“The sound of falling rain washed into the room like a wave, drowning out the lonely cry of the crooner’s trumpet over the sound system.”
Kaito and Takako own and run a jazz club in Tokyo – “The Low Point”, red and blue neon lights pointing the way down the steps to the entrance. They are in financial trouble, worried and anxious about how to keep up their loan repayments. They try to keep the business going by hiring a singer – they are looking for someone really good to bring in the crowds and they find the beautiful Mikako. They have a regular customer, an American, known as Rich, a good-looking, blonde-haired man with an eye patch who lives in an apartment close by. He sits at a corner table and writes in a leather-covered journal while he drinks and smokes heavily. We see from his writings that his heart is broken but we don’t know why. When he hears Mikako singing for the first time he is immediately attracted to her and it soon becomes apparent that she returns the compliment. However, while leaning over his balcony one evening Rich spots a heavy-set man in black following her from the club.
The main characters:
Rich, the American writes of love and loss in his journal but you can see from his writings that it isn’t just a love affair gone wrong – it is a lot heavier than that:
“And how is it that the root of both physical and emotional suffering originates from the same location in the brain, for, can the swift agony of a broken femur ever compare to the eternal aching of a broken heart?”
His melancholy never lifts; he feeds it with whiskey and cigarettes, but he is polite and friendly and helpful, and he becomes very fond of the club owners. You get the impression as you read that he could be very good company if he wasn’t so sad.
Takako is a dote; you’d have to like her. She is loving and happy, giddy and determined; she wants everyone else to be happy too; sometimes she isn’t very tactful but she gets away with it. No one could be angry with her.
Her boyfriend, Kaito tolerates her enthusiasms with fondness and amusement but he is terribly worried about the future and he works hard to secure it for both of them.
Mikako, the beautiful, elegant, talented singer brings changes to all their lives. Rich is half in love with her, and she brings in a huge crowd, which thrills Kaito and Takako; for the moment their worries are over.
This book is called “Rainy Season” and rain permeates the whole novel, as if the whole story was contained inside the rain – and I loved this. Here’s a picture of Rich, leaning over his balcony as usual:
“He leaned against the rail and smoked and watched the shadowed, glistening city as it slept within the downpour.”
I found the writing lyrical and rhythmic; words repeated making the prose like music. Indeed, I thought at one time, if I had a tune I could sing this book:
“Candlelight shimmered off her black sequin dress like the promise of a million stars.”
The writer uses many lovely adjectives. I have often heard that adjectives and adverbs should never be used. Bad advice. Should writing be plain and colourless? Look at Dickens – where would he have been with no adjectives, he often uses several in a single sentence!
This is a book that would make you want to go to Tokyo, to drink whiskey in “The Low Point”, to chat with Kaito and Takako, and to watch the endless rain reflected in the neon lights and on the dark, wet streets of the city. The cover is great too – it almost tells the story. One last quote:
“He set his can of beer down slowly, carefully, and strained to listen through the hard-falling rain. But all he could hear were the sounds beneath him of tires hissing on wet asphalt and heels clicking on wet concrete.”
I happily give this book 5 Stars.