One of the dominant characteristics of Yasushi Inoue’s rhetorical style in “Life of a Counterfeiter and Other Stories” (Pushkin Press; 144 pages; $18) in is his use of “hedging” phrases, such as “for some reason,” “I’ll never know” and “I may simply be reading too much into things.”
These phrases could be interpreted as creating a narrator who is so fraught with uncertainty that he can only suggest things with modesty rather than declare them with authority.
These stories — written after World War 2 in the early 1950s, but often looking back through the haze of memory at events that took place long before and during the war — can then be seen as a reaction against the kind of narrative certainty about Japan’s prominence in the world that led the nation into its disastrous overreach in China, Korea, and South East Asia. In that sense, his narrative hedging can be seen as an attempt to be precise about the meaning of things that can’t be known.
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