Sunday, 31 August 2008

Veggie Books - Tokyo

Mo Hayder's Tokyo is not a book about vegetables. Only one vegetable makes an appearance in the whole novel:

'Food arrived on the table: slabs of tuna piled like dominoes on beds of nettle; bowls of walnut tofu sprinkled with seaweed; grated radish, crunchy as salt. Bison sat immobilised, staring down at his plate of yakitori chicken, as if it posed a huge problem, his face pale and sweaty, as if he might be sick. I watched him in silence, thinking of how he'd been last time at the club, his expression of amazement, the way he'd been transfixed by the residue on the sides of Fuyuki's glass. Just like Strawberry, I thought. He doesn't want to eat the meat. He's heard the same stories she has...'

This is a book about meat.

It's one of those thrillers that has an absolute through-line of action. Every event builds to the next. The sequences set in the past dovetail with the discoveries being made in the present. It's all so logical in process that it becomes easier to swallow (sorry) the horrors being unveiled, such as the massacre of Nanking and the darkest deeds in modern Japan.

Life isn't like that, of course. One thing never leads to another. But I do have admiration for novelists who can condense in that way, so that readers are immersed in the purest form of entertainment: the thrill of the chase, whether that's to the eventual discovery, or running away from the demons that follow. Tokyo has both of those thrills.

But just the one radish.

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