Patient X: The Case-Book of Ryūnosuke Akutagawa by David Peace [in Library Journal]
In one of the most inexcusable examples of careless casting or lazy producing or both, David Peace (Red or Dead) gets utterly short-changed by Ric Jerrom’s exasperating performance, from grievous mispronunciations of the majority of the Japanese names and words – including even Peace’s protagonist Ryūnosuke Akutagawa – to unnecessarily heightened, frenzied interpretations of too many passages.
With dozens of audiobook credits, British actor Jerrom – who seems to be the voice of choice for Ruth Rendell and Patrick O’Brian – is no newbie, but his unfamiliarity with the Japanese language or literature is painfully obvious. That Peace’s final volume in his “Tokyo Trilogy” should be so mistreated is a shame.
Moving from post-war Tokyo murders in Tokyo Year Zero, to a 12-part Rashōmon-esque dissection of mass murder in 1948 Tokyo in Occupied City, Peace concludes his three-parter with the too-short, disquieting tragic life of Rashōmon creator Akutagawa, presented as 13 tales told by “Patient X in one of our iron castles.” Equal parts biography, myth-making, homage, and fabulous storytelling, this work by Peace – who lived in Japan for 17 years – is a memorable multi-perspective montage of a literary legend as a troubled young man.
Verdict: By all means, choose the page.