rating: 4 of 5 stars
No Longer Human is brutal, and about as accurate a portrait of the skewing effects the twin corrupters of narcissism and depression can have on a life. The narrator, based closely on Dazai's own life, is insufferable, not only to those around him but to himself and yet like a corrosive fog, he consumes everyone and everything with whom he comes in contact.
Anyone blessed enough to not have depression in them will likely not find much to like in this book, but for the rest of us, Dazai is brave/horrible enough to look straight into the mirror and report what is there. Just as Cormac McCarthy's The Road is relentless in depicting a dead exterior world, Dazai's blunt unfeeling narrator depicts that lifeless interior. Both books are all the more alarming because they eschew hyperbole when traipsing these barren landscapes; the truth is much more sobering than any fiction could be.
One of the things I appreciated about No Longer Human is that it bypassed redemption for persistence; the narrator does not give it up a bit, even up to the end. The problems here are not the kind you exactly fix.
Frankly, this book isn't a whole lot of fun, but if you want to lift the hood and see the squirming engine of self-loathing in action, if the characters in Bukowski's Tales of Ordinary Madness or David Thewlis' character in Mike Leigh's film Naked unfortunately strike a chord with you, this might just do it for you.
I would suggest reading the Wikipedia article on Dazai before venturing into this thing, it will give you an idea with whom and what you are dealing.
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