The 90's Mall Game went surprising well. I think we all had fun. We laughed a lot. The players even solved the mystery (the wrap up was a little rushed, but we don't tend to play long sessions). Playing a character that they were familiar with already from an outside source was a big draw for a few of them. It gave them a well of knowledge to draw on for "how would my character act" in different situations (and added a lot to the humor when others at the table were familiar with the source material). I managed to strip out all extraneous elements to the game: no red herrings, no random encounters, no blocks because of dice failure. I tried to make the clues clear enough, I went along with the players' ideas, and I tried to keep to saying "yes" to things. Most of my NPCs ended up being the friends/enemies the players wrote on their character sheet, which was a mix of helpful and not, as I was not familiar with all the sources (or skilled at emulating the ones I was). There was a certain amount of the players just having to go along with stuff, like "why do we care about solving this mystery" that I didn't plan out very well. But all-in-all it was a fun time.
Some of my new books arrived earlier this week, and I finished reading Kawabata's House of Sleeping Beauties which is another case of me falling into the "reading all the books by an author I like" and being at times underwhelmed. The novella (I guess you would call it) is about an old man who goes to this house (so very Japanese) where he pays to sleep with young women, not in the sense of sex but just sleep as the woman are drugged to be in a deep sleep and the men are forbidden from having sex with them. As such the setup is a little creepy (made more so by some of the protagonist's comments) for numerous reasons (it is never made clear if these women are willing participants, especially since he never sees the same girl twice). Really nothing about it resonated with me and there was little going on in it as a whole. The man reminisces a bit about his past... not much else.