Real World by Natsuo Kirino
"MacKaye's lyrical approach had changed dramatically in the two years since Minor Threat. He wasn't railing against teenage hypocrites, bullies, and poseurs anymore - the subject of his songs was often himself."
"As the postmodernists would remind us, we have stuff, we have signs for stuff, and we have symbols of signs."
"With no armor, and no shielding of any kind, we were totally exposed. Our vehicle was like an elephant wandering past the lions' den, holding the tail of the Bradley in front of it. An IED would kill us all."
"Having reached this conclusion, the limbic system sends an all-clear signal to the reptilian brain, and you find yourself walking toward the intruder with open arms."
Picasso or a Kurosawa by any means, the more I read Natsuo Kirino's "Real World" the more I felt like I was wandering through a Cubist painting with "Rashomon" playing on a black and white TV in the cultural background.
At the center are four teenage friends. Surrounding them are their families, their prehistories, an outsider, a few peripheral connections, and an abrupt circumstance. What begins as a relatively straight-forward narrative with flashbacks to the past casually slips into n-dimensional space when the first persona shift sneaks up pleasantly from behind.
I got into an argument with a friend at Mirth Cafe recently in which I claimed that every human being was capable of great evil and great good but that most of us spent most of our time in the comfortable middle of the bell curve (the opposing viewpoint was that some people just don't "have it in them" to commit murder, for example). This novel examines those places and times where people find themselves suddenly and gradually near the extremes of that distribution. Or rather, it uses those situations as a seer would a crystal ball to glimpse how our minds and relationships work out at the edges of everyday experience.