Muse
Author: Mari Akasaka
Specifications: ISBN  978-4163190402
147 pages
13.4 x 19.0 cm / 5.4 x 7.6 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Bungeishunju Ltd.
Tokyo, 2000
www.bunshun.co.jp/
Awards: Noma Prize for New Writers, 2000
Buy now: amazon.co.jp

Synopsis

Mio Akishima is a second-year high school student. Unknown to her parents, she has been working as a model and actress since she was in middle school, after being scouted on the street. When an Italian cameraman berates her for her crooked teeth during a photo shoot, she decides she needs to do something about them if she wants to succeed as an actress, and begins a two-year orthodontic treatment. Attracted to her dentist, Hiroya, for not flattering, pressuring, or lecturing her, she flirts with him although she knows he has a wife and three-year-old daughter. He is from a family in which his father and brother are dentists as well, and his modern home and clinic are in the upscale Seijo district, while Mio lives, though not far away, in an old wooden house at the bottom of a hill. Her mother is deep into a new religion and, besides keeping a shrine altar that's far too big for the tiny house, has been grooming Mio to become a shrine maiden, or "muse," in God's service from the time she was five years old. Mio's father has stopped coming around, and Mio feels painfully responsible. When Hiroya invites Mio out on his cabin cruiser and they have sex, she is the one who says she wants him to tie her up . . . "I'm not looking for memories?good or bad. Painful or fond, they make no difference to me. I just live in this body from one day to the next." A brilliant exploration of female psychology through all of its nooks and crannies, and written in a unique and compelling literary style, this novella conveys with striking vividness a modern Japanese woman's experience of her body.