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“I just add one word to the next, with no idea where it all ends,” says author Toshiyuki Horie about “The Bear and the Paving Stone,” a collection of his stories now translated into English. “I try to catch the breeze between the words, then ride it wherever it leads.”

That breeze is most charming in the titular novella, in which a Japanese writer visits an old friend in France, tours Mont Saint-Michel and meets a neighbor whose son is blind. By contrast, the second story, “The Sandman is Coming,” tells of a man joining a woman on a beach walk, on the anniversary of her brother’s death. In the last story, darker in tone, two friends break into a castle with awful results.

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