This story was written in 1949 by the burgeoning poet Yasushi Inoue as a serial for his high school buddy, who happened to be the editor of Japanese equivalent of Field & Stream. The hunting hook is a Churchill shotgun that is lovingly polished and aimed at a lead character behind her back. That doesn’t sound like much, but a young writer has to get published by any means necessary.
The main narrative is wrapped in a gimmick that isn’t impactful, but the emotions of these players are. The narrative itself is composed of three letters, written by three women, to one Mr. Josuke Misugi. The first is from a young woman who is the daughter of a family friend, a pseudo-niece. The second is from Misugi’s wife. And the third is from the dying woman Misugi has been in long-term affair with. Plot buster – he didn’t get away with it.
The niece’s letter is blah. Misugi’s wife’s is thought-provoking as she reflects on why she didn’t confront the cheaters when she, by chance, spotted them. She reflects on the biggest fork in her life’s road. Perhaps she couldn’t confront them, because The Other Woman was her closest, most respected friend. The one she called Elder Sister…superior to her in every way. She was likely afraid that Musagi would be forced to choose between them and she didn’t like her odds. Ultimately (i.e., 13-years later,) she confronts the dying woman. In the book’s final letter, the one from the dying woman, the dissimilar interpretations of the encounter between the wife and the cheat are also of note.
The final letter is the most powerful and you can read it if you come across this slim booklet. What you will probably remember is the school girl story of whether you would rather love or be loved. Everyone’s swift answer is the latter…but really? Think about it.