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The Box Man: A Novel Paperback – July 10, 2001
Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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“A stunning addition to the literature of eccentricity…an ontological thriller.”–The New York Times
“Brilliant…. Like Kafka’s, Abe’s work reveals an astonishing ability to create dreamlike events."–Chicago Tribune
Top Customer Reviews
You really don't want to know more about 'The Box Man' at this moment, deciding what is going on is one of the main pleasures of reading the book, Abe's wacked style is another.
I'd never read any of Kobo Abe's work before and found 'The Box Man' fascinatingly disturbed. If you want it weird, get this book. I'm definitely going to read more of his works.
The prose might not be wonderful (noting that Abe was clearly very capable as shown in The Woman in the Dunes) - but there is still much incredible writing. As example - the cold, analytical description of the naked nurse, as seen by the box man through a rear vision mirror held up to the hospital window, captures the contra-seductive and totally counter-erotic feel of this bizarre scene. The disjointed, Dadaist style leads you on a confusing, almost delirious journey between the box man, the fake box man, yet another maybe fake box man, the real doctor and the fake doctor. Was there a murder (or assisted suicide) or was it all just a dream? Just who is the narrator? I think the pieces fall into place, but who can be sure?
Hard to imagine a box man life evolving in any other culture outside of Japan - and it is a tribute to Japanese literature that such a theme can be embraced as real/valid and a tribute to Kobo Abe for turning it into a masterpiece.
This is a difficult piece of writing (and reading!) and I expect many will not enjoy it - but try looking beyond `enjoy' and I think you will find this read intriguing.
"...the nameless protagonist gives up his identity and the trappings of a normal life to live in a large cardboard box he wears over his head."
I thought that sounded like an intriguing concept and have enjoyed other works by Abe in the past and his Kafka-esque sense of reality so I took it out.
I was quite disappointed once I finished it. I did not enjoy reading The Box Man and struggled to finish it.
There are things I liked about it - the concept is intriguing, the intricate narrative structure, and I liked the mystery of just who the Box Man is. It is also quite original but that alone doesn't make it a good book. The Box Man simply isn't a pleasure to read, the story and the characters are about as compelling as watching grass grow, it's overwritten, pretentious, boring, and at less than 200 pages, too long. I also think that Abe explores the nature of identity much better in his other books, particularly The Ruined Map: A Novel. Here it just seems forced and muddled.
If you're going to read Abe, I recommend the aforementioned Ruined Map or The Woman in the Dunes over this.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sounds horrible to say, but, I'm "getting back into reading" this summer. Reading this book is akin to reading a schizophrenic's notebook; confusing, powerful, surreal, and... Read morePublished 27 days ago by Justin Cipa
I understand that this book is a first edition, but I do not consider the condition to be 'very good'. Read morePublished 12 months ago by cassandra laux
I have a certain sympathy with those who gave this 1 or 2 stars. The stories told to us as narration or written notes are not very compelling and yet the novel is. Read morePublished on July 2, 2014 by Amazonian
Loved this book! Very thought provoking and interesting writing style. Similar to Murakami. How many people live in the small world of a "box man"!Published on April 25, 2014 by Shirley Musich
"This is the record of a box man. I am beginning this account in a box. A cardboard box that reaches just to my hips when I put it over my head. Read morePublished on April 7, 2014 by Steven Davis
Beautifully presented and thoughtfully written character study. I loved this book. My only regret is I cannot read it in the original Japanese.Published on February 12, 2014 by Tom Nirider