Autofiction Review

Autofiction - Hitomi Kanehara

Have you ever read a book and liked it but not known exactly why you like it? That’s kinda where I’m at with Hitomi Kanehara’s Autofiction, which sits on my shelf in between Ryu Murakami and Natsuo Kirino. Not because Kanehara is a Japanese author, but because I have nowhere else to put it. It doesn’t fit anywhere else.

Autofiction is one of the strangest books I’ve read that doesn’t have a surrealistic or supernatural something going. There’s some confusion as to whether or not Rin, our narrator, is batshit crazy, or if she’s just playing a part in order to create a fictional autobiography worthy of publication. Autofiction, by definition, means fictional autobiography, so I’m going to go with the Russian nesting doll theory. Here we have Kanehara writing a fictional autobiography about a woman who’s writing a fictional autobiography. Confused? No? Good. We shall proceed.

(If you are confused, shit, I don’t know what to tell you. This is the best I can do, so have a coke and smile, sit down and shut the fuck up. There’s less confusing shit coming up.)

I mainly had a blast piecing together this puzzle because Rin’s head is an awesome place to be. She’s a fucking hoot, always talking to her vagina and shit. Grade-A hilarity was achieved during certain sections, especially when she’s calling her own nu-nu a “needy cunt” while in the process of getting some o’ that good-good. There was a time or two where I had to pause and blame some things I read as being lost in translation. The believe the narrator confused “orgy” with the word “rape”. At least I hope that was the case. Let me explain.

There are two sections in which groups of men walk off with females thrown over their shoulders with the intent of “raping” them. That’s how our narrator Rin thinks of it, anyway. But the girls seem to be into it. At the very least they seem to be getting paid to fuck these men. Which caused much confusion inside this reader’s head. I mean, are we talking about these guys forcing themselves on these girls, or are they willing participants? Is this one of those freaky-deaky fake-rape parties? Did I miss the bus completely and read something horribly wrong? I don’t know, kids, but I had all the confusion. Head scratching was most definitely going on during these “rape” scenes. Well, I shouldn’t say “rape” scenes, because there was no on-screen rape. Had there been rape, I would have said to myself, “Self, that there is some rape. There is nothing pleasurable about that, because that shit right there, is rape. Ya dig?”

I know I’m making this book sound rape-ier than a Michael Jackson sleepover, but it’s really not. There is quite a bit of sexy times, moreso than I suspected there would be. And considering we’re in the head of an insane person, the bumpity-bump is a fantastically hilarious read.

Unfortunately, Autofiction is only available in paperback, and the copy I purchased came all the way from Japan. It’s the UK edition, but it still came from a bookseller in Tokyo. To my knowledge, there is no US version. Anyway, if you ever get a chance to lay hands on this weird little book, buy it. I spent eight bucks on a 216 page paperback and I don’t feel a bit cheated.

In summation: If you enjoy being inside of a crazy person’s head, this is the book for you. It’s funny, quirky, and at times dark, but it is never boring. If you can find it, read it up. Recommended, for sure.

Final Judgment: Big fun in a little package.



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