At 169 pages, it is a very short read and I’d think from the cover and title, this book is for kids but actually, it is aimed at adults. Scraggy was born in a litter of eight, being the strangest colored puppy in the litter with the most distinctive appearance. Unlike her mother and father, Scraggy bear a thick and curly black colored pelt which had probably came down from the dominate recessive gene rule. She wasn’t the most attractive puppy, but she was the one that could cause people to give her a second glance.
Scraggy’s owners were Grandpa and Grandma Screecher, who bred dogs for money. Scraggy–who was still a puppy then–had to watch in confusion as one by one, her remaining surviving siblings were taken away by people. From the start of her life, Scraggy had already had it hard. Her mother was described to shun her out as an outsider, and at least two of her litter-mates did not survive their puppyhood. She was also easily tormented by the cat next door. At a young age, Scraggy was forced to learn about the cycle of life. Scraggly learned that love and truth weren’t always wrapped up in the nicest of packages.
When I pulled out this book from its package and read the synopsis in the back of it, I realized in five heartbeats that this book was going to be a gay romance book. I pretty much had bad experiences reading romance books in the past (I mean, I don’t like Fault in our Stars, like every other normal person on this earth) and at that point, I do support LGBT relationships. Except that I wasn’t quite ready yet to read a novel about it.
But the cover of the novel itself was crammed with a lot of awards. There was the Stonewall book award, the Pure Belpre award, the Lambda Literary Award and the Micheal Printz award, meaning that this is a very promising book. So I walked over to the nearest sofa, and curled up, book in hand and begun to read.
I’ve read a few Japanese novels over these past few years, like Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide, or Goodbye Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto, and have done many critical comparison blog posts of Japanese literature and American literature. Every time I finish reading a book written by an American author, and immediately read a novel by a Japanese author, I could sense the difference.
I did a small amount of research about the novel itself, and I found out that this book is one of the most popular books in Japan, to the point where its used in many Japanese schools. Jiro Taniguchi had adapted parts of this small novel into a ten part volume series, published in Japan at 1986. This book had gone worldwide, with many other translations such as French and Spanish. There is a film adaptation, and an anime adaptation of this book too. Comparing this to American literature, if it has gone world wide enough, it would gain the title ‘best-seller’ and eventually will win an award, or become adapted into a movie.
Let’s be honest here. How many books that has reached the top 100 greatest novels ever were neither American nor European? I checked out this list, and I barely found books written outside Europe and America. I believe literature books that had originated from Asia and the Middle East should gain more popularity around the world. I’m emphasizing the word ‘literature’ here. If I ask someone to tell me a name of a book originated from Japan, I am pretty certain the answer would be the comic, or as they call it manga. So what happened to Bot Chan and Guest Cat? Only people who actually hunts for literary books will find them eventually. Can’t they be everywhere too?
Everyone is insane in their own way, at least, that’s my opinion. It could be physically insane, like all those in the loony bin, a.k.a insane alyssum, or they could be mentally insane, stressed out after an entire days of long work and just want to throw it out on someone. Tsugumi had been sickly from the day she was born and was told by the doctors again and again that she would never survive. But she pulled through, after long periods of fighting through lots of fevers. You would expect a sickly kid like that to be overly submissive, weak, and just plain timid. But that’s the exact opposite of Tsugumi. She’s spoiled rotten, and was prone to love saying things at the wrong time.
To her cousin, Maria, who narrated the whole story, Tsugumi was two faced in many ways. In front of her school friends and guys, she’s shy and graceful. But in front of her family and cousins, she’s the devil. A pure living Satan. Her tantrums were something almost always common making her always got what she wanted. To worsen things, Tsugumi’s parents and sister were amazingly patient people. They didn’t retaliate to Tsugumi’s attitude and personality. They pampered her even more.
This story is a fantasy novel, a kind of a fairy tale twisted and turned, until it resembles nothing but horror. The happy ending which (always) was expected… all gone. This is the fifth Neil Gaiman book I’ve read. It is one of those I liked best aside from Coraline, of course. I have been a big fans of Neil Gaiman since I was nine years old.
Do people believe in magic? I’ve recently watched a movie called ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ a fantasy story, which brings me to a world full of hidden magic. Only that, most people don’t believe in magic. Ofelia, the hero, tried to bring it up, but all she received was wondering eyes from adults and questioning looks of whether something was wrong with her. They lacked the power to believe. It is also mentioned in Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. After many years, everybody would get buried down under the rabbit’s fur. We’re all so comfortable, we would start picking up our own routine. We would never questioning things, trapped in a world where we expect everything to stay normal and panicking at every sign of strangeness.
Please, people! Don’t lose your sparkle.