This odd, sometimes irritating and always fascinating book is difficult to categorise. A commonplace book driven by a single obsession? That would certainly convey the way in which it consists for the most part of a series of brief, finely chiselled passages, each often no more than a paragraph in length, with little sense of cohesion between them. But there is nothing commonplace about either the content or the style.
Ross’s obsession, as the title suggests, is with the Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima and the antique sword with which, after he had plunged a knife into his belly, spilling out his entrails in an act of selfless or self-glorifying seppuku, one of his cohorts decapitated him. The sword, slightly bent