I HAVEN'T DREAMED OF FLYING FOR A WHILE by Taichi Yamada, translated by David James Karashima. London: Faber & Faber, 2008, 195 pp., £10.99 (paper).

He is in bed with her. "Take my nipple in your mouth," she says. "Just like nobody can console a person who is getting old — a person who is getting closer and closer to death — nobody can console me as I get younger and disappear. It's not your fault. This nipple next."

Although a 67-year-old grandmother, she appears to be a beautiful teenager, getting younger every time he meets her. "I pulled the cover over her naked shoulder and felt like a father fixing the blankets of his child — even though I, only a moment before, had been myself inside her. I wondered what would happen." Will she next be a child? And the time after that — will she even have been born?"

In this beautifully conceived metaphysical fantasy Taichi Yamada dramatizes a wayward liebestod, a backward love affair that links with death in both directions. In so doing he returns to a favored theme, the persistence of memory, one which so distinguished his most popular book.