Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids recounts the exploits of 15 teenage reformatory boys evacuated to a remote mountain village in wartime. The boys are treated as delinquent outcasts - feared and detested by the local peasants. When plague breaks out, their hosts abandon them and flee, blockading them inside the empty village. The boys' brief and doomed attempt to build autonomous lives of self-respect, love, and tribal valour fails in the face of death and the adult nightmare of war.
©1958 Kenzaburo Oe (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"An angry, engrossing novel...It is an extraordinary first novel, an amazing achievement for a writer of any age. Myth-like and almost painfully suspenseful, Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids has much in common with both Lord of the Flies and The Plague.... His uncompromising honesty is what gives the story its universality and what makes its grim ending such a persuasive warning." (New York Times)
"Oe is considered by many to be Japan's greatest postwar novelist. It's easy to see why. Here, his writing is crisp and lovely and gruesomely perfect." (Publishers Weekly)
“Available for the first time in English, this first novel by the winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize in Literature is assured an audience both among those who are familiar with Oe's work and eagerly await the translations that will inevitably follow the awarding of the prize and those who are newly aware of Oe as a major literary figure and wish to sample the range of his work.” (Library Journal)
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Overall, this is a solid and well written book. Bleak, but solid.
The first chapter is problematic, and I'm not sure if it's a translation issue or an author issue, but words like "fagged out" feel jarring and wholly out of place. It's also hard to follow until the trip to the village. Give it a chapter or two.
Which raises my second issue with the book. There was a weird, creepy sexual undertone that was inconsistent but kept sneaking in every so often. I say weird and creepy because it didn't seem to fit in the larger context of the book. It couldn't decide what kind of tone it wanted to be. It alternated between homoerotic and homophobic with an healthy underlying dose of implied pedophilia thrown in for good measure.
Don't get me wrong all of those have an arguably valid place in literature, but they didn't fit here --at all. They did absolutely nothing to add to an otherwise solid story nor were they relevant to character development. Rather they felt like the author was either trying to personally work through something, or added in a bit of sexually socking ambiguity because -- you know-- literary fiction is more literary that way.
So 4 but with a huge star-sucking caveat.
an excellent story but depressing
the child who took care of the dog
when the main character refused to sell out.
the killing of the dog
this book depressed me and made me lose faith in my fellow human beings.
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