‘Having a Blast’ by Matsuda Aoko, translated by Polly Barton

To dive right in to the preoccupations of Matsuda Aoko, this story is a good introduction, from her collection about the strangeness of ghosts and women and the past and the way life leaks between the two. In three parts there are separate narrations from the point of view of the deceased wife, her husband, and the second wife. The ghost speaks directly to the reader but by the time one arrives at this latter story in the collection, one is used to this tone and device and the easy gliding between perspectives. The story speaks to the sense that the past is always present. The logic of what might be called ‘real life’ is exemplified in the portrait of work life of the company where the characters were employed. Within each section, though, the writing style is sparse and clear and one is beguiled by the individual voices.

Collected in Where the Wild Ladies Are, Tilted Axis, 2020

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