Friday, October 17, 2008

We have all heard the expression “less is more” and in the story of Canaries by Ysaunari Kawabata from the book, “Palm-of-the-Hand Stories”, he does just this. In forty-two lines he tells the sad story of a man writing a final goodbye letter to his lover. She had purchased a set of canaries for him which his late wife had taken care of until she died. I saw that there was not much depth to the characters but I found that what I thought was a flaw turned out to give the story a venire; a sense of mystery. Questions are brought up like, why was there an affair in the first place? Did the wife die of a broken heart? Why did the man address his lover as “Madam” instead of her name? The list is endless. I do not know if this was intentional of Kawabata but that is where the story is given depth. One of the major ideas in the story is the fact that the man writes “the shopkeeper simply caught a male and female at random and put them in a cage.” suggesting that their relationship had become nothing more than two strangers caged together. This is yet another unanswered idea that Kawabata leaves the reader to draw their own conclusions.
This is extremely different from the story Blow-Up by Julio Cortazar. From the very beginning, he over indulges the reader with endless thoughts about his characters and never misses a chance to “fill in the blanks”. It is a story about a man who thinks he took a picture of a young boy, in the park, about to have sex for the first time with a hooker. He becomes so captivated by the photo that he makes an enlargement (a blow-up). He keeps expanding it until he notices a man in the background of the photo and comes to realize his original thought was completely misled. This was a story that took awhile to get going yet Cortazar is able to paint a beautiful picture of the park where the photographer was sitting. His over indulging of language was able to fully enrich the story but at the same time it did not leave any sense of mystery for the reader unlike Kawabata.
Both these stories are great opposites from each other. One is able to let the reader pave their own path about the story where as the other a path has already been laid with a few twists and turns in the road. I wish that these would be packaged in a set together due to their complete opposite formats. They remind me of the boxed set movie(s) “Grindhouse” - two movies, opposite cinematography. The first movie is Death Proof directed by Quentin Terintino where the main focus is the character relationships. There is very little action, which is made up by unique dialogues giving a simplicity to the movie. Contrary to this is the movie “Planet Terror” directed by Robert Rodriguez. There is nothing left out. Each scene is a feast for the eyes while not saying very much for the characters. There is obviously character development but that is not one of the main aspects to the film, the same as “Blow-Up”. There is a plot to follow which ultimately changes, yet there is not much depth to the characters. So let’s hope that Kawabata and Cortazar will release their stories together. Maybe they could call it Caged Thought.


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