“In a Bamboo Grove,” “The Ice Man,” and “The Brown House” had more in common than the Japanese culture. They left me yearning for more. In each story the writer did not tie up every loose end presented in story; the conclusions were ominous and mysterious. As a writer, I respect the literary value of this technique and plan to incorporate it in my own work. As a reader, I was frustrated. I wanted to know why the testimonies in Ryūnosuke Akutagawa’s “In a Bamboo Grove” did not corroborate with the others. I was terribly upset by the lack of closure provided in Haruki Murakami’s “The Ice Man.” I want to know what resulted in the dismal appearance of Mrs. Wu’s eyes in Hisaye Yamamoto’s “The Brown House.”
The more time that I devote to understanding this literary technique, the more it seems to reflect abrupt endings in life. Will we ever know every detail about a person’s life? These Japanese stories gave a quick glimpse into someone else’s life. They allow us to don the struggles of another being so that our perception of the world can grow. Would readers truly be entertained by a story that left no stone unturned? Writing would not be as powerful if each reader was not granted creative license over the ending. I’m bothered by the lack of closure, but in some demented manner, it is fulling. The author can set the stage and imply what the conclusion could be, but I get to have the last say.