from One Thousand One-Second Stories
Translated from the Japanese by Tricia Vita
On Eating a Star
One evening a whitish substance was falling onto the veranda When I put it in my mouth it had a cool milky flavor I was wondering what it could be when all of a sudden I was shoved down onto the pavement Just then a starlike object flew out of mouth dragged its tail over the rooftops and disappeared without a trace
An Incident at the Concert
The North Star Fantasy Concerto was getting underway when yellow smoke whirled up with a clap from the center of the orchestra It spread throughout the hall
Just what happened? Since the people who'd come to the concert hall had vanished for no apparent reason this mystery was perhaps an effect at nightfall probably as a result of the sky being crammed with stardust or so went the generally accepted explanation
Tour du Chat-noir
At an hour when the moon was rising I was walking around the perimeter of a dark cone-shaped tower when I heard a click and fell into pitch blackness or so it seemed as I entered the tower Floor and wall alike were painted with an odd geometrical pattern Right in the middle on top of a round table sat a black cat Just when I thought of touching it I heard a switch flick on and the tower began turning round and round Inch by inch it grew narrower I was tossed about in a red and yellow vortex and forced up into the apex of the cone when Pong! I was flung out In midair I did two or three somersaults and got hooked on an electric line but the wire broke and I dropped onto a passing horsecart
Star or Firecracker?
One evening while singing Rule Brittania I tossed my hat up in the air It struck a star A single star fell with a clink onto the brick pavement I picked up a white object that had fallen nearby and went over to a gaslight Just as I was examining it and wondering whether to keep it as a medallion it crackled and burst
On Making Bread Out of Stars
Late at night above the city streets I came across the most beautiful stars Because no one was up and about I snatched three stars from the top of a wall whereupon footsteps sounded from behind When I turned round Mr. Moon was standing there
A Dose of Speed
Late one evening as I was leaving a bar, the bartender said, "Have a nip of this!" and handed me a bottle wrapped in newspaper.
Why Did He Become a Smoker?
"Mr. Moon's triangular" said a young man
English language copyright ©1998 by Tricia Vita
Dubbed by the Japanese as "the 21st Century's Dandy," Inagaki Taruho wrote short and incredibly concentrated stories of his favorite things: machines, airplanes, modern fairies, Saturn, falling stars, the tin moon, geometrical shapes, boys, policemen, aromatic Turkish cigarettes, black cats who turn into smoke, crashing comets, gay bars, and numerous other subjects. Writing from the 1920s to the 1970s, Inagaki is a true original, seen by many Japanese as the equal in talent to Tanizaki, Kawabata, and Mishimi, and as one of the great Japanese writers of the 20th century.