Melody
ISBN-13: 978-0099521358
Publisher: Vintage
Published: April 2009
176 pgs
Source: Personal Library
(Translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder)




Yoko Ogawa is the author of The Housekeeper and The Professor. Though I have yet to read that book, I thought it would be better if I start off with her short stories collections and this is where I came to read The Diving Pool.

The first story, The Diving Pool is a story about a teenage girl named Aya whose parents managed an orphanage, Light House. Despite of having those foster children in her so-called house, she feels lonely and secretly yearns to be a foster child herself where she would imagine someone to adopt her and leave the place. It is not like her parents do not love her, they do but just that they could be so engrossed in their activities that they would neglect her at times. But none of these compare to her infatuation with Jun, her foster brother, as she would always secretly watch him dive and would marvel at the beauty of his body and how well he would dive into the water. Besides her obsession with Jun, she also finds distraction in tormenting an orphan toddler which at this point made me wonder if there is something mentally wrong with Aya (which unfortunately it does not turn out that way).

Jun, on the other hand, is a totally different character. He is a good yet a quiet young man. In other words, he is too good to be true. Despite I felt repulsed by Aya's behaviour and all, surprisingly I find the ending to be satisfying and that is all I have to say about it.

If I find it difficult to read the first story, the second story Pregnancy Diary is even more far-fetched and harder to fathom. A young unmarried woman is fascinated over her sister's pregnancy but instead of feeling excitement for her sister, she feels disgusted by the pregnancy progress. This story is narrated through her in a form of a diary (with records of the number of days of her sister's pregnancy), as she watches her sister's belly grown day by day and how her emotions affect hers as well. It is only when she learnt about her sister's obsession with grapefruit jam that she began to concoct a scheme to cause some harm to the foetus. I was at a loss of words after reading this story because what the narrator done has totally boggles my mind because I just could not imagine anyone would do that to a pregnant woman, let alone a family member. It just made me so sad (and not to mention horrified) to read such stories but I have to say the author has a knack of creating the suspense despite everything.

Finally, the last story Dormitory read more like a horror story but again it seems bizarre to me. A young wife revisits her old college dormitory after she has received a phone call from her cousin who wanted her help to find a dormitory for him. Despite the years, she still feels nostalgic of the days she stayed at that old dormitory, and she could still remember very well the armless, one-legged manager who runs the dormitory. As she rekindle the old times with the ailing manager, she seems to be transfixed by his story of a student who disappeared so many years ago. And as she listens to his story, she feels there is a strange force within the dormitory and thus leading her to explore more. Though this story sounds like a good creepy read, I have to say with great disappointment that the ending is not what I had expected. In other words, I was stumped and I am afraid I do not understand the ending at all.

I might not fully loved the three stories in The Diving Pool, but I have to say Yoko Ogawa's writing style is sharp and precise. She has penned a crafty and suspenseful stories which I am sure would send chills down your spine. Each story in The Diving Pool might be dark and yes, unbelievable but I think that is her intention and she has succeeded in making one ponder (at least with this reader).

Have you read The Diving Pool? What are your thoughts? Leave me a comment and I will link your review to this post.
16 Responses
  1. bermudaonion Says:

    I've got The Housekeeper and the Professor so I'm glad to see Ogawa is a good writer.


  2. Beth F Says:

    I too am glad to here Ogawa's style is good. I have The Housekeeper here waiting to be read.


  3. stacybuckeye Says:

    I read The Housekeeper and loved it. Not sure if I'd like the short stories though.


  4. naida Says:

    I havent read this one, but it sounds interesting. The one about the pregnant woman does sound disturbing.
    http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/


  5. Ceri Says:

    Ooh, I haven't read anything by this author but this sounds like something I'd like to give a go. I really love the cover too.

    Great review, Mel. (As always!)


  6. Dar Says:

    I haven't read anything by this author but just from the descriptions of these short stories I can say this wouldn't be for me.


  7. softdrink Says:

    I loved The Housekeeper and the Professor, but I'm not much of a short story reader, so I'll be skipping this one.


  8. Nymeth Says:

    Wow, these definitely so sound dark. Still, it might be a book I'd enjoy. I'll probably start with The Housekeeper and the Professor, though.


  9. Alice Teh Says:

    Thanks for the review, Melody. I'm not big on short stories but if I want to read some, I'd give Yoko Ogawa a try. :D


  10. Julia Says:

    WOW this book sounded very uncomfortable and dark to read. But I'm interested to know what happen from 2nd story. Great review. :)


  11. Melody Says:

    Kathy, Beth - I can't wait to read The Housekeeper and the Professor as I've read nothing but glowing reviews on it.

    Stacy - I'm glad you enjoyed The Housekeeper and the Professor. I hope you'll give her short stories a try!

    Naida - It's interesting and intriguing! I was speechless after reading the second story... just don't know what to think of it.

    Ceri - I'm glad to hear you'll give this book a try! And yes, the book cover is gorgeous! :)

    Dar - Some books aren't meant for all readers and this book is just one of those.

    Jill - I've to admit I don't read a lot of short stories but I'll read them if their premises sound interesting.

    Nymeth - I can't wait to hear what you'll think of these books!

    Alice - I hope you'll enjoy reading Yoko Ogawa's books when you get to it!

    Julia - These stories might seem dark, but I've to admire the author's imaginations. Let me know if you're keen to find out the ending to the second story and I'll email you.


  12. Veens Says:

    I am huge fan of this genre and you definitely have made me to put this in my wishlist!!!
    I so want this one :):)

    Great review as always Melody!


  13. Debi Says:

    While I could definitely tell these weren't your favorite stories on earth, and while they definitely sound disturbing, I think I might actually like to read this. Thanks, Melody!


  14. violetcrush Says:

    The stories do sound weird but I do want to read something by this author. Good to know the writing style is good.


  15. Melody Says:

    Veens, Debi & Violet - Thanks, ladies! I hope you'll enjoy this book, and I can't wait to hear what you'll think of it when you get to it. :)


  16. The Bumbles Says:

    I just finished The Housekeeper & The Professor - sounds vastly different than her short story collection - thanks for the review, I had no idea The Diving Pool was short stories. It is impressive to read how versatile she can be in her craft. The Housekeeper was a very sweet tale full of love and loyalty.