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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Kubo Misumi

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To purchase Mikumari

Title: Mikumari
Author: Kubo Misumi
Genre: Novel
Written: 2009 (Eng. 2017)
Length: 30 pages
Original in: Japanese
Availability: Mikumari - US
Mikumari - UK
Mikumari - Canada
  • Japanese title: ミクマリ
  • Translated by Polly Barton
  • With a Foreword by Naomi Alderman
  • A volume in the Strangers Press Keshiki-series

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Our Assessment:

B : solid, watery story

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Mikumari is narrated by a high school student being raised alone by his mother, a midwife who works out of their home. He is very familiar with the facts of life -- indeed, sometimes he is even called on to help with the deliveries, including as a stand-in for delayed husbands. He's been carrying on with his first sexual relationship as well, with a married woman, Anzu, who, he was surprised to learn, is twelve years older than he is.
       It is an unusual introduction to sex. Anzu was the one who picked him up, and Anzu also dictates the details of their relationship. An anime-obsessed woman, she literally writes scripts for him to follow in their encounters -- which take place costumed. The randy teen, who has practically no familiarity or interest in anime or manga, is willing to go along with her demands in exchange for sex -- though she actually slips him some money as well, blurring the lines of the nature of their relationship even further.
       A more age- and otherwise appropriate girl is classmate Nana, whom he had "fancied" before he got involved with Anzu, and when she gets a summer job at the pool where he is working as a lifeguard they get closer. He breaks it off with Anzu, devoting himself to the more (naturally) childish Nana and indulging in a more typical-teen relationship. But Anzu did leave quite a mark on him .....
       As Naomi Alderman notes in her Foreword, Mikumari is a drenched story, wetness and water all around, from the most intimate places to the pool the narrator works at and the river that separates where he and Anzu live; even the explanation of the title reveals a very wet connection. Childbirth and sex obviously loom large -- including inescapably at home, but elswhere too, and issues of parent-and-child figure too, with the narrator's father entirely absent and, as it turns out, Anzu hoping to get a child of her own. The characters don't always seem or act age-appropriately either, whether Anzu is cosplaying or the narrator is thrust into the adult position of helping women deliver their babies; Nana, too, is repeatedly described as particularly childlike.
       For such a short story -- and, at barely twenty pages of text Mikumari really is only a short story -- there are surprisingly many layers to it, quite effectively presented by Kubo so that it feels considerably more expansive than its length would suggest. Nicely evocative -- if rather drenched and graphic -- Mikumari is a solid little work, justifying its stand-alone publication

       Note: Mikumari is one of the volumes in Strangers Press' Keshiki-series of chapbooks, and, like all the volumes in the series, quite beautifully produced -- including with a nice Glen Robinson cover-illustration.

- M.A.Orthofer, 26 July 2017

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Mikumari: Reviews: Kubo Misumi: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Japanese author Kubo Misumi (窪美澄) was born in 1965.

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