It’s a wonder “The Crimson Thread of Abandon” was never translated into English before. Shuji Terayama (1935-83) was a provocative artist and outlaw author, and his 20 stories fall nothing short of this reputation. Each borrows and mocks the conventions of a classic fairy tale, but reeks of hopelessness and misfortune, leaving his characters no happy endings.

The Crimson Thread of Abandon: Stories, by Shuji Terayama, Translated by Elizabeth L. Armstrong.
Merwin Asia, Fiction.

Titles such as “Alice in Shadowland” and “Hide-and-Not-Go- Seek” resonate within as an eerie echo, a sad dream. Instead of gifting these stories with a shiny bow, Terayama ties his compilation with a crimson thread and provokes us to rip and tear until the end.

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