Netsuke

Netsuke

by Rikki Ducornet

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Overview

Ruled by his hunger for erotic encounters, a deeply wounded psychoanalyst seduces both patients and strangers with equal heat. Driven to compartmentalize his life, the doctor attempts to order and contain his lovers as he does his collection of rare netsuke, the precious miniature sculptures gifted to him by his wife. This riveting exploration of one psychoanalyst’s abuse of power unearths the startling introspection present within even the darkest heart.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781566892537
Publisher: Coffee House Press
Publication date: 05/01/2011
Pages: 128
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

The author of eight novels as well as collections of short stories, essays, and poems, Rikki Ducornet has been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, honored twice by the Lannan Foundation, and the recipient of an Academy Award in Literature. Widely published abroad, Ducornet is also a painter who exhibits internationally. She lives in Port Townsend, Washington.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

A SMALL PRIVATE PARK that Akiko has transformed into a scene from The Tale of Genji extends beyond the house; it has a broad path that leads to the public trails, thickets, a wetland, a lake.

I run from our house into the public land in the mornings, often alone, in the early light. I can run for over an hour without hearing the hum of city traffic. This early in the day, there is something more than royal about this domain: it is mythical. I run toward the past — not my own past, mind you, but a distant, primal past. A past in which my own infancy, or the current lousy state of affairs, or even the great city beyond the bluff — is unimaginable.

Today when I return to the house, I see the lights are on in Akiko's studio. This means I will find a thermos of fresh green tea waiting for me on the kitchen counter. A sweet gesture, considering how evasive I am with her. Akiko has come to confuse my evasiveness with a retiring nature. In her words, I am "the silent type." My silence conceals a wealth of worlds best left undisclosed.

We have been together ten years. Long enough for my idiosyncrasies to have faded into invisibility. Akiko, too, has faded. She is the white noise I have come to depend upon and possibly cannot live without. Akiko is witchy, clairvoyant. Her astonishing dreams are astute, surgical. They keep me on my toes. This marriage of ours puts us both at risk. She is in danger because I lie incessantly and the habit of these lies has blunted her gift and confused her. Love has caused her to distrust her own intuitions. Yet I am in danger also, because I cannot help but offer her clues. It is inevitable that sooner or later I will falter, offer one clue too many and in this way bring us both down. When I fall, she will fall with me. Perhaps this is a comfort of a kind.

CHAPTER 2

MY PRACTICE BELONGS to a shelf in the Devil's Kitchen. Insulated, above suspicion, I take my pleasure and am sustained by the sorrow of others. Their carnality. The ceaseless ebb and tide of human inconstancy, negligence, cowardice.

* * *

In the world I know, everyone is betrayed sooner or later.

The Practice is not of my own making. I mean: it is an inheritance of a kind. I have wandered its maze since infancy. I do not know another way to live. I often wish I did. The Practice is the inevitable extension of my own private dilemma. It is lethal, and yet without it I would perish. Assiduously, I portion out its poisons. Assiduously, I orchestrate the days. Like a game of chess, the Practice proposes an infinite set of circumstances. Or, rather, not exactly infinite. For I begin to — and this admission is terrifying — to see how redundant, how compressed, the games are.

My clients are thwarted, famished, and lonely. Inevitably, sooner or later, I seize upon and penetrate the one who has wanted this from me from the first instant. Or has taken time but has come around to wanting it. For a client, fucking the doctor is always perceived as a triumph. Although I am always curious from the start. In this way I am made. If the client is attractive I cannot help but wonder: is she/he fuckable? An outrageous determination. And yet: fucking is the one determinism. The one inevitability. In this way it is exactly like death. You know you'll fuck, be fucked; you know you'll die and maybe be murdered. And maybe murder.

I've known transcendent sex, but its promise frightens me. The risks of delight are immense. The infant feeding at the madwoman's breast, slipping deliciously in and out of slumber, is fiercely smacked. Smacked when he sups, he is quickly weaned. In no time he has learned to suck up, bite, and wean. Always watchful for the hook, he travels deep into the world of men with his deft set of sharpened tools. He will become a hoodlum, a maniac, a soldier; he will become a priest, a prison guard, a cop. A dogmatist, a patriarch — decidedly a public danger. He will become a psychoanalyst. He will have a Practice.

He will learn to dissemble. He will laugh like a wolf. He will cut through the city streets like a blade through water. His realm will be the streets, their secret stores of pleasure, their secret doors (I have a drawer full of keys!) opening to wondrous rooms, unfamiliar rooms, shabby rooms. He is attracted to, appalled by, shabby rooms. The street boy's spare depot, the shopgirl's cluttered cheese box, the saturated confusion of the drag queen's aviary, her floor slick with hairspray and powder. (He must take care to shed these scents, to kick the dust up behind him before returning home.)

* * *

Unlike a female client, a man in a wig, a boy smelling of malnutrition, are not likely to hire a lawyer.

* * *

In recent years I have pretty much neglected Akiko. These days we live in something of a parallel universe. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of her strolling the garden in her dreamy way. Sometimes she vanishes for a week or more. My wife displays her work in distant cities where it is apparently much appreciated. As it should be.

There are times when I admire her imagination. The autonomy it assures her (and I so needful of company!). Day after day she paces her studio with her scissors, the glue pot, those images she has culled from all times and places. She's like a creature from a fairy tale, my Akiko: beautiful, ethereal, living much of her life alone with her scissors and, in silence, piecing scraps of paper together.

Always she returns from her journeys with stories and presents for me. Rare netsuke, for example, although I have so little interest in aesthetic devices.

CHAPTER 3

I LEAVE CLUES BEHIND both purposefully and inadvertently. Inadvertently because I do not wish to be discovered; I do not wish to hurt Akiko. There is a self within me who longs, at least from time to time, if more and more sporadically, to live a simple, tender life. Or, if this is beyond my powers, to engage the interstices with discretion, without harming Akiko. Yes. Without bringing her to harm.

Purposefully because I long to be discovered as I always have, since infancy, to receive the punishment that is my due. To risk annihilation. I court annihilation.

Deception is tiresome. It begins to seriously leech my resources, my strength, my powers of intellect, my time. And because there is a self within me who would crush Akiko's gentle neck. Who knows? Perhaps one day we will die together in a conflagration. Our own conflagration in a world that everywhere is burning.

* * *

Recently I made trouble for myself with a shopgirl. Such women are shameless; they are under the erroneous impression that other women, women like Akiko, are not. One will not disabuse them.

She could be my daughter, this overheated wench worthy of Wycherley. (She'd play Lucy, the buxom lady's maid.) Neurotic, cummy, self-aggrandizing, a braggart. I should know better. The new girl Friday to my wife's framer. My clairvoyant Akiko hated her on sight, whereas I couldn't take my eyes off her. We eye fucked straight away. The transaction ended badly, with Lucy spilling coffee on Akiko's portfolio. For this she was fired, if only briefly. Later in the week she called my office and begged me to intercede in her favor. As Akiko — in an unprecedented temper — had taken her business elsewhere and so could not know, I did as I was asked. Lucy triumphant, therefore, a thing I could not help but profit from. Her little deed amused the cad that dwells within. It should have ended after an afternoon's burn between two evildoers, but I was hooked. Encounters such as this enliven the days. And so the thing persisted.

Lucy was like a spoiled child; we played hard together. She teased me, she needled, she longed to see our house, Akiko's and mine. She hungered like a little cat for a taste of the fish set out upon the master's table. And so as soon as Akiko was away — clear across the country — the cats did counterfeit domestic bliss. (I should add that, if Lucy's transparency amused me, her needling also hardened me against her. Within the interstices, her place would always be secondary.) I knew our setup would floor her. She would be envious; she was. When I saw the green cinders leaping from those malicious eyes, I feared I had, once again, gone too far. (As when fucking the little blonde who does our taxes.)

We tumbled around the house like pandas. I spun her like a top. I rolled her about this way and that. We managed to despoil every room and knock over a small red lacquer box, although the house is sparely decorated. I knew enough to keep her out of the studio, but when she saw a large collage suspended above our bed, she raged: The bitch doesn't deserve all this! At that instant I could see her a decade down the road: flushed, fighting fat, bitter.

She needed soothing. I made her a kir, got out the snacks, and then, at night's fall, took her to the marriage bed.

Lucy was mollified by this ultimate betrayal; like Scrooge McDuck, a rainbow, a pot of gold spun above her head. I let her dream although I planned to dump her; she was — I could see it — pretty crazy, possibly borderline psychotic. I feared — and rightly so — an unregulated nature. It would be a job to manage the affair. I began to worm my way out of it.

As we cuddled and whispered together into the night, I revealed my sorry life; the doctor's life is not his own. Clients all in danger of collapse — or worse — from one moment to the next. The midnight calls from the hospital, fire department, or police. I made it clear our time together was possible only because of an unusual synchronicity: Akiko's opening in New York and the departure of a client, recently terminated and who had left for Australia where he intended to start up his own practice devoted to a thing he knew from the inside out: the misuse of infants and children by those who are depended upon for protection.

Lucy began to weep, poor, winsome brat! In her early teens an uncle had been inappropriate. I told her she was fortunate it had not happened sooner.

"Not sooner!" she surfaced like a porpoise from the foamy sheets. "So later is O.K.? Fuck that! Fuck you! I can't believe you said that!" Yet when I made to lick her tits she sighed and yawned, needful of a pre-dawn nap. (It is she who broke the shell; I am sure of it!)

* * *

The minute Akiko returned, she knew something was amiss. She barely touched the take-out sushi, artfully presented, but roamed the house mumbling that it looked odd, it felt odd. She wondered if it had actually shifted, if ever so slightly, on its foundations. Had there been a small earthquake? A torrential rain? And then she found the shell. A precious shell from Indonesia, spotted and pronged; a thing I'd never paid any attention to. It was a rarity, and now it was broken.

For a time Akiko wore an irritated look; a furrow appeared on her lovely forehead. I must admit it turned me on. The oddest things do.

CHAPTER 4

THE PRACTICE IS CONTAINED within two home cabinets situated at the entrance to our property, but my clients do not know there is a house beyond, nestled in the woods; Akiko's studio, as well, is invisible. Perched upon the edge of a small ravine, both appear to soar above the canopy. From within our rooms, Akiko notices and points out to me the deer, the snowy owls, and seasonal hummingbirds.

The home cabinets are well rooted to the ground by a stone path and garden, all of Akiko's design. My wife is addicted to perfection and adheres to a dogmatic system both ancient and alien to me. And beneficial. In terms of my need to dissemble, she is my greatest gift. The cabinets are impeccably set out. They are spare and they are superb. Each has its own waiting room. The cabinets both open to a hallway that leads to my own private library and office.

One of the cabinets I call Spells. I cannot enter it without my heart beating faster. The other I call Drear. If Spells is devoted to the pleasures of transgression, Drear belongs to all the rest: Lutherans, a defrocked priest, a wafer-thin old maid, a psychopath who has bungled more surgeries than he has toes, the retired night watchman who squanders his pension on whores and whose wife of forty years is suing for divorce. There is also the CEO of a local company undoubtedly responsible for my city's dramatic number of birth defects, a college professor — the most tedious of the bunch — who drones on and on about a lost inheritance and his wife's dismal affair with the family dentist. (There was once a young scholar I took a fatherly interest in and who managed to elicit real tenderness.) (Do not think me incapable of tenderness.)

Sometimes a client will move up from Drear to Spells, even after many years. There was an actress once, as rageful as a bloody axe, who over time was soothed and then began — it seemed miraculous — to flourish. One day I saw how beautiful she had become, how vigorous, how eager for the world and its delights; how desirous, also, of transgression.

I invented an excuse, claimed Drear needed to be reconfigured, and moved her to Spells. There I allowed her to seduce me: "I always," she told me on her knees, "wanted this." The affair triggered a shift in her expectations and charisma; she landed a major role downtown. That was ten years ago. And if her roles are now less glamorous, she still invites me to opening nights.

Spells is the theater where my clients and I break all the rules. And this under the banner of Mindful Subversion, Convulsive Beauty. What happens here is stunning, somehow always unique, if orchestrated. I never forget that I am dealing with people who, despite their determinisms, their needful tenderness, their pride, can at any moment decide to kill me or call their lawyers. And so Spells is oiled with solicitude and sweetness and the infinite capacity that seems to be mine to convey that each transgression is unprecedented.

To assure this impression, I have at times and after a period of months or weeks, revealed a previous violation many, many years before when I was green and still vulnerable. Such a revelation convinces the most skeptical of my good intentions, my passionate interest in them, and the anomaly our love affair represents. The lady in question, now a mistress, will assure me that my secret is safe with her, as safe as she believes she is with me. The affair remains circumscribed within the process of recovery.

I do not accept gifts — apart from the little love gifts, so like those of high school girls, I simply cannot refuse. I explain that because our lovemaking is an extension of our work together, the fee will be the same. In this way I become my client's whore. Yet I always manage to act professionally. My infatuations are in the service of knowledge. My clients love this! We fuck in the stellar radiance of knowledge and love. I am enamored of my profession.

The women are intelligent, sexy, neurotic, funny, inventive, feisty, sprightly, and they are in need of me. They do yoga, tai chi; they are in fine fettle and in great shape. They play tennis; they go to the sporting club. They get massages and go to botox parties. They are as sleek as seals.

The men … this is more complicated.

CHAPTER 5

BACK TO AKIKO.

* * *

My wife sells her curious work for astonishing amounts of money and so receives the bounty of my friendship without ambiguity. I do not "support" her and yet I do provide security, a sense of belonging, of having a place in the world. We are, after all, a couple. It never occurs to her that, as she cooks glue in her bower, I am extending the meaning, the expectations, the boundaries, and even the vocabulary of the therapeutic relationship. At the end of a long day, as I enjoy the raw oysters she has provided for my benefit, the Fanny Bays I especially appreciate, I think, I always do: Why tell her? Why torment her?

And yet there are those times I would grab her by the hair and spit it all up in her face. Her pleasure in our life sending me into a rage difficult to contain. In these moments I must drop a clue or else explode.

I tell her about a female patient's sexual interest in dangerous men; a beautiful woman, milky skin; a strawberry blonde. I watch for signs. My wife puts down her fork and grows very still.

I tell her about my concern for this patient's safety. I see Akiko's nostrils flare. My wife is gentle, rational. Coolly she says, well, of course you are concerned. This is what your work is all about. Your deep concern. For other people.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Netsuke"
by .
Copyright © 2011 Rikki Ducornet.
Excerpted by permission of COFFEE HOUSE PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Sex and psychosis are indistinguishable in this killer new novel from Ducornet. . . . [A]s fascinating as it is dirty and dark, . . . the plot is impossible to resist.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Ducornet is a novelist of ambition and scope. One is grateful for what she’s accomplished here.”—The New York Times

“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.”—Boston Globe

“’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

“[Ducornet] writes novels in delicate, precise language. . . . [Netsuke] is an introspective study of the life of a bad man—or is he a man who just keeps making bad decisions?—who can't stop abusing his power.”—The Stranger

“[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

"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

“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 reading—a searing present of heart-swallowing secrets, warped eroticism, betrayals, and insight trellised against the page in nightshade-gorgeous prose.” —Forrest Gander

“Linguistically explosive. . . . Ducornet is one of the most interesting American writers around.” —The Nation

“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 no-holds-barred language that is reminiscent of the work of the famed psychoanalyst and author Irwin D. Yalom’s novel, Lying on the Couch. Though the doctor couches all of his actions as empathetic and for the “good of his clients,” his real intentions are as transparent as glass. He is like a feral cat that has been put in charge of the hen house."—New York Journal of Books

“Rikki Ducornet travels . . . literary terrain with an assured, lyrical voice that consistently fascinates.” —Los Angeles Review

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Netsuke 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
steven03tx More than 1 year ago
Netsuke is a novel about a psychoanalyst who is as seriously disturbed as any of his patients. The unnamed subject lives in lavish prosperity in a large American city with Akiko, his Japanese-American artist wife of ten years. But the wife is completely unaware that the psychoanalyst's unquenchable lust drives him to one sexual liaison after another--sometimes with complete strangers, but more often with his own patients. The subject imagines his life as being compartmentalized into "real time"--his home and marriage--and "the interstices"--his sexual affairs--from which he draws his life's energy. This theme, a passion for order and containment, is carried through the novel. He uses a separate examining rooms, called "Drear" and "Spells," for his regular clients and those he intends to seduce. He likewise compartmentalizes his self-image by imagining himself in the role of mythological figures, and bathing obsessively to cleanse himself as he transitions from one identity to another. Together with Akiko, who shares his compulsion for order if not his promiscuity, he collects netsuke, Japanese miniature sculptures often depicting mythological and sexual themes. The psychoanalyst's attempt to confine each facet of his troubled life within walls of secrecy is threatened, however, by his own irrational risk-taking. He drops what he calls "clues" as if daring Akiko to accuse him of infidelity. Hints begin to emerge that his behavior has its roots in an abusive parent, but the psychoanalyst is unable to see in himself what he is trained to see in others, and his transgressions become only bolder and more extreme. Rikki Ducornet's prose is clean and sparse but poetic in keeping with the Japanese decor in which the novel takes place. The narrative shifts between third and first person in short chapters that reflect the idea of compartmentalization. I found Netsuke to be highly absorbing and thoughtful. There are many points of similarity between the principal character in this novel and that of Bret Easton Ellis's novel American Psycho. Anyone who enjoyed that novel will appreciate the additional insight offered by Netsuke.
laylanm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really thought I would like this book, as I generally enjoy reading about people who operate outside the bounds of what society says is normal. I was therefore very disappointed to find that I didn't like this book at all. The characters have no redeeming value whatsoever, particular the unnamed psychoanalyst at the heart of the story. He is the most megalomaniacal character I can ever recall reading, and his behavior is so far out of control that it becomes unbelievable. The book also was very short, and I felt as if none of the characters was fully actualized.
taletreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received this book through Goodreads' giveaway. This is not the kind of book I'd usually pick up--the reason being not the content, but the cover. In fact, as engrossed in the book as I was, I still couldn't help but feel the cover brought the story down. It just irritated me to say the least! As for the content, what a beautiful use of language! The plot is OK--an ironic case of a psychologist, check--lots of sex and dirty talk, check--a bit of humor here and there, and a void of what even the most "respected" person's psyche can end up being. I felt the stories the main character went through with his "clients" was a little strung out, almost as if the author was trying to brag about how often this guy got laid (the main character I mean). I did like the behavior and relationship between the main character and his wife, however, and how the clients fit into that subplot. I liked the length of the book (I love short, short chapters) and how much detail the author was able to fit into such a small literary work. As for the prose, wow! Like I said, what beautiful language the author uses. I wish I could quote her, but let me just say that a lot of metaphors concerning something grotesque end up juxtaposed with beautiful, naturesque subjects such as the ocean or wolves. While the cover would never have caught my attention, I'm so glad I read this book. Props to the author on language that both caught me off guard and made me smirk.
Eliz12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an extraordinarily curious book, filled with characters I pretty much loathed. Very dark, very odd and disturbing. There's a great deal about power and sex and loneliness. It reminds me of a painting with stark color and terrifying images that you would linger before at a museum, but wouldn't want in your own home.The story is quite basic: an obsessed therapist, sex, his artist wife and a series of patients all seemingly as enthralled with the therapist as he is himself, and all more than eager to sleep with him. (Call me too practical, but I did keep wondering: didn't a one of these many men and women ever consider calling the police, or the national board of psychiatry or whatever?)That said, Ducornet is a magnificent writer who manages to use just a few potent words where most writers would require at least 100. And unlike so many books about strange incidents and human nature, this one is not bloated or sentimental or neatly wrapped up. I read it in practically one sitting and it certainly took me out of my ordinary world and into one profoundly different from my own.
BALE on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Netsukes are tiny Japanese sculptures that reflect important aspects of Japanese folklore and life. (1) In the novella, ¿Netsuke¿ by Rikki Ducornet, they become a symbol for the life led between a pathological psychologist and his wife, Akiko. Akiko has given her husband a number of Netsuke since the time they met. They are housed in a beautiful cabinet within one of his offices (it is important to note, the doctor refers to his various offices as ¿cabinets¿). This lovely cabinet symbolizes their home, filled with quiet beauty. A home that makes it seem the couple have everything - money, beauty and love, with passion for a shared life. They do not. Akiko is simply a possession that represents the life the doctor knows he should appear to have. This is the only reason he has acquired it. One must dress, live and look trustworthy, so that you will not be suspected of what you really are. In order to maintain what has become a house of cards, the doctor must lie repeatedly. He has convinced himself that his sexual acquisitions are simply interstices, meaning the parts lived between his real life with his wife and ordered life, and the sexual deviance he craves. However, the lies he must maintain in order to enjoy these interstices take over and become life itself. The author successfully depicts this with the lyrical prose of a master builder. As the story develops, the reader anticipates a peak moment where the seed of her direction will be revealed with extraordinary verse. Yet it does not. The meter-or that is rapidly descending out of the sky, ready to explode, dissipates before impact and the reader is left wondering, what just happened. This does not diminish the value of the author¿s writing before her ending. It simply leaves the reader wanting more, in the style and originality that fueled the first three-quarters of her, otherwise, intriguing novella.1 ¿ ¿Netsuke.¿ Wikipedia. 2011. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.. 25, May, 2011
rentie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I admit that it was a quick read, but I was expecting a different kind of a book. It was a little to off kilter and risque for my taste.
speedy74 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As I read this book, I didn¿t know whether to be repulsed by the characters or intrigued by the author¿s lyrical prose. The characters are easy to loath as the unnamed psychoanalyst seeks numerous sexual encounters with his clients, and then drops hints to his wife about these relationships. One thing I found frustrating about the main character is that he is only developed in terms of his unethical actions, but not in a way that helps the reader understand how he has come to this path in his life. The psychoanalyst¿s wife is also repulsive in the way she ¿knows¿ about her husband¿s actions and does not act upon them. She seems to wilt under his multiple transgressions. I was angry at her for not being a stronger woman and confronting him about his affairs, or at least try to ¿catch¿ him. Her only reaction seems to be to do things she thinks will please him and to be hurt when these actions do not have their intended effect. The power he seems to have over her made him even more sickening as a character. Conversely, the book¿s number one redeeming quality is the lyrical prose the writer employs. The writer¿s sentence structure and word choice make her prose urgent yet somehow mysterious with its mythical allusions and frequent use of symbols. These elements make Netsuke an interesting book choice for a college course or book club as readers work to decipher its deeper meaning. While I didn¿t find this book to be an enjoyable read¿it somehow haunts me.
bobbieharv on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was so pleased to have received this book as an Early Reviewer, and so much looking forward to reading it, and was quite disappointed to find myself so disappointed by it.And yet, the reason is a bit paradoxical - I wanted more of it. It's a surface treatment of a complicated man, his complicated marriage, his complicated (to say the least) relationships with the patients he seduces, and of those patients themselves. If I were her editor I would say: keep the writing the same, but give us more in-depth treatment (yes, pun) of each of those four things. Keep the shifts in point of view (in 127 pages, sometimes within one tiny chapter, she writes from inside the analyst, then his wife, and then two of his patients - this is disorienting, to say the least), but expand them - and, preferably, keep them separate, in separate chapters or even separate Parts.Fascinating topic but execution an extreme letdown.
michaelg16 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"I was bred in anger, born and bred to rage. I eat away at the ripe flesh of things like a wasp eats away at the body of a fig, leaving it to rot." The psychoanalyst at the heart of this odd powerful novel speaks these words - not, as one would expect, one of his patients. Rikki Ducornet has a small and loyal readership through poems short fiction and novels, like this one, and really deserves far more based on style and thoughtfulness alone. Netsuke are small beautifully rendered Japanese jade animal pieces that contain hidden glimpses in to a society and an artistry that can be subtle to the point of disappearance. The odd and difficult "plot" of this novel is not unlike that. Is one meant to understand the therapist and his highly suspect - and certainly unethical actions? Or are we to engage him in our internal dialogue and see if the fullness of this story yields some smaller exquisite "meanings" that we can only enjoy in the deepest and most private part of our own psyche? I can only say that this is a harrowing tale told by a harrowing voice and reads quickly and yes - sexily - though I am somewhat unconvinced that the author wants us to like anything but the craftily constructed prose.
kmboyett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Can't say I was a big fan of this book. While it should have been more of a study of a man's psychological breakdown, it was instead a disjointed, rambling frenzy.
ellenflorman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought the premise of this book was promising- a psychoanalyst who operates outside of the bounds of personal and professional ethics. He sleeps with his patients and then feels compelled to drop "hints" about his exploits to his wife. As I read, however, I found that I despised the characters- especially the unamed psychoanalyst. I didn't get a complete enough analysis as to why this man is such a miserable exxcuse for a human being. His wife's passivity and refusal to confront him was frustrating to watch. I also found it somewhat unbelievable that none of his sexual conquests felt compelled to report him to the authorities. The story just did not seem believable.
tlm0000 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my first experience with Rikki Ducornet. I loved the flow of the language. It's written as if the author is writing as the characters brain thinks. I think this is a glimpse into self importance and narcissism of a Doctor and what happens to a person who has no accountability for his actions and seeks only to fulfill his own wants.Good book, quick read, but definitely not for everyone.
IsolaBlue on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Perfect because the volume is slim yet heavy, the 127 pages of Netsuke are as intricately carved as the tiny Asian art pieces for which they are named. Rikki Ducornet has shown us the culmination of a writer's flight to mastery: perhaps no one has ever said so much in so few words. Netsuke is an intimate look into the mind of a man (in this case, a psychoanalyst) who preys (and plays) upon those who come to him for help. Tortured minds and tortured souls are turned into the sex toys of the doctor whose work life is compartmentalized into two rooms - Drear for the patients who bore him and Spells for the patients who become his focus, fascination, and - ultimately - his victims. Yet somehow the doctor's victims never quite come across as the standard folks we read about in newspaper accounts. They may be unhappy, at times destructive, a strange blend of crafty and insane, but ultimately they are stronger than the doctor, stronger than his all-knowing, all-wonderful persona. He is selfish, yes. He likes to control; he enjoys power. But - ultimately? How does one who has studied the human mind, the human psyche - how does that person live with himself when he examines his own betrayal? Netsuke is much more than a look into the crimes of a psychoanalyst. It is also a novella that examines the role of the traditional modern wife (in this case the wife, an artist, has her art career and her own money in addition to enjoying her prestige as the doctor's wife and enjoying his money as well) and brings up issues of expectations within marriage, the strange inability to communicate within couples, and passivity born of fear, upbringing, or a possible desire to close out the unthinkable. Ducornet's miniature book is a triumph of words, but readers should prepare themselves for walking along the edge of a razor blade as they read. It hurts to read, but one keeps reading because the suspense is great and we become as addicted to the narrator's play as he is. We keep on the tightrope of the razor blade until the last unforgettable word.
the_darling_copilots on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a book that I wanted to like, based on the description, but found lacking in emotional weight and psychological depth. The interior monologues of the main character are silly and strained, making it seem that the author created a plot and characters that she found beautiful and interesting and then tried to force an interior psychology into it.That said, Netsuke would be good summer reading. Sitting on a beach under the hot sun reading this book, cocktail in hand, Ducornet¿s florid and self-consciously precious language would probably distract you sufficiently from the plot and characters--which I found shallow and uninteresting during the chilly damp Pacific Northwest spring when I read it. Oh well.
RachelPenso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is about a psychoanalyst who has a nasty habit of seducing his patients. I was really unsure what rating to give this book. It was very dark and not at all enjoyable, but definitely interesting. The main character had not a single likable thing about him and I felt frustrated that his sweet and caring wife had wasted so much time being with him. The book was barely over one hundred pages, which is good. I don't think I could have read two hundred plus pages of that story.
DeDeNoel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
To be honest, I found this novel kind of hard to read. It was at times very boring and lengthy. None of the characters were relatable to me and I just couldn't get into it.
kanadani on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A short, tightly-written story about a psychologist as he observes his own spiral of self-destruction. Unfortunately the book was not to my taste. I found the POV changes off-putting and while I normally find despicable characters fun to read I could not find any sympathy or curiosity that would cause me to keep my attention. However, it was tightly-written and despite the short length of the book it told its story with great detail and a gallery of character studies to pick from.
wrmjr66 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
**semi spoilers below**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.
melmmo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As much blame as other readers place on Akiko, I believe that she is a product of her culture and blameless. To me, this is a truly beautiful novel (novella?), as the prose is so beautiful, and the story speaks nothing but the truth. While it is dark, to me it was also inspired. Artful. I want to read it again and again, but for the first time, and I only wish it were longer.
beckylynn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Horrible. The writing, the story, the characters, all of it. Yes, I know, seems a little much, but that's truly how I feel. However, in saying those things, I did finish the book. Often times when their this bad I don't waste my time on them, but I had to see this one out. The writing alone was painful, hard to follow, and it seemed the author was trying to make it confusing. There was absolutely no character development and what little you learned about them, it was contradicted later in the story. Basically, the entire time your asking yourself, is this man going to stay with his wife, continue cheating, and get away with it? Will he do the right thing and leave his wife to pursure these other women? Or will he say screw it and continue on the same path he's on? Don't bother, because there's what I call an 'M. Night Shamalyn' ending that is strangely predictable...
MRShemery on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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 down into four sections. Instead, I'm just going to do a regular review:Starting off, we are introduced to a psychoanalyst whose name we do not know. Right away, we are aware of his somewhat disturbing sexual appetite ... whether it is with a random woman while jogging, a patient who's known as 'The Cutter' or a transvestite.As the story progresses and we encounter deeper recesses of the doctor's mind, it becomes apparent that, perhaps, the doctor is in need of a psychoanalyst himself. His sexual encounters endanger the relationship he has built with his wife, Akiko. His obsession with these encounters becomes so much that he acquires a new office space in town to better facilitate these bizarre activities.Part two of the book introduces us to Akiko, the doctor's wife who is an artist. I believe she knew all along what the doctor was up to, but chose to turn a blind eye in the hopes that he would be able to stop the acidic relationships on his own.By the end, it was never said if the doctor and Akiko stayed together or not, but the ending definitely gave you a strong sense of where their relationship was heading.This book, though short, was definitely different. It's the type of story that sticks with you in the back of your mind long after you've finished reading it. If you're looking for a book that is a quick read, but gives you an deep intimate look into the mind of serious sexaholic, then this would be the book for you.
IandSsmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is one that will have you thinking!! It is short so a quick read but so much to take in and think about. The book is way more psychological then erotic as the description has so don't let that put you off reading it. It is a must read!!!
knomad on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A netsuke is a small beautifully crafted container for personal items that one would hang from ones kimono. Keeping ones personal identity abstracted from your physical body. Ornamenting the ordinary every day object by enclosng them in highly crafted containers that expressed the merit of the owner. Is the main character in this novel a Netsuke(?) - or is the novel itself a Netsuke(?) - both perhaps. Very well polished prose that encloses and keeps seperate the emotional and personal identities of the character and the book itself - turning both into objects that stand apart from themselves and their meanings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago