I Am A Novelist
I am a novelist.
I'm thirty-five years old, and I've been a novelist for seven years. Electronic Guerrilla , which I wrote when I was twenty-eight, sold more than six hundred thousand copies, and each of the novels I've published since- Optic Fiber Love , Sentimental Amorphous , Tokyo Computer Death Match , and Microwave Cosmopolitan- has climbed high up the bestseller lists. This in spite of the fact that nobody, including myself, understands exactly what they're about. When I wrote my first novel I was still working in the PR department at Cray Research, an American computer company.
Quitting my job to become a writer brought about three big changes in my life.
I got famous.
I got rich.
And I got fat.
"Hello? Am I speaking with Okutegawa-sensei?"
The call comes to my office. It's a man's voice, but no one I know.
"You are," I say, and tap to the end of a sentence on my keyboard.
"I know this is rather abrupt, but... may I ask if you're familiar with the Kannai district in Yokohama?"
"I'm sorry, but I make it a policy not to do interviews over the phone. I've been misquoted so often."
There's a long pause. Apparently it isn't someone from the media.
"Are... are you familiar with Kannai?"
"I've been there. What is this is about?"
"I'm the manager of a club in Kannai called Julia."
"Do you know it?"
"The only one I've been to in Kannai is The Door."
"The Door? Do you go there often?"
"Just once. And it was quite a while ago."
"Were you there last week?"
"No, no, it was when I was still in the corporate world-must be eight years ago, maybe more. A client took me there. Shockingly expensive place, as I recall."
He puts a hand over the mouthpiece, and there's another pause. I can hear him speaking to someone else, but I can't make out what he's saying. Then he comes back on the line.
"The truth is... It's a very embarrassing situation, I'm afraid, but... for the past two months a gentleman who claims to be Okutegawa-sensei, the well-known author, has been a regular customer of ours."
I smirk. An impostor.
"Well, he's not me."
"The unfortunate thing is that... I don't like to say this, but the gentleman is now one million six hundred and thirty-eight thousand yen in debt to us."
"Now just a minute. That has nothing to do with me."
"No, of course not. We're fully aware that any blame lies entirely with ourselves."
"Oh. It's a little hard to understand, though. I should think anyone posing as me would be rather easily exposed."
"Yes, but, well, this may sound presumptuous, but our clientele at Julia includes politicians, businessmen, artists-a lot of high-profile people. And it's not unusual for large corporations to spend as much as two million yen a month in entertainment expenses at our club. To cast unwarranted suspicion on a customer could be-"
"Did he look like me?"
"He... well... forgive me, Sensei, but is it true that you've put on a bit of weight recently?"
I weigh eighteen kilos more than I did when I started out as a writer.
"The photo in your first book, Electone Guerrilla ..."
" Electronic Guerrilla ."
"Yes, of course, I'm so sorry. My daughter takes lessons on a Yamaha Electone, and-"
"You were saying? There was a photograph of me in that book, yes."
"And have you changed much since that picture was taken?"
I've changed plenty. What do you expect? But it's not as if you wouldn't recognize me.
"The Okutegawa-sensei who came to our club brought a number of his books, or rather your books, and signed them for us. I was gi