
The whole package is strung together in a crackly, mono din that originates from a gramophone, housed in a lacquered wooden casket on the other side of the room.
Splayed on the floor before the music box lies a half-naked man, inert.
You’ll find me propped up on the bed. It boasts a hard, uncomfortable mattress and the quilts are awry, but who would fret, seated next to a young, exquisite geisha? Not that she doesn’t have flaws. This girl bears smudged makeup, a vivid red streak (blood) on one white cheek, and she’s wrapped in a twisted, half-open kimono that’s fallen off her shoulder. I glimpse an ample amount of small, pale breast, as I reach over to light the cigarette she has pinioned between her teeth. Eyes off, you ancient rotter.
It’s damnably humid in this small, spartan closet, and both of us are sweating. The temperature is something I doubt the fellow on the floor needs to concern himself with.
‘He’s dead?’ I pipe up, in a blustering voice that startles me.
‘As a doornail,’ the woman says, unruffled, and then she exhales a plume of smoke toward the ceiling.
‘So. What shall we do now?’
‘I have no idea about you, but I’m enjoying the song and this cigarette.’
‘You don’t mind sharing them with a man you just murdered?’
‘Well, I’d say he’s far more functional in this state.’ She places her bare feet on the corpse’s back, wriggles her toes, and then leans back to relax. There’s a smirk on her cherubic mouth.
‘That’s better. Who needs a footstool?’ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF VICISSITUDE