AUTHOR: Ryu Murakami
PUBLISHED: 1997 (Japan); 2009 (English translation)
PUBLISHER: W.W. Norton & Company
Quote: “Advertising departments, as you know, are crawling with people whose frontal lobes are so underdeveloped that if you flatter them a bit they'll swear shit is platinum.”
Overview: Aoyama, a documentary filmmaker, lives with his son Shige. His wife died several years earlier and he hasn't had so much as a date since her death. Yoshikawa, Aoyama's close friend, hatches a plan for Aoyama to meet a nice woman. They will hold fake film auditions for young women, who of course have no clue they are in truth auditioning for Aoyama's interest. Only one girl among thousands stands out - Yamasaki Asami. She comes off as quiet and modest, and, of course, beautiful. She is an ex-ballerina with an unknown past.
While there are signs sprinkled throughout that Yamasaki has been hiding something, or that not all is as it should be, Aoyama refuses to look past her beauty as he falls deeply in love with her, or so he thinks. Unfortunately, the truth must come out sooner or later. And it does.
Analysis: If you are a fan of horror, thriller, slasher books, etc., this is the one for you. It is a short, quick read that is filled to the brim with a great story and unassuming characters. It's one of those books in which you know something is coming but you don't know where or when and you want to speed through it just to get to the bottom of it all.
I loved the setting of the story in Japan and the human qualities of the characters. It's easy to see a bit of the reader in all of the characters, both the rational and the irrational, and it causes the reader to think how close we all might be to the edge. The human mind and body can only withstand so much before it breaks. The true horror that this story provokes is that all of the events lie in the realm of reality.
Conclusion: Audition is disturbing and realistic and will probably be in the back of your mind on the next first date you're on, or maybe your first weekend trip with your new fling.