Of the 12 “visions of Japan” gathered in Future Fiction’s “Love Hotel City,” Steve Finbow’s “Shadowings” is among the most interesting. In it he explores the relationship between a character who appears in a comic and the artist who draws that character.
Is tubby young Takahiro the artist? And is the girl whom Takahiro follows the character? That the girl’s face, when first glimpsed, is “thin as a cigarette paper,” and that Takahiro can see through it, hints that she is the less substantial. But when Takahiro finds, in the end, “a thick black line holding him in,” and that “nothing else existed,” the roles appear to be reversed. The last word of the story — I won’t reveal it here — bears this out and serves as a nod to Franz Kafka, an author who, unlike some authors represented in this collection, understood the efficacy of calm, precise prose in writing about situations unsettling and fantastic.