One Thousand and One-Second Stories
"Consisting almost entirely of pieces written during the 1920s, this collection brings the eccentric, influential work of Taruho into English for the first time…Taruho creates an original, odd, delightful world in which almost anything can happen. This publication of Taruho's work offers a valuable glimpse into the mind of an unusual Japanese writer better known in his own country than abroad, of whom the more exportable Yukio Mishima observed, 'There is Before Taruho and After Taruho.' Vita provides an informative biographical and literary introduction."
"The first English translation of a highly praised Japanese miniaturist…collects dozens of teasingly brief 'stories' (many of which are very fragmentary distillations of simple observations) written during the 1920s and '30s… when [Inagaki's] imagination glides into overdrive (as in the stories featuring 'Mr. Moon,' a recurring figure who's a quirky compound of divinity and trickster), his sketchy fictions assume a comic lunacy. Though the later pieces, which eerily reflect the distracted quality of a world plunging into global war, are somewhat more substantial, Inagaki's best are cosmic satirical fantasies…that blithely dramatize the inexplicable juxtaposition of mundane (and sometimes interstellar) high-flying realities."
"Taruho Inagaki (1900-77) was an avant-garde artist and writer whose early work reflected his fascination with the inventions that shaped the modern world, especially the airplane and the cinema. His first book, One Thousand and One-Second Stories, published in Japan in 1923, is a collection of Dadaesque sketches so brief that most of them don't make it to a second page. To these early stories, the translator, Tricia Vita, has added subsequent writings on similar themes... [Inagaki's] first works are full of antic celestial bodies---including shooting stars that hurtle to earth, only to be transformed into everyday objects, and a droll rotund character named Mr. Moon, who likes to descend for a drink and stir up trouble. These whimsical sketches are colorful and amusing, a mixture of vaudeville slapstick and primitive cartoon...but his later work---in which he began to explore the implications of his vision---is much more interesting. Nothing is as it seems, Inagaki is saying, and nonsense has a value."
---David Guy, The New York Times Book Review
"This year we have a substantial selection of [Taruho's] early writings in English translation in One Thousand and One-Second Stories. As translator Tricia Vita notes, before her book only one story of his, 'Icarus,' had been translated into English, so here is an epochal book…These pieces were written at the heady time called Taisho Democracy, when it was felt, at least by some, that even the Great Kanto Earthquake, of 1923, could only provide an impetus for something new… Many of these pieces---along with some in the small selection from later writings---retain, despite---or because of---their slapdash tone, the kind of freshness we expect from the Futurist, Dadaist, Surrealist and Expressionist writings of the period."
---Hiroaki Sato, The Japan Times