Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima is a novel about a boy questioning his sexuality and coming to terms with being different. Set in Japan before and during WWII, the novel exists within the anxiety of a mind before tragedy. The narrator highlights different moments of his life where he realizes he is different through his encounters with Omi, Sonoko, and a prostitute. Throughout, the narrator hints and describes his desires for men, the way he fantasizes them being tortured, but can’t come fully to terms with his sexuality.
I think what holds this narrative back is the way it resides too long with Sonoko. The actions and motivations of the narrator around Sonoko are sometimes murky. And while, I understand Mishima wrote the book at a time in Japan where being gay was taboo, it felt like the book skirted way too far away from the subject. It tiptoes around how the narrator feels for Omi and Sonoko, and because of that, there isn’t a decisiveness to what the novel wants to be. Is it about Sonoko and the built friendship, or is it about the narrator’s sexuality? Overall, however, it gave a snapshot of Japan’s sentiments on being gay. It had some well-crafted metaphor, and the moments with Omi always felt special.
Final Rating: 3.5/5
Maxwell Suzuki is a writer, poet, and photographer based in Los Angeles.