New Brunswick's HERE reviews THE PUSH MAN

“The shocking 60s This one's not for kids” / Here Magazine / Bernard C. Cormier / November 2, 2005

The shocking 60s
This one's not for kids

This time, I will not beat around the bush: The Push Man And Other Stories is not for children. It would also be a good idea to keep adults who are easily offended away from it, too.

The Push Man And Other Stories is a reprint book collecting short stories by Japanese artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi originally published in 1969. It is the first in a series of books reprinting Mr. Tatsumi's work with each volume dedicated to one year's worth of output.

Containing sixteen stories, this volume has been edited by Adrian Tomine.

The Plots:

1) "Piranha": A man looses his arm in an industrial accident on purpose (!) to get the one million yen his wife needs to start a business.

2) "Projectionist": The daily routine of a travelling projectionist of pornographic films.

3) "Black Smoke": The wife of an impotent garbageman commits adultery. He is not impressed…

4) "The Burden": A massage parlour employee is faced with the pregnancy of his wife. He does not want the baby.

5) "Test Tube": An intern at a hospital research lab has, as an assignment, the regular task of donating his sperm.

6) "Pimp": The title says it all.

7) "The Push Man": The Japanese subways are so crowded, "Push Men" exist to push people into the trains (squeeze them like sardines). Some get a sexual thrill when pushing women.

8) "Sewer": A story about people who have the job of cleaning sewers. They frequently need to deal with dead babies and fetuses.

9) "Telescope": Again the focus is on an impotent man. This time, he is an amputee who gets paid by an old pervert to use a rooftop telescope to watch him have sex with an attractive woman.

During the "performance", the old man keeps looking at him; meanwhile the woman is oblivious to the voyeuristic activity taking place.

(Common sense: use blinds when having sex).

10) "The Killer": A young couple have a successful business: assassination.

11) "Traffic Accident": A middle-aged mechanic has a simple life. He works in a garage during the day. Afterwards, he watches a Blue Nuit-type show on TV. One day, the sexy host brings her car into the garage for a repair.

12) "Make-Up": A married man enjoys dressing as a woman to pick-up married bisexual females.

13) "Disinfection": A man with a job titled "telephone disinfector" pays a visit to a prostitute.

14) "Who Are You?": Upon self-reflection, a man does not know the answer to that question.

15) "Bedridden": After being hit by a car, a man offers 300,000 yen to a subordinate to care for his short sex slave (who lives in a blanket!).

16) "My Hitler": A man fantasizes about what happens to his sperm each time his girlfriend has a douche.

(Remember: condoms were not nearly as popular in 1969 as they are today).

Again, this is not for children and adults who are easily offended. Even if it is in black and white, some images are shocking and disturbing.

The best examples are those involving babies and fetuses. They get burned, thrown into waste areas, and get smashed by shovels.

Not things most people want to see.

When it comes to the arts, I am very liberalminded.

Therefore, I am OK with the existence of the images mentioned but that does not mean I want to see them! Of course, the book is loaded with nudity, violence, and language.

Most of the stories have open-endings without an actual end to the situations presented. Most endings are disturbing, yet some are actually rather positive.

If the stories can be used to explore the Japanese social issues of 1969, Japan was like Canada in many ways. Considering the issues discussed in the book, pregnancy must have been a very important issue at this time. I suspect that the Pill was not as freely available compared to Canada because abortion is depicted as the only solution to pregnancy. Pre-sex methods of birth control (i.e.: condoms) are not mentioned.

It is dark and explicit in content: proceed with caution!

Bernard C. Cormier is, among other things, a freelance writer, broadcaster, and filmmaker.

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