Review of Junichiro Tanizaki’s Devils in Daylight appearing in Riot Material.
“I would call back at least for literature this world of shadows we are losing. In the mansion called literature I would have the eaves deep and the walls dark, I would push back into the shadows the thing that come forward too clearly, I would strip away the useless decoration. I do not ask that this be done everywhere, but perhaps we may be allowed at least one mansion where we can turn off the electric lights and see what it is like without them.”– Junichiro Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows
Early 20thcentury, Japan. You, caped in shadows, find yourself watching two men who are watching, through a grainy peephole, two other people, a man and a woman, who are seemingly killing another man. The entire thing is busy, complex, furtive; erotic in its staggered geometry. Outside, where you are and where you aren’t, the rain-slicked street holds tiny concentric halos of light projected out from the window of an Inn that dizzies its patrons with licentious allure, while Rockwell’s paranoia blares from a jukebox — It always feels like somebody’s watching me, tell me is it just a dream — and you can’t help but look over your shoulder as you see a lantern-eyed black cat, smiling. Mind you, the song and the jukebox haven’t been invented yet, and Rockwell lingers as a figment awaiting popstar iteration, but still, they are there, this is happening, a confluence of elements, which includes you and five other people (one of them now very much dead), and the whole thing gets you thinking about the dreamlike immediacy of voyeurism, or the pyramidic folds of role-playing. You have entered that place between realms, where the novelist Junichiro Tanizaki so comfortably dwells.
Originally from Brooklyn, NY, writer, poet, spoken word performer, and playwright, John Biscello now lives in Taos, New Mexico. He is the author of three novels: Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale, Raking the Dust, and Nocturne Variations, and a collection of stories, Freeze Tag.
His fiction and poetry has appeared in: Art Times, nthposition, The Wanderlust Review, Ophelia Street, Caper, Polyphony, Dilate, Militant Roger, Chokecherries, Farmhouse, BENT, The 555 Collective, Instigator, Brass Sopaipilla, The Iconoclast, Adobe Walls, Kansas City Voices, and the Tishman Review. His blog--Notes of an Urban Stray--can be read at johnbiscello.blogspot.com. Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale was named Underground Book Reviews 2014 Book of the Year.