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« Pafko at the wall... in Wisconsin | Main | Woo What? »
Tuesday
Feb062007

In a Grove with Toshiro

52_feature_350x180.jpg One of the inspirations for my fiction has been the films of Akira Kurosawa - but it's one of those things that I find hard to say why. It's not like I am writing allegorical Japanese Samurai tales on the Canadian prairies. And I am not styling characters after the great Toshiro Mifune, who for my money has the coolest name for an actor ever - way more bad ass that say, Clint Eastwood. Just to digress for a second, rent Yojimbo and Fistful of Dollars and watch them back to back. You tell me if you don't see a LOT of Eastwood mannerisms modeled after Mifune. Hell, the poncho is pretty much a kimono.

ANYWAY... I found a copy of Rashomon by Akutagawa Ryunosuke in a used bookstore. I'd read the story collection in the past, maybe a library book, I can't recall. It's always interesting to me when I return to a book years later, at a different stage of life, and in this case, a different stage of being a writer.

I am struck by the pared down simple prose, maybe because I have been reading a lot of Richard Ford lately, the similarities struck me. And how both books (Rashomon and Ford's Rock Springs) are going after a certain kind of truth. The point of view structure in Rashomon was made famous through the Kurosawa film (which combined 2 stories from the collection, In a Grove and Rashomon). This structure continues to show up in everything from animated films (Hoodwinked), crime dramas (CSI 2006 episode - Rashomania), cool Jim Jarmusch movies (Ghost Dog) and even Homer gives it a mention.
Marge: 'You liked Rashomon.'
Homer: 'That's not how I remember it.'

I think about this structure when writing my fiction. Not neccesarily the telling of the story through different narrators, but how the truth of a tale spills onto the page based on who is the storyteller, and in a Rashomon type trick, the viewpoint through a character created by the writer. Don't think about this too long, it will hurt your head. It hurts mine.

Text for In a Grove</

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