Studies in Insignificance

Richard Krause


These stories tantalize by bordering on the darker sides of human sexuality. And by exploring these darker venues, Krause has been able to illuminate humanity in general–our fleeting glimpses of cruelty and revenge, or, say, uncertainty and masochism. You will find stories ranging from a man falling into an increasingly bizarre relationship with a German couple in their country home ("My Brown Shirt"), to a Japanese man who cannot rid himself of the childhood memory of spying on a pair making violent love. All of Krause’s characters share obsession. And while their obsessions are seemingly "insignificant" to outsiders, those same obsessions tellingly reflect not so insignificant political and religious obsessions that we have recently and historically seen doing so much global harm.

A good deal of these stories are set in Japan. Krause’s time overseas in that country has shaped his prose in a most intricate way that reflects his themes of obsession. His award-winning retelling of the career of a historical Kabuki actor, Hanshiro Iwai, and the cross-dressing turn his acting took as an onnagata until it became an obsessive part of his entire persona, is a story not to be missed for its treatment of this aspect of Japanese culture.

ISBN 1-931982-07-4,  trade paper, $14.95              Sale $7.50

ISBN 1931982066, library binding, $26.00               Sale $13.00

161 Pages

About the Author: 

Richard Krause was born in New York City and lived in the Bronx until he was ten.  He has lived in Pennsylvania, Kansas, and San Francisco.  He drove a taxi for five years in New York City and taught English in Japan for nine years.  At present he lives in Kentucky with his wife and children and teaches English at Somerset Community College.  His writing has appeared in magazines like American Writing, The Prose Poem, Hawaii Review, Confrontation, Kansas Quarterly, Painted Bride Quarterly, and the American Poetry Review.



 Excerpt From the Book:

    Even when the train would shake, and the car would rattle,      he’d plant his feet squarely so as not to lose his balance, or go careening into someone rather than grab the strap others had touched. He knew of the whorls of fingerprints on the chrome railings, the smudges of body oils where he’d see himself mirrored vaguely. In fact he caught glimpses of their hands and the soft pads above the first joint and realized they all carried their oily identification as indelibly as their voiceprint. And he didn’t want to be the recipient himself, be touched, or touch what they had touched. Or openly hold a handkerchief against the straps as some passengers did. Once when his cousin served him a dish of ice cream, he had said to her, “You can have it, I don’t want it. You touched it!” And for that he was scolded and sent to his room for the rest of the day.
    The preoccupation with public germs grew in Taro’s constantly alert, increasingly antiseptic mind. So strong was his desire not to be contaminated that he avoided the swarm of identifying prints of even his friends. He was one of those people who at the slightest cough wear white masks in Tokyo to keep from infecting others. In his case it was an excuse to protect himself. He thought the white gauze protected him. And he welcomed colder weather so he could wear gloves and a scarf as his eyes narrowed without his realizing it, giving the impression that the world was rendered prostrate by the precautions he took, as horizontal as his look. But the winter broke and he had to go without his white surgeon’s mask, his gloves and scarf.
    Taro had strong legs from having gotten up off the tatami mat so often and so could brace himself when the train lurched. But more than once he was thrown into another passenger’s lap, and their touch and breath inspired him with the horror that he would pick up some disease from them. So that he rushed home to take a bath and scrub his body and pumice his fingertips of whatever body fluids he had picked up, and he rinsed his…