BookSexy on Death Sentences
The description on the back cover of Kawamata Chiaki’s Death Sentences compares the sci-fi/fantasy novel to the 2002 horror film The Ring (or Ringu, if you’re a purist who only acknowledges the original 1998 Japanese version). The film plot centers on **SPOILER ALERT** a video tape that’s haunted by a murdered girl. Anyone who watches the tape dies in seven days. Of course there’s a loophole. (There’s always a loophole).
Outside of the initial premise that something you see/watch/read/focus-on-for-an-extended-period-of-time can kill you the plots are very different. A better comparison is, in my opinion, “The Albertine Notes” by Rick Moody. (This novella can be read in McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales). The two share several common themes – time travel, addiction, a mysterious and deadly drug (The Albertine Notes) or poem (Death Sentences), and an opportunity to set things right that comes at the end. In addition, both stories feature an Asian protagonist and a haunting, fragmented narrative that only gradually resolves itself.