Hitting the Target


What is baseball? Breaking free. Focusing on that one line reaching out across the field. Finishing when you arrive. Shouts that confirm what happened. Kim Kyung-uk’s novel What Is Baseball? asks this question.


     Poetic. I have been a fan of Kim Kyung-uk’s novels for a long time. Since he has been writing for twenty-two years, I have been a fan for all those twenty-two years (and it has been seven years since we became friends). When a poet becomes a novelist’s fan, it means that their novels are highly poetic. At least that’s how it is in my case. To me, being poetic means that something hidden is there. Something that often slips. Something is there that does not finish when ended. What poetics might be found in his grandly structured novels and precise language? For a long time that elusive allure has made me seek his novels out.


     Evolving mechanical fiction. This is a term coined by a literary critic some years ago. Many people have said that this term fits the work of Kim Kyung-uk perfectly. I have thought so as well. Little by little, he tries to become more mechanical. Continually writing. Little by little, he writes with ever more precision. Trying to show the center of the center. That place, however, is unknown. While thinking that it must be there, it remains unknown. After reading his works you are left with the feeling “he has yet to show the true center.” Instead, there’s a feeling that, “while precise, the precision does not reveal the target it has hit.” But my cheek burns; I have been struck by what I have read.


     An artisan. He writes ever more precisely. His stories are conveyed in terribly interesting ways. However, the reader does not determine the pace...