In a Grove

2 08 2012

In a Grove is a Japanese mystery story written in 1922 by Ryunosuke Akutagawa.  

It is perhaps the coolest mysteries ever written.  The story is a series of interviews – a police detective getting the story from a series of witnesses to the murder of a samurai in the middle of a bamboo grove.

A local woodcutter begins by telling his account of the murder, based on what he saw as he stumbled across the dead man in the forest.

Next, a priest that saw the samurai earlier in the day traveling with his wife, tells the police what he saw. Some of what he says matches the story of the woodcutter, but there are a few small discrepancies.

The rest of the story gives different accounts of what people saw that day.  We hear from a bounty hunter, an old woman, a criminal, the dead man’s wife, and the dead man’s ghost.  Each story confirms some of what we heard earlier, but contradicts other aspects of the testimonies.

The idea of the story is to make you think about truth and people’s ability to give an objective version of events.  Even though it’s only about 20 pages long, this is one of those stories that really makes you think, and probably one that many people will want to read again and again.

In my quest to read 90 books in 90 days this summer, this was book #48.  

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