Book//mark – Hotel Iris | Yōko Ogawa, 1996

 Hotel Iris, 1996                                                                                                           Yōko Ogawa

”My senses seem sharpest when the guests are all checked in, settled in their rooms getting ready for bed. From my stool behind the desk, I can hear and smell and feel everything happening in the hotel. I can’t say I have much experience or even any real desires of my own, but just by shutting myself up behind the desk, I can imagine every scene being played out by the people spending the night at the Iris. Then I erase them one by one and find a quiet place to lie down and sleep.”

”He had undressed me with great skill, his movements no less elegant for all their violence. Indeed, the more he shamed me, the more refined he became — like a perfumer plucking the petals from a rose, a jeweler prying open an oyster for its pearl.”

”She resists, but he seizes her by the hair and throws her into the lake…She does not know how to swim, so her arms and legs thrash uselessly and her mouth opens and closes in wild convulsions…”

”I can picture every detail of Marie’s suffering, from the way the seaweed wraps about her ankles to the echoes of her cries among the birches. And then, in my mind, you, Mari, have taken her place.”

”Would you like to have lunch at my home next Tuesday? I will cook for you.”

”The blades touched my abdomen. A cold shock ran through me, and my head began to spin. If he had pressed just a bit harder, the scissors might have pierced my soft belly. The skin would have peeled back, the fat beneath laid bare. Blood would have dripped on the bedspread.”

”The desires of the human heart know no reason or rules.”

”How lovely your pale face looks when you are on the verge of suffocating and want to ask for my help…How long will this weather continue? It’s the worst hot spell I have seen since moving to the island.”

““I’m sorry. Forgive me” They were words I had said over and over to my mother since childhood. Though I’d had no idea what forgiveness meant I had cried for it nonetheless.

“I was confused and afraid, and yet somewhere deep inside I was praying that voice would someday give me an order, too.”

”It was as if a tiny crack had opened somewhere in him and was growing, tearing him to pieces. If he had simply been angry, I might have found a way to calm him, but I had no idea how to put him back together once he came apart.”

”But I wanted this body I worshipped to be ugly – only then could I taste my disgrace. Only when I was brutalized, reduced to a sack of flesh, could I know pure pleasure.”

”“I betrayed you,” I said, so quietly that I hardly knew it was my own voice. It felt like a lie even though I told the truth. He stood perfectly still. A siren sounded, long and low.
“You can’t get home. They’ve stopped the boat,” he said.

Strangely, I did not think about Mother, or what I would tell her tomorrow. It seemed that tomorrow would never come.”

Yōko Ogawa, Hotel Iris, 1996
tr. Stephen Snyder

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