In the Woods of Memory tells of the rape of a teenage girl during the American occupation after the Battle of Okinawa and the subsequent attack on an American soldier by a young Japanese fisherman. Though the novel begins in 1945, most of it takes place sixty years later as Medoruma places us in the perspectives of nine Japanese and American characters, bridging the events across time. The novel’s real power unfolds as readers merge its events together on their own, pinnacling in the stream-of-consciousness Seiji chapter (originally written using Okinawan dialect) that evokes the most powerful modernist fiction.
In the Woods of Memory at Stone Bridge Press
I found Mrs. Dalloway more accessible than other Virginia Woolf novels I’ve read, possibly because it’s also shorter. The stream-of-consciousness novel shows a day in the life of a fiftysomething socialite reflecting on the mundanity of her married life, the passionate love of her youth, and her deeply hidden feelings for a female friend. My favorite scenes, though, were the surreal and hard-hitting takes on WWI shell shock in the hallucinatory ramblings of ex-soldier Septimus Warren Smith.
There’s a lot to like here, but it’s still high modernism and can get…dense.
Where I Got It
From a grad school friend who had two copies, Summer 2015.
Virginia Woolf on Wikipedia
Virginia Woolf Was More Than Just a Women’s Writer (essay)