Salty Drive
Author: Tamaki Daido
Specifications: ISBN  978-4163217604
193 pages
13.6 x 19.0 cm / 5.4 x 7.6 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Bungeishunju Ltd.
Tokyo, 2003
Awards: Akutagawa Prize, 2002
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Miho, the narrator of the title tale in this collection, is 34 years old. The story is a precise record, in measured prose, of how she and Tsukumo, a man in his sixties, engage in aimless pursuits together, driving along the shore, for instance, eventually becoming physically involved and moving in with each other. Miho has known Tsukumo, who lives in a small town along the same shoreline, since she was young. Both her father and her brother have made use of interest-free loans from Tsukumo, whose wealth is matched by his kindness.

Tsukumo has retired from his job in the town office. He has a wife and a son about Miho's age, but lives apart from them; his wife has taken a young fisherman as a lover. Although Miho remains in her relationship with him, she has not given up on Asobu, the man to whom she gave her virginity. The lead actor and troupe director for a local theater group, Asobu was the object of Miho's infatuation, but he went through women rapidly and Miho was soon cast aside. In the end, Miho reaches her decision: "It's not about the physical. It's more important to make a life together." The work is an invigorating portrayal of a young, rebellious girl who leaves her family behind, learns the sting of solitude, and searches anew for a meaningful connection.

In this collection the title work is paired with two other short stories: Fujibitai (Widow's Peak) about a 14-year-old girl who has sex with a sumo wrestler during his visit to Kyushu, and Tanpopo to ryusei (Dandelions and Shooting Stars), the tale of two women who remain inseparable through a long friendship from preschool through adulthood.