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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Seven Samurai Swept
Away in a River

Jung Young Moon

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To purchase Seven Samurai Swept Away in a River

Title: Seven Samurai Swept Away in a River
Author: Jung Young Moon
Genre: Novel
Written: 2018 (Eng. 2019)
Length: 164 pages
Original in: Korean
Availability: Seven Samurai Swept Away in a River - US
Seven Samurai Swept Away in a River - UK
Seven Samurai Swept Away in a River - Canada
  • Korean title: 강물에 떠내려가는 7인의 사무라이
  • Translated by Yewon Jung

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Our Assessment:

B : off-beat, both in substance and presentation, and good fun as such

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       The narrator of Seven Samurai Swept Away in a River is, basically, Jung Young Moon, and it is set in Texas, where the narrator spends much of his time in: "a house in C, a small town near Dallas" -- as Jung did as a resident writer in 2017 at 100 W in Corsicana. He also spends a lot of time in Dallas at the home of an artist couple he is friends with, author D and artist N, and when they ask him about the novel he is working on:

I told them it was a novel written by someone who didn't know much about Texas because he didn't know about Texas, a novel that didn't really have much to say, a halfhearted attempt to come up with a series of groundless hypotheses, a mixture of the stream of consciousness technique, the paralysis of consciousness technique, and the derangement of consciousness technique
       The idea of stream/paralysis/derangement of consciousness sums up the novel well: this isn't episodic, plot-driven fiction, but rather very much goes with the flow, as Jung glides from one topic to another, seemingly whatever comes to mind. His riffs aren't so much digressions as the point and substance. They include a lengthy one on plots, too, as he admits that:
something else that made me lose myself in more rambling thoughts were the plots of novels, and I thought that the only plot in my life, if it could indeed be called a plot, were the plots of day and night, of the weather of the day, and of the four seasons and the climate, and that plots, which were considered absolutely necessary in fiction, might as well not exist, and that the less they existed the better
       He certainly seems to try to put that into practice, refusing to follow traditional plot-lines -- and at one point suggesting, perhaps for those who still hope to cling to one, several pages worth of summary (non-)plots ("a plot that can't be seen with the naked eye", for example, or: "a good-for-nothing plot", among many others).
       His Texan experiences do inspire much of what he goes on about; as he notes at the outset, even for those who haven't been to a place, it can still bring much to mind -- preconceptions and the like -- and he acknowledges coming to Texas with an idea of 'Texas' that informs his experience but, unsurprisingly, there's a lot more to it too. And, as he notes:
     During my stay in Texas I didn't try to learn many things about Texas, but I couldn't help learning many trivial things
       And while much is incidental, quite a few of the riffs do go in some depth, as he considers, for example, Kennedy-assassin Lee Oswald's killer, Jack Ruby, or Bonnie and Clyde -- zeroing in also on specific bits of their stories that strike him, such as that Ruby brought along his dog when he killed Oswald (leaving it in the car) or the hot chocolate in the air when Bonnie and Clyde met and "fell instantly in love". He also considers Hemingway at some length.
       Beyond that are also the interactions with the locals -- in stores, bars, and at a proper huge Texas farm whose owner offers him a job as: "a semi-cowboy and teaching him to write a novel"; one suspects the farm-owner might not blossom under the narrator's tutelage -- but maybe he was also eager to write a digressive work like this ...... The job offer also leads the narrator to recall the only other previous job offer he'd gotten -- to be a yogi, which he then describes at some length, a typically entertaining if somewhat out of near nowhere digression; Jung certainly specializes in the off-beat, as regards both subject matter and presentations.
       Eventually, the seven samurai of the title also begin to be a presence. He doesn't:
know what they had to do with the Akira Kurosawa movie by the same title which I saw long ago and remembered almost nothing about, aside from the fact that seven samurai appeared i it, but anyway they weren't samurai from the beginning but instead some vague moving figures which turned more and more samurai-like, then finally turned into samurai, seven in all
       They're useful fall-backs, repeatedly finding their way into his riffs. He even imagines writing: "a novel, my last novel, that could be called a dead-end novel, a large part of which would be about the rough journey of seven samurai".
       It makes for an odd little story, not quite going nowhere but certainly spiraling and looping about -- with as strong Texas flavoring -- without particularly obvious progression. The variety -- and the fact that it doesn't go on too long -- make for an entertaining enough little volume.

- M.A.Orthofer, 1 November 2019

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Seven Samurai Swept Away in a River: Reviews: Other books by Jung Young Moon under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       South Korean author Jung Young Moon (정영문) was born in 1965.

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© 2019 the complete review

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