Monday, November 23, 2015

Monologue of a Universal Transverse Mercator Projection from HANZAI, Japan

"Monologue of a Universal Transverse Mercator Projection" by Yumeaki Hirayama from Hanzai Japan

hanzai japan 

reviewed by Patti Abbott

Yumeaki Hirayama’s debut as a novelist came in 1996 with the psycho-thriller Sinker—shizumu mono (Sinker). In 2006 he won the Mystery Writers of Japan Award for Short Stories with Dokuhaku suru yunibasaru yoko merukatoru (The Universal Transverse Mercator Speaks), and his collection of the same title took first place in the 2007 Konomys rankings. He won the Japan Adventure Fiction Association Prize in 2009, and the Haruhiko Oyabu Award in 2011, for his noir novel Diner, set in a restaurant where professional hit men gather. Among his other works is the 2011 story collection An Outsider’s Death (original English title).
Hirayama’s story in HANZAI JAPAN, “Monologue of a Universal Transverse Mercator Projection” looks to be related to his prize -winning collection. The anthology’s goal was to collect stories that managed to be both speculative and crime-oriented. The introduction advises us that Japanese crime writers enjoyed subverting the genre from the earliest days. And the combination here makes the likelihood even greater. The use of the supernatural adds some nice seasoning to crime stories. And the story of a crime can provide a fulcrum to science fiction.
In this story, the protagonist is a map. Though given the nature of the collection you might expect this to be a futuristic global navigation system, instead it is an ordinary paper map. Ordinary in appearance, that is. But this map has the ability through inner maps to provide supernatural guidance for its owner, a taxi driver. It can rearrange itself to provide a route to suit a need. This anthromorphized map functions as a sidekick.
Crime enters the tale when the taxi driver begins murdering then hiding the bodies of female passengers. The map makes himself an accomplice by finding burial sites that will go undetected. When the master (as the map calls him) dies, the story only grows more complex.
It is impossible not to admire this story. The abilities of the map have been laid out with great imagination and care. The consistency of the idea is thrilling. The murders take place off screen and are of much less interest than the relationship that exists between the map and the taxi driver(s). Highly recommended for fans of superb writing.

For more reviews from HANZAI, JAPAN, go to SPINETINGLER MAGAZINE 

What anthology has worked for you of late? 


Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I've been reading mostly single author collections lately, but the latest anthology was CAPITAL CRIMES: London Mysteries, edited by Martin Edwards. The stories range from Conan Doyle to the Golden Age for the most part.

George said...

I just found a copy of THE DODD, MEAD GALLERY OF HORROR edited by Charles Grant from 1983 at a Library Book Sale. They just don't publish books like this anymore.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Our library book sales are great but they rarely have older books-even 1983-would be a find. If you want 25 copies of GONE GIRL you came to the right place though.

Charles Gramlich said...

I should expand my reading more

R.T. said...

I came to it belatedly (i.e., the ARC was sitting on my shelf collecting dust), but my recently discovered new favorite anthology is Sarah Weinman's _Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives_, which I recommend to anyone keen on women's crime writing (and I suspect your many followers share that passion, Patti). All the best from R.T. at The Simple Art of Murder.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

One more that I downloaded from the library onto the Kindle:

Denise Hamilton, ed., LOS ANGELES NOIR 2: THE CLASSICS. Now this is a lineup: Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, Paul Cain, Leigh Brackett, Ross Macdonald, Margaret Millar, Chester Himes, James Ellroy, Walter Mosley, William Campbell Gault, among others.

Margot Kinberg said...

Sounds like a very different sort of book to what I usually read, Patti, but it does sound interesting.