Reviews for Suicide Forest
Mislav chapter 1 . 3/31
Pretty dark and chilling, yet moving story, with great characterization and attention to details. I liked how you started with the petty thief in the woods, describing his background and motivation (searching suicide forest to find suicide victims you can steal from; that's a new low), led it up to the discovery of the body (great, gory description), then you gave us the victim's backstory, and then you switched back to Hikimori, and delivered a shocking twist (more of a reveal) at the end. I definitely didn't expect that. It really got to me. I also liked how you provided the clues about the reveal at the beginning of the story, but not enough to make it obvious. Quite scary-and sad-how life can easily take a turn for the worse, even once you've gotten through the hard times already, and how interlinked/connected people can be. Good note about how useless those signs offering encouragement and numbers to suicide prevention lines seemed to Kazuo. I shudder to think what will become of his poor wife and child. The last line was haunting. Keep up the great work. You are very talented. I always like reading your stories.
She Who Loves Pineapples II chapter 1 . 3/14/2019
Wow. I kind of feel like I should have expected that but I didn’t. Great short story! Though I will say, with talk of Little League and stuff, the dead man’s past feels so American.
Henry Palmetto chapter 1 . 9/17/2017
"Suicide Forest" is set in the dense and infamous Aokigahara forest, a place where every year more than a hundred people end their lives. The story follows the elderly Hikimori as he scavenges valuables off new victims. One of these victims, a prosperous-looking businessman, is revealed to be Hikimori's estranged son and the discovery prompts Hikimori to reevaluate his life.

This is a simple and effective fable which for the most part you handle very well. I imagine handling a subject like the suicide forest with all its drama could lead to mawkish and cheap tragedy, but Hikimori's revelation (minus the penultimate paragraph beginning with "Hikimori wondered", which is unnecessary) is smartly downplayed.

As in several of your other stories (the one with the abused dog, whose name I've forgotten), the theme here focuses on the relation between positive appearances and tragic interiors. Hikimori and Kazuo are both victims of fate which they are powerless to question: they represent the moral of taking responsibility for one's actions. Since their purpose is entirely dictated by plot, they don't need much character outside bare essentials: things like the suicide song (at night we ride through mansions etc.) and interpreting psychology (hurt and confused by son's condition) can go.

The writing suffers from two major defects: an abundance of purple prose, and an inconsistent narrator.

Purple prose is this: "Nothing left but the pain and cold, miserable life." I understand what you want as an image of supreme bleakness, but "pain and cold miserable life" sounds cheap and tawdry.

Also, eliminating canned phrases will help the prose breathe: things like "stark contrast," "as if physically struck," "strangulating gloom," waste space and convey nothing. Finally, be careful when introducing foreign language: if it is necessary, go for it, but you write this: "Kazuo had run out of Ikigao, his reason for being." There is absolutely no sense in introducing a word and then defining it for: choose one or the other, word or definition.

Most of this story is backstory, and the backstory is introduced like this: "If the hanged man could speak..." This is sloppy and bases the whole story on a rather silly what-if. If you're committed to dedicating so much space to Kazuo's backstory, you need a better framing device. Better if Kazuo wrote it all down in a letter or left a voicemail. Better still if Kazuo was still alive enough to deliver the whole thing face-to-face. Anything you can do to minimize the narrator's presence is beneficial.

Thank you for the read
God Speaking chapter 1 . 9/9/2017
I love this story! Although brief, it is very succinct and clearly expresses what it wants to be. It is highly-descriptive from start to finish, I easily got engrossed in the world you are building. The twist and killer ending line made the whole piece even better. I also like that you used bits of Japanese culture to make a believable, well-paced, and haunting story.
Any flaws I point out will merely be nitpicking, you got writing down pat. Kudos to you.
TheBeastlyPrincess chapter 1 . 9/8/2017
Okay from my perspective I think you need to simplify the language in the first paragraph, as it is very dense and complex and I think you are at risk of losing the audiences attention in the first part. Trying using shorter sentences.
Nice job describing him, it gives me a good picture of the kind of character he is and the adjectives you used are effective and not cliche.
Woah! Okay reading it I wasn't sure where you were going, but I liked it when you mention that it was a popular suicide place, the way you described it hit really hard, because the character seems almost indifferent, but you still give the reader the sense of the sorrow behind all the people's deaths.
Very nice final line, good impact and it draws the reader back into the overall theme. I do wonder what this story was inspired by because I get the feeling that it carries some meaning to you, this is a good thing, it means that to the reader it feels real, and that is a hard thing to achieve, very nice impacting piece, keep up the good work!

TheBeastlyPrincess
Electrumwriter chapter 1 . 9/2/2017
Hikimori’s story packs a lot of information in, but it reads well. It’s certainly interesting to read about this Aokigahara Forest. I think I like the sound of the ice caves most of all although I appreciate your attention to detail with the woodland environment – roots snaked their way above ground in treacherous threads as if they were crawling.

Hikimori’s job is rather like the role of a hyena or vulture. It’s a shame there is no way Hikimori could ascertain all the details of Kazuo’s life story. Maybe he should have had a book about his person like that old woman had done and it could have included the main points of his biography and that way the story could be third person limited POV. I’m just saying, ‘cause taking the role of an omniscient narrator is shouldering a lot of responsibility.

It sounds like he was doing better than Hikimori. If you don’t sunburn easily, then working outside by the sea might have its perks. When I was little, it was actually one of my dream jobs, but I do burn too easily. I applaud your effort at keeping up the sea image with “his life began to flow as gentle as the ocean currents,” even though the currents lead up to a tragedy that is slightly painful to read about… so sad that Kenta has the learning disabilities and his parents did not seem to have the skill-set to handle it. The scene with the son and grandmother at the low table has a certain poignancy…