Excerpt from Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolas Obregon, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Blue Light Yokohama

by Nicolas Obregon

Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolas Obregon X
Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolas Obregon
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  • Published:
    Mar 2017, 416 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Gary Presley
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Print Excerpt


IWATA WOKE FROM A FALLING dream again. Drenched in sweat, struggling for breath, he went to the window. The Tokyo cityscape stretched out below him, cities within cities, angles incalculable. Thirty-five million existences crammed into circadian rhythms of concrete and cables. Immense infrastructure, never-ending networks—all of it delicate as hummingbird heartbeats.

The lights of the city are so pretty.

Iwata crossed his sparse apartment to the kitchenette and poured himself a glass of water. He saw the large cardboard boxes stacked in the corner and looked away. Wrapping himself in a blanket, he sat down by his stereo system and put on headphones. He closed his eyes as the opening notes of Schubert's Impromptu in G flat major, op.90, no.3 filled his disquiet and the nightmare dissolved in the music.

Gray morning haze had seeped through the blinds by the time Iwata had made up his mind to leave. He drank coffee in silence, showered rigorously, and dressed in jeans and a thick, gray, cashmere pullover. Picking up the newspaper, he took the elevator down to the car park and unlocked his 1979 Isuzu 117 Coupé. He plucked a handwritten note from the windshield offering cash, scrunched it up, and put it in his pocket. The leather had cracks and she'd hardly ever seen a garage, but Iwata found notes like these every other week. Clearly, he had a covetous neighbor.

He started the car and left the radio off, enjoying the rare quiet of the Tokyo roads. At the southern entrance of Shibuya Station, the first few street vendors had assembled, sharing bags of hot nuts and flasks of tea as they conspired. Payday loan shops and cell phone dealerships were opening their shutters. On the roof of a department store, the news played on a giant LED screen. Mina Fong, a famous actress, had been found dead in her apartment. A well-known heiress had broken up with a promising Yomiuri Giants pitcher. A popular cookery show had been canceled. And there was a new number-one single in the pop charts. The broadcast ended with an insurance company's slogan:


Iwata turned off the main roads and found parking in an overlooked lot behind an arcade. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and made his way along the chilly backstreets. Spring was not just late this year; it had seemingly given up on itself.

Iwata went into a large department store and spent an hour buying highlighters, workbooks, and plastic dividers. In the café, he ordered a gum-syrup coffee and a fruit salad. There was no Wi-Fi here but Iwata liked the view. He sat among exhausted night-shift workers and sipped his coffee, looking down at the high street. Shibuya was now throbbing with flustered commuters and bleary-eyed students. Traffic cops frantically waved at inching traffic and pedestrians bristled at the red lights.

Iwata opened the newspaper and turned directly to the classifieds. He ignored oblique offers for discreet massage, dining company from middle-aged women, and French tuition. He stopped at the storage-space section and scanned through carefully. After a few minutes, he circled an ad, then folded the newspaper under his arm and left.

Outside, the fog had momentarily lifted and the sky was a cold, exquisite blue. Iwata got back into his car and called the number from the ad. A drowsy voice answered.

"This is Matsumoto here." The man coughed then lit a cigarette. "Your storage problems are my passion."

Iwata stated his interest and Matsumoto reeled off an address, agreeing to meet in an hour.

Driving north, past Harajuku, Iwata parked up near the subway station. He walked along Takeshita Street with its knockoff T-shirts, Hello Kitty, and plastic fads. Tourists gawked at the chichi neon and manufactured cheer. Posters of the latest idol groups clung to all available wall space. Cheap speakers played happy pop and teenage girls cutting class weighed up prices. Iwata hated this place but there was a nearby noodle bar he favored for its breakfast tamagoyaki. Usually it was half-empty but today, for some reason, it had attracted a large line of smoking salarymen. Iwata swore and returned to his car.

Excerpted from Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolas Obregon. Copyright © 2017 by Nicolas Obregon. Excerpted by permission of Minotaur Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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