10 thoughts on “Netsuke – Rikki Ducornet

  1. So that I can concentrate on other aspects of this novel and also avoid plot spoilers by myself describing its plot, here is the cover description of the book by the book itself, as if you had picked it up in a bookshop to see if you wanted to read it…


    Page 1 – 9

    “His days are made up of what he calls ‘real time’ and the ‘interstices.’”

    We follow in the italics of real time his jog or run and the chance encounter with interstitial sex, inter-text, including lathering his own interstices, no doubt, in the shower. Running to the music of Monteverdi, here Monteverde.
    His wife Akiko, his practice as a shrink, he thinks about, and we sense his not too serious guilt, even a delight at such brinkmanship, an acquired guilt at his own behaviour with patients and strangers. As if everyone is miniaturised, I wonder? Shrunk? Thinking aloud, so far. There are far more details to his first person narration following the third person italics than I can cover here.


    As an aside, I note that there is a comment about this book by William H. Gass on its cover. My previous reviews of Gass (who seemed to have written, I discovered, in his 1960s novel ‘Omensetter’s Luck’, about a kindred spirit of Donald Trump!)

  2. 63C99039-0700-43CB-BE2F-4A892217400B

    Pages 10 – 22

    “I made it clear that our time together was possible only because of an unusual synchronicity.”

    The shrunk aspect of our ‘hero’ shrink is reflected in his two places known as ‘cabinets’ where he treats his patients, out of sight of the main house where Akiko does her artistic work. But this aspect is contrasted by the “large book” where he is ordering his notes and own reflections – and by Akiko’s collages “the size of doors.” Her new triptych, included. Marriage that is a fire in a world where everywhere is burning. Psycho-lust as therapy or risk management. He has a wench worthy of Wycherley, and did that wench break Akiko’s shell? The cad that dwells within, and he has men, too, it seems. Time to sink or swim or, rather, shrink or swell. There is much to captivate the reader dangerously here, I sense. Therapist, meanwhile, is one word, not two.

  3. Pages 23 – 37

    “Gazing out the picture window at one of Akiko’s impeccable vistas,…”

    Part way through, ‘I’ temporarily becomes ‘he’, as if someone else was suddenly turning his synaesthesia into sin-aesthesia. That psycho-lust as therapy. Revealing from under clothes shaven parts, “simultaneously glamorous and spare”, towards some pointillist rapture. A series of moments to become his need for a singular ‘edge’. A new ‘cabinet’ in town to house his more aberrant consultations with patients, away from the countrified marital home. With its own inner cabinets to house ‘netsuke’ etc, with the well-hidden collusion of Akiko? Null immoralist. Null immortalis. “…transforming it into something else, perhaps immortal, cell by cell.” And what about his childhood’s Land of Milk and Honey as an ignition towards a view of feminine plenitude? And a particular legend of an Eskimo, an image so perfect that, to describe it here, would be my own sin-aesthetic spoiler for you. To open you up. To scythe back bushes.

  4. Pages 38 – 53

    “Never have I been so taken by a creature.”

    Now we meet the creature Cutter, surely a sexually engulfing character from literature you will never forget. Potentially more engulfing than even Sarah Hall’s Evie that I read only a few days ago (reviewed here).
    “: how infinite the choreography of erotic encounter!” The Cutter who provides more edginess than the most precarious or precious edge. Threatening discovery by noise. Risking Akiko, for our hero, alongside the creature’s contrast with the cabinets and netsuke and interstices and the “world of novelties and embalmers, anesthesiologists and escalators. The world of paper, paste, and cocktail hours.” A tripswitch beyond triptych. The series of anamorphoses and their cylindrical mirrors, notwithstanding. This book’s POVs, too, authorial and narrative.

  5. Pages 54 – 67

    “Or in a risky part of town where I have engaged, if briefly, with marginalia. To be healthy one needs to bring the disparate parts of one’s puzzle together…”

    It is a risk reading this book, this review, too, as I question whether it, the book, is an apotheosis of literature depicting a man taking unnecessary risks to further excite his affairs, while assuring himself that his still deceived wife is the constant he truly cherishes, as if that assurance absolves his behaviour. “Me, too. But Akiko.” Whatever the case we learn that Akiko has a “beloved carp pond.” But is it tench? I ask. We learn, too — regarding a man called Swancourt with whom our hero consorts — that he calls him, this Swancourt, a “carp” and “curious fish!” We also learn of firefly sex in interface with the netsuke cabinet… “I have considered developing a cosmology of this ruinous eroticism.”

  6. Pages 68 – 83

    “She has become watchful, strange. She finds a fish, one of her favorites, floating belly up.”

    Akiko and our hero begin not to synchronise their moments of sexual appetite, as if splinters are being gathered and needles to extract them become needless or clumsy?

    “The world they share is seriously shrinking.”

    The rhapsodic, rapturous moment with Swancourt, meanwhile, is a more significant revelation. Like being invited into this book by the front cover’s door and turning the corner to find Swancourt. Eroticism takes on a new amorphous meaning in this book, one yet to be pinpointed. I hope its prick is never pinpointed.
    Our hero’s memory of his father’s dictum as to the wearing of nice fashionable clothes that makes later nakedness more effective; it sounds like something from Swann’s Way if not the petit Madeline cake of this book, a cake, if it were in the book at all, that would be part of eroticism itself…Let’s hope it was not left out in the rain.

    https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2010/may/29/edmund-waal-hare-amber-netsuke – an article about collecting netsuke and Charles Ephrussi who was the model for Swann in Proust.

  7. Pages 84 – 94

    “Now am I your lover or your sister?”

    Swancourt, aka Jello, almost or truly wants to be ‘fucked to oblivion’. There is also something, in its sexurious context, erotic about our hero testing, in front of Akiko, a fat fountain pen in a pen shop, the ultimate objective-correlative for this book’s own pen needing to piss or to transfuck. Somehow, the book makes such things needing saying, even (or especially?) in a review of it. 6D7C2457-5B34-4533-9328-F2BBBE889996This reviewer prefers not to become collusive with the book. But, after what I gratuitously wrote in the previous entry about the Proustian cake, can you believe there is such a cake as a Jello cake? One is shown alongside. And with Akiko set to make a ‘tagine’ at the end of this set of pages, can you believe there is also a ‘tagine cake’: https://www.bosh.tv/recipes/tagine-cake

  8. Pages 95 – 111

    “; how the world breaks apart only to reawaken, and demons cling for their lives to every star.”

    Time seems to accelerate, as our hero’s sexual emotions ebb and flow, with Akiko, with Jello, and with chance meetings, his memories of his parents who were ever in the bathroom, while Akiko’s “porcelain dolls” are in the netsuke cabinet, her fish in the carp pond now corpses, her triptych reworked an with Adam and Eve now part of this book’s oblivious fucking syndrome. Engorged prose. The Gestalt about to collapse, rather than to be gathered as I usually do at the endgames of my book reviews, our hero’s risk and danger about to be consummated, I sense.

  9. Pages 112 – 127

    2DE0DDE5-89D0-4C77-9770-CE421875D721“Write me a fucking book!”

    The pen is full of ink, after all. But the centre does not hold. The Gestalt is beyond me. A triptych of Drear, Spells and New Spells. My most strikingly failed real-time review. It needed something special to reduce the will of my own preternatural dreamcatching. The Cutter “needled after it”. Jello and Swancourt separately betrayed by their co-shrink. Other patients, too, in sudden realisation. Striking scene, indeed, of Jello/Swancourt in discrete if not schizoid recrimination. Another car crash of once reconciled polarities. Our hero, then, never was our hero after all. Akiko within the “silence of the wood” that now displays him.

    “, penetrated to the marrow, rubbed into oblivion, yes: rubbed out. No: made visible.”


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