Yasutaka Tsutsui (1934, Osaka) is considered one of the leading writers of science fiction in the Japanese language. He has received numerous awards and has several well regarded novels including Hell and Paprika.
"The Dabba Dabba Tree" is the lead story in Tsutsui's recently published collection of his short stories, Salmonella Man on Planet Porno. Making use of the sample feature on the Ipad Kindle store at Amazon I was able to download this story for free. I mentioned before Amazon lets people down load a sample of Kindle edition books. This works great for short story collections as you seem to always get from one to three stories plus any introduction to the collection.
In the quotes about the book included with the sample, we are told that his style will be favorably received by fans of the work of Hurakami Murkami and I can for sure see this based on this one small sample.
As the story opens we meet a childless married couple who seem to be in their late twenties to early thirties. The father of the husband, the story is told in the first person by the husband, gives him a strange cedar bonsai tree, a dabba dabba tree. The father tells his son to put the tree in the bedroom as it said to produce erotic dreams and the father in law hopes somehow this will stimulate his son and daughter in law to have sex and hopefully produce a grandchild for him.
One of the common themes of the work of Tsutsui and Murakami is the blurring of the lines between the so called real world and alternative universes like dream worlds.
To compress the plot a lot, the man in what he think is his dream, decides to go to the red light district to find a woman. He rejects the hard looking street women and ends up back at a love hotel with a very preppy young woman. They are told to wait in the lobby for a few minutes and a room should be available. Then another couple enters the room. It his wife and the man who lives right next door to them! He then thinks he has woken from his dream and is back in his bed. He hears a knock on the door. It is the neighbor who tells him he is in the midst of a dream and asks his permission to have sex with his wife, offering his own wife in trade for the evening. Thinking this must also be part of the dream, he agrees. At this point I found it very hard to tell what was real and what was a dream. There are more things in this story but I will leave them untold.
This was a fun story and an enjoyable read. I would consider purchasing one of his longer works but I also might stop at this sample.
Please share your experience with Tsutsui or other Japanese science fiction writers with us.