Saturday, March 12, 2011

Reviewed by Sin - In the Pool

By Hideo Okuda
*English translation
Amazon link

"In the Pool", by Hideo Okuda, is a collection of five stories with two things in common: The protagonists all have an unusual problem, with a relatable human core, and they are all under the care of doctor Ichiro Irabu, head of neurology. Along with his indifferent nurse, Mayumi, Doctor Irabu specializes in indulging his patient's irrational, self-destructive impulses. Whether it be compulsively swimming, or text messaging their lives away, doctor Irabu is there to tell them everything is all right.

By the second story you can see the method behind doctor Irabu's madness, while his patients are left in the dark. Seeing how each patient deals with having the most fucked up aspect of themselves encouraged, and eventually figure out why, is the brilliance behind "In the Pool." Yet, as much as you come to know each character and why they are the way they are, the "real" doctor Irabu remains a mystery. Where does the therapy end, and the person behind it begin? I just read the book, and I have no idea, yet it's impossible to dismiss doctor Irabu as crazy. He has a vision, and it comes complete with mommy issues and a pea green porsche.

It's rare that a book makes me laugh out loud, but this one did it repeatedly. It also made me feel bad for the characters, and root for the ones that got their lives together. My favorite story is the first, titled "In the Pool", about a man whose stress drives him to swim. Soon a few laps isn't enough, and it becomes impossible to balance his trips to the pool with the rest of his life. Here, and in the other stories, the journey is what's important, even when the characters don't get where they wanted to go.

Personal rating = A+

No comments: