Nov 20, 2009 7:17 AM
Most of our recent book selections have dealt with either violence or snacks, we admit it. But Junichiro Tanizaki's 1929 Some Prefer Nettles is about neither. Instead, it's sort of an anti-love story, by which we do NOT mean a hate story - the book is a slow, insightful picture of a husband and wife who just aren't very interested in each other any longer, but who can't seem to bring themselves to divorce. (The title references a proverb about those who are happiest when they're not happy.) One of Tanizaki's greatest strengths is his ability to portray human quirks and flaws in an understated, precise way - you'll laugh at the characters from time to time, but the same moments that make them ridiculous make them sympathetic. Plenty of writers can present you with grandiose weirdos, but it takes a master to show you the real ways in which people are strange.