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Netsuke Paperback – May 3, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
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Ducornet is a novelist of ambition and scope. One is grateful for what she’s accomplished here.”The New York Times
Pick up a book by the award-winning Ducornet, and you know it will be startling, elegant, and perfectly formedlike netsuke, those miniature Japanese sculptures used to fasten the cord of a kimono. This latest, an unflinching meditation on the twinned drives of lust and destruction, is no exception. . . . Writing about a satyr-psychiatrist could be so predictable, but Ducornet makes her characters real and scary beneath the ruminative, quietly observant prose. Highly recommended for literate readers.”Library Journal
"Ducornet's new book tenaciously plums the tension between impulse and restraint." American Book Review
An enticing, fast-moving exploration of one man’s obsession with his calculated power and unhinged desires.”Booklist
Ms. Ducornet writes with velocity, immediacy, and impact. It only takes a few pages to be caught up in the mind of the doctor. . . . This story has some fascinating insights and noholds-barred language.”New York Journal of Books
'When the very air of one's marriage grows thin and dim, there is nothing to do but set out to find a richer, brighter air,' ponders the narrator of Port Townsend author Rikki Ducornet's brief, fervent novel Netsuke. . . . Written in lyrical, sensuous prose, as if shrouded in a fog of humidity, Netsuke emerges as a character study of a man in crisis.”The Seattle Times
"The almost eerie tale of a dicey, bisexual psychoanalyst gone mad.”Washington City Paper
[A] finely crafted object of a novel . . . . Ducornet weaves a complex tapestry of various and repeated colors, textures, and designs. . . . The total effect is simply remarkable, an austere yet somehow lush beauty. At times this chilling tale seems neo-gothic, reminiscent of the work of Patrick McGrath, though much more compact. Ducornet has the extraordinary ability to compress an explosive tale of violence and repression in a small, tight container. . . . [W]e are simultaneously repulsed and entranced as the disturbing but gorgeous story accelerates to its foregone conclusion.”Rain Taxi
Carefully limning the interstices between obsession, rage, desire, truth, and intimacy, as well as attentively traversing the places of same, Netsuke castigates a life, and perhaps our society as a whole, in which Eros has gone awry.”American Book Review
Netsuke is a testament to Ducornet’s ever evolving, ever relevant, and simply compelling ability to tell a story. It’s well-suited for this era so defined by its shades of gray. . . . [I]t is perfect for this moment in American culture.”KGB Bar Lit Journal
Dark, yet enlightening. Rikki Ducornet’s writing is beautifully disturbed, off-putting and brilliant. . . . Rikki Ducornet uses the loathsome character as a vehicle to explore interesting points about the intersection between humanity and animal instinct.”Twin Cities Daily Planet
[Netsuke] mesmerizes in its fascination with the psychoanalyst’s destruction of anything worthwhile around him, and the reader becomes a voyeur unable to look away. . . . The writing is superb, whether detailing disturbing moments fraught with drama or revealing the doctor’s thoughts. . . . Netsuke has teeth and claws. It isn’t a comfortable book for a reader to inhabit, and yet it has important things to say, embedded in the deadly beautiful prose. . . . Readers owe it to themselves to encounter this slim but complex novel on its own terms.”Jeff Vandermeer
Rikki Ducornet's Netsuke is a slim but powerful novel. This dark psycho-sexual tale of a psychoanalyst's downward spiral is crisply written, engrossing, and impossible to forget, and has me searching out other works by Ducornet.”Large-Hearted Boy
"Ducornet is a very good writer, and she crafts a marvelous and disturbing story. . . . If you can stomach the bleak view of intimacy (A moment’s bliss and then: the mule brays”), this novel is amazing. For fans of Chuck Palahniuk.”Hey Small Press
"Netsuke comes at the summit of Rikki Ducornet's passionate, caring, and accomplished career. Its readers will pick up pages of painful beauty and calamitous memory, and their focus will be like a burning glass; its examination of a ruinous sexual life is as delicate and sharp as a surgeon's knife. And the rendering? The rendering is as good as it gets."William Gass
[Ducornet] writes novels in delicate, precise language. . . . [Netsuke] is an introspective study of the life of a bad manor is he a man who just keeps making bad decisions?who can't stop abusing his power.”The Stranger
Judging by her new novel, [Ducornet] has not lost ground. . . . Netsuke, a short novel that seethes with dark energy and sinister eroticism, still has power to shock, maybe even to appall. . . . Our society is numb to explicit depictions of sexual acts. The perversity, decadence, even the depravity that Ducornet renders here feel explosively fresh because their sources are thought and emotion, not the body, and finally there’s pathos too.”The Boston Globe
"Netsuke is a little masterpiece, a gem of a psychological novel. Because the doctor's mental condition is unstable, his actions are unpredictable, lending an uncertainty to the plot which keeps the story taut and exciting. And the ending is unpredictable, though in context makes perfect sense. Very highly recommended."Lisa Guidarini, NBCC
[Netsuke], just released on Coffee House Press, is a classic example of Ducornet’s desire to explore darkness. . . . To this writer, the psyche is a most magnetic frontier.”Peninsula Woman
Rikki Ducornet can create an unsettling, dreamlike beauty out of any subject. In the heady mix of her fiction, everything becomes potently suggestive, resonant, fascinating. She exposes life’s harshest truths with a mesmeric delicacy and holds her readers spellbound.”Joanna Scott
There is the time before you open Rikki Ducornet’s Netsuke and then there is only the time in which you are readinga searing present of heart-swallowing secrets, warped eroticism, betrayals, and insight trellised against the page in nightshade-gorgeous prose.”Forrest Gander
"Rikki Ducornet travels . . . literary terrain with an assured, lyrical voice that consistently fascinates." Los Angeles Review
Top Customer Reviews
Akiko, a collage artist who sells her work at exhorbitant prices, is the doctor's wife. Independent from him financially, because she makes exhorbitant amounts of money from her career as a collage artist, she is very emotionally invested in their marriage. Sensing, perhaps not consciously, he's at the least closer to his patients that is appropriate, Akiko appears the oblivious spouse. However, her intellect and attention to detail hint otherwise.
Married for ten years, the doctor has not so much fallen out of love with his wife as begun to see her more through admiration of her purity than as a sexual object. At the same time he loves her for her dedication, he hates her for it nearly as much. She's so ethically good, still lovely, and treats him with trust verging on saintly, yet he finds himself dropping clues to her about his unfaithfulness. His mental issues involve lack of impulse control as well as narcissism as he drags his wife through an ever-increasing chain of events leading downward.
The doctor manages to keep his home life largely separate from his increasingly kinky and depraved affairs, aside from the occasional hints to Akiko, until he meets a woman he calls the Cutter.Read more ›
Author Rikki Ducornet does an excellent job at getting inside the doctor's mind and at expressing his thoughts. This psychiatrist is unwilling to stop cheating on his wife and has been living this secret life for many years.
He seems to want his wife to find out about his infidelities, he drops clues often, but she turns a blind eye. The wife, Akiko, is a successful artist, often away due to her work. This is the doctor's third marriage and the couple live well off because of their professions. The doctors lover's all have issues and he seems to enjoy playing with fire this way. One of his partners is a young woman who cuts herself, another is a cross-dresser. He has no shame in his sexual encounters, whether they occur in his office or in his home. He even schedules his affairs into his week on a regular basis, i.e. Fridays afternoons are kept open for sex with patients.
The doctor himself is despicable, not only is he unfaithful, but he is taking advantage of his patients. I couldn't help but be sucked into this story and was curious as to whether he would get caught. He was unstable and impulsive, and his actions kept shocking me until the final page. When he wants to impress a patient, he goes out and buys new clothes, bringing his wife along for her opinion.
I felt he both loved and hated his wife. He resents her for his own unfaithful ways, blaming her for his behavior. His complex character is what made the story. I found it ironic that the doctor was the one that needed the therapy.
This is the type of book that you read slowly.Read more ›
The main character in this short novel would be at home in a Roth novel. His sexuality is all-consuming, even perverse, and it torments him. As the novel begins, he is able to maintain a careful balance between his comfortable, solid home and professional life and the sordid "interstices" (his word) where he betrays wife and profession. He seems to exude an animal magnetism at times, but most often his sexual liaisons are with those who seek help from him. As a psychoanalyst, he has access to wounded and needy people, and he takes the almost cliched view that he is helping them as he screws them.
The first part of the novel is told almost entirely from his point of view. We get to know his wife, Akiko, and his patients (or as he calls them, "clients") only through the lens of his torment. The second part, which makes up the final 3rd of the novel, switches to a third person narration that allows us to see the damage he is doing as his life and interstices mix together and collapse. I found the ending to be too rapid, and though descents such as his do occur, I felt like Ducornet robbed the novel of some of its power by having his life unravel so quickly. The ending felt a bit like Checkov's early plays where, though the ending is appropriate, it is somehow at the same time lacking in power. Checkov, of course, went on to write masterpieces like The Cherry Orchard; perhaps Ducornet has a potential masterpiece in her as well.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very interesting read that could have been drawn out into a larger work had the author wanted.Published 7 months ago by Fred M. Jeffers
Why did I read this pointless story about horrible people? Also: a schizophrenic transwoman? The meek Japanese wife? Ugh. I paid money for this ;(Published 12 months ago by Duck Darling
Reminiscent of Nabokov's Despair, Netsuke is a tale of one man's unhappiness spurred by mental illness and a lifetime of alienation. The novel is divided into two parts. Read morePublished on May 13, 2013 by Liz W.
This is a captivating and creative roller-coaster of a ride through the mind of a deranged shrink. It is intriguing and ironic and beautiful and compelling all at the same time. Read morePublished on January 2, 2013 by Aileen
This story of a doctor who is driven by his need for erotic encounters, isn't particularly erotic. The author focuses on the darkness inside the main character, rather than the sex... Read morePublished on April 26, 2012 by Rebecca Benson
The author of this book must have not liked her characters as much as I did, because she killed them in a car crash at the end! Read morePublished on April 3, 2012 by Ulalume Viva Jones
I won a copy of this book from LibraryThing in their Early Reviewers Giveaway this past April. I've decided for this review I'm not going to follow my usual format of breaking it... Read morePublished on July 2, 2011 by Mandy