This is one of the books recommended by Guillermo del Toro on Twitter.
The stories in this book were not as scary as I thought they would be. There were no spine-chilling ghosts or murderers lurking behind a window, all images that were swirling in my head as I began reading in my bed that night. The stories in here are mostly about the moral failings of flawed human beings. The main characters mostly think they can get away with the perfect crime, but usually something will trip them up and we see them learn their lesson.
There are eleven stories in all. My favorites are The Human Chair and The Caterpillar. The Human Chair is about a writer who receives an unsolicited manuscript from a furniture maker. The furniture maker tells her about his obsession with a chair he made, so obsessed that he decided to device a way in which he could squeeze himself inside the chair and experience what the chair would experience, essentially being the chair. During the day he’s inside the chair, observing and recording the comings and goings of people around him and at night he would steal things and food from the chair’s owners. After a few years, the chair is finally sold to a wealthy man who gifts it to his wife. She loved the chair and would use it everyday. The furniture maker, squeezed inside the chair, falls in love with the wealthy man’s wife and tries to find a way to tell her.
The Caterpillar was quite creepy and subversive. A soldier who lost both arms and legs is cared for by his wife in a remote area in his former general’s compound. He is described as a caterpillar, the amputation was so close to his body, there were not even stumps indicating where his limbs used to be. At first, the wife was patient and caring but with many years of caring for a useless husband, she became cruel and abusive. The cover of the book is an illustration of the moment when the wife regrets her actions and tries to mend the error of her ways.
Edogawa Rampo is a nom de plume chosen by Hirai Taro. It is the Japanese phonetic spelling of Edgar Allan Poe. Rampo is Japan’s first and most famous mystery writer. The writing style is definitely akin to Edgar Allan Poe, full of dark gothic traits and foreboding doom. Some of the stories are so short I wanted to know more.