Friday, October 24, 2014

Last Winter We Parted

Last Winter We Parted
Fuminori Nakamura
Translated by:
Allison Markin Powell


Published October 21st, 2014

First Sentence
"It's safe to say you killed them... Isn't that right?"

Publisher's Description:

A young writer arrives at a prison to interview a man arrested for homicide. He has been commissioned to write a full account of the case, from its bizarre and grisly details to the nature of the man behind the crime. The suspect, while world-renowned as a photographer, has a deeply unsettling portfolio—lurking beneath the surface of each photograph is an acutely obsessive fascination with his subject.

He stands accused of murdering two women—both burned alive—and will likely face the death penalty. But something isn't quite right, and as the young writer probes further, his doubts about this man as a killer intensify. He soon discovers the desperate, twisted nature of all who are connected to the case, struggling to maintain his sense of reason and justice. What could possibly have motivated this man to use fire as a torturous murder weapon? Is he truly guilty, or will he die to protect someone else?

The suspect has a secret—it may involve his sister, who willfully leads men to their destruction, or the "puppeteer," an enigmatic figure who draws in those who have suffered the loss of someone close to them. As the madness at the heart of the case spins out of control, the confusion surrounding it only deepens. What terrifying secrets will this impromptu investigator unearth as he seeks the truth behind these murders?

Dear Reader,

This book made me flash to that song on the top 50 radio station, "Girl on Fire" by Alicia Keys. You must have heard this song, the chorus is just over and over "This girl is on FIIIIRRREEEEE, Ohhhh Oooh Ooooh".

Anyways, yeah... probably a horrible thought for such a dark subject. Moving on... to the actual book.... I was SO frustrated that Last Winter We Parted didn't give me what I wanted from it. It was such a quick read and from the start I was really enjoying it, but the last 1/3 of the book took the longest jump into a pool of blah, EVER! I just wanted that last chapter to end. I'm so sad because I devoured the first part so quickly. 

Putting my disappointment aside, I did like a few things enough not to throw the book off the train (yes, I finished this on the train). The first person we meet is the investigative journalist who is compelled to interview and write a book about this well known photographer who set some of his models on fire and photographed them. He visits him in jail and hears a little about his side of the story. From there we're brought to various individuals attached to the case, one of these includes his sexy sister that seduces the investigator. It's like Melrose Place up in here. Okay, maybe not that bad but it definitely treads that line of "what just happened?", which can be really entertaining or annoying as heck. This started getting pretty darn annoying.

The beginning of the book was chock full of insightful and thoughtful ideas surrounding photography and the psychology that can be attached to the art. Much talk surrounding the idea of capturing the essence of someone in a photo, or even how a snapshot captures a small moment in time and can be kept for eternity. All this talk of philosophical ideas behind a photograph brought me straight back to right after High School, I had a bout of insomnia at the time right after my best friend passed away from a tragic accident. I was distraught and during that time had enlisted in a few classes at the local community college (one of them being photography). I was deeply saddened and affected by my friends passing, I couldn't sleep. So what do you do at two or three in the morning on the fourth sleepless night? Go outside, inhale the night air, bring your camera and start taking pictures. It was a combination of the realization that life is too short and also a way to release that pain in a creative way. Ali (the friend who passed) and I were the top picture takers in our group of friends, so when the time came to gather what we had in memorial for her, I had tons to contribute. The things is this, I started to realize how important photos can be and I wanted to make sure that I documented EVERY important thing that happened in my life AND all those things that didn't seem to be important but might turn into something significant. I would look back on those photos and it would bring me closer to her, keeping her memory and essence alive. I think that's why the main characters idea of capturing the essence of someone in a photo is astoundingly similar to the realization I had come across at such a young age.

Once I made that kind of connection to this book, it was hard for me to admit that it was going downhill. Like I said before, it had such promise but the end felt so rushed. I thought the second to last chapter was just one big last ramble to tie everything together. I just wish the Author would have taken his time and kept the story a little more bizarre and not so mainstream. I liked dipping into this world of characters that look at things askew and find profound things in the simple. Maybe it got lost in the translation, who knows. I'd love to see how others felt about this book, I'll be scouring the internet for the reviews.

Happy Reading,

Last Winter We Parted

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  1. Amber, this was a BEAUTIFUL review/memorial. I may be slow in reading our posts, but I do read every one!!! And speaking of reading, I think I'll give this one a pass if it's not worth my time...SO MUCH to get to!!! :)

  2. Aw, thanks hun. I read all of your posts too! It makes it so nice to be able to see what we think about books we both picked up! I would say skip this one too, I don't think you'd like it.


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