A haunting novella of fame and disillusionment by a Japanese literary icon
All eyes are upon Rikio. And he likes it, mostly. His fans cheer from a roped-off section, screaming and yelling to attract his attention. They would kill for a moment alone with him. Finally the director sets up the shot, the camera begins to roll, someone yells "action"; Rikio, for a moment, transforms into another being, a hardened young yakuza, but as soon as the shot is finished, he slumps back into his own anxieties and obsessions.
Written shortly after Yukio Mishima himself had acted in the film Afraid to Die, this novella is a rich and unflinching psychological portrait of a celebrity coming apart at the seams as the absurdity of his existence comes sharply into focus. With exquisite, vivid prose, Star begs the question: is there ever any escape from how we are seen by others?
Mishima's ethereal 1961 novel, published for the first time in English, showcases the strains of fame on a young movie star. Twenty-three-year-old Rikio Mizuno plays a hardened yakuza in a series of successful films. He has a large, devoted fan base among women egged on by the romantic, wholly fabricated stories from the studio's public relationship department. In his short nights between long, grueling production days, he finds respite and sexual release with his assistant Kayo. She mocks everything, including their differences in age and beauty, the confessional letters of fans, and a desperate, unstable starlet who ambushes a set in an attempt to land a larger role. Rikio shuns all other trappings of a personal life and defends his choices as necessary to remain a star. Mishima is a master of the psychological: he blurs distinctions between Rikio's identity and the characters he plays in disorienting but never jarring transitions between movie scenes and reality. Even decades after its original publication, this nimble novella about the costs and delusions of constant public attention will resonate with readers.