Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Territory of Light - The Earth's Surface

Publication day for Territory of Light is not too far away and it seems strange to contemplate how time has passed since starting out with the first chapter of this novel, which is translated by Geraldine Harcourt, again massive thanks go to Penguin for sharing the chapters with me, it's been very interesting to read the novel in these monthly installments and it'll be of further interest to sit down with the novel and read through as a single entirety. After a little break of not reading February's chapter - Flames arrived and before starting out on January's - The Earth's Surface I caught the opening lines of Flames describing picking her daughter up from daycare, it's strange again how just a glimpse of a line can transport you back into the character's world and dilemmas, and the picture of her world begins to take shape again, of the apartment a few floors up, the breeze in the curtains, the light escaping in, the balance of job, the separation, the daycare, the repetition perhaps of these things.

The Earth's Surface starts with the narrator alone on a random, perhaps impulsive train trip, another woman slumped against her and of sleeping on trains provokes memories of her parents and of her father's death, not knowing him, as he passed away just after she was born, dreamscapes are described of seeing him or of his presence although of never seeing his face. The narrative comes back around again to familiar things and characters, Sugiyama ceasing to call around for his Sunday visits is a source of consternation, also of her daughter developing fits and tantrums, a fact she doesn't want Fujino to discover fearing perhaps that it'll be used against her as an example of her bad parenting. This slight estrangement from her daughter begins to deepen when her daughter stays overnight with a friend and she slips into their family life with alarming ease, she learns that her daughter is calling the father of the family daddy, and one Sunday she refuses to come home at the appointed time, causing the narrator embarrassment as she has to ask if it's ok for her daughter to stay longer. 

The narrative loops back to it's opening with her taking the train trip, and she phones Sugiyama with the suggestion for him to move in with them to simultaneously solve the problem of him still living with his parents but he rather bluntly rejects the idea, perhaps wary of what he maybe getting himself into. Arriving at a seaside town she phones her daughter at her friends and describes the harbour, the glimmering of the water, a pink ship, and suggests they'll visit it together one day, envisioning her daughter on the other end of the line holding the receiver with her hands, the image freeze frames and overlaps with her vision of the sea in a resonant and poignant finish.     

Territory of Light at Penguin Classics

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