Kenneth Hite (princeofcairo) wrote,
Kenneth Hite

Hearn Iä!

Speaking of 'mazingly cool things, I've been somewhat delinquent in mentioning the lovely new edition of Lafcadio Hearn's Kwaidan edited by Timothy "The Mountain Witch" Kleinert, which he sent me an embarrassing number of months ago. (Although he still doesn't have a page set up for it on his website, so who's delinquent now, eh? You can buy it from IPR, though.)

I know what you're thinking: "Ken, I already have the Dover Books edition of Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things, so why would I want Tim's no doubt estimable version?" Well, first and foremost, Kleinert has included five more stories, from Hearn's Ghostly Japan, as well as some "Goblin Poetry" from Hearn's The Romance of the Milky Way. (It's missing, however, the story "Ubazakura" and the wonderfully eccentric essays on "Insect Studies" included with the Dover version.) Secondly, like The Mountain Witch, this book is a triumph of Joshua Newman's design, which somehow manages to combine occasional bold-face, sidebar/footnotes, and ragged-right margins into a clean, evocative look that is appropriately "Japanese" without being Orientalist or fey. Finally, Kleinert's critical material (his Foreword, and the footnotes he has found or added to supplement Hearn's) is sounder, and far more useful for getting a handle on the material, than that in the Dover edition. Kleinert has rotated -- I don't want to say shaped, or even tuned -- Kwaidan into an "inspirational supplement" for Japanese folk-horror gaming, rather than just a hella good book of Japanese ghost stories.

Which it also is. Specifically, "Mujina" may be the scariest two pages ever written in English.
Tags: book review, horror

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