There's this Maya Angelou (RIP) quote that goes "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." I bring this up because, much as this applies to people (and it so, so does), it can equally apply to books. I think we've all read books where we can't quite remember the plot or much that's specific from them, but shit, we know they made us feel things, and also stuff.
I bring this up because, I know that I really liked Lizard while I was reading it, I just can't remember much about the specific stories (there are 6). Banana Yoshimoto writes in a style I really like- it's fairly simple and easy to read, and then a sentence might come along that takes your breath away just a little bit; and that's in translation. Obviously because she's a Japanese author, I'm predisposed to like her (I'm currently reading my third Japanese book in a row, and have my next Murakami allll planned out), and it doesn't hurt that there's a touch of Haruki in her writing- a touch of magical realism, and oh yes some sadness; but her writing and her stories are still definitely all her own.
All that I've really said so far is 'Banana Yoshimoto is good, you should read her.' This is definitely true. If you tend to steer away from short stories (or Japanese authors. Or Murakami) then this might not be for you, but otherwise I say go forth! Get stuck into these little slices of life and love and hope and loss and all sorts of other themes that I can remember, even if I can't remember much from the stories themselves. Maybe you will, and they'll stay with you for the rest of your life. I really hope so.
However. Even if I can't remember much, I can remember some stuff. There are some little moments from some of the stories that have stayed with me, and because this review is lacking just a little bit in content, let's talk about a couple of those (bear with me, there will be quotes).
"Your love is different from mine. What I mean is, when you close your eyes, for that moment, the centre of the universe comes to reside within you. And you become a small figure within that vastness, which spreads without limit behind you, and continues to expand with tremendous speed, to engulf all of my past, even before I was born, and every word I've ever written, and each view I've seen, and all the constellations and darkness of outer space that surrounds the small blue ball that is earth. Then, when you open your eyes, all that disappears.
I anticipate the next time you are troubled, and must close your eyes again."Mostly I just wanted to share that because it's abouuut as close as prose comes to poetry to me. But also, each time I read it, I interpret it differently. The first time, I thought it meant that her love for him is all consuming and engulfing, whereas his love is about enjoying meaning that much to another person. Now I think it's more that she uses his love as her place of comfort and home, and loves being able to provide that for her and welcomes it when he can. Maybe it's a little bit of both, or maybe it's something else entirely- THIS IS THE BEAUTY OF READING.
"I shut the window, and then looked down at the river again. Unlike the river I had seen moments before, full of chaos and anxiety, the water now appeared calm and powerful, like an image frozen by a camera lens. It was peaceful, like the passage of time, flowing by, gentle and unchanging. It amazed me how utterly different things can look, just with a change of heart."I love this because it's so simple but it's so incredibly true. One of the oldest philosophical fragments (I know, I studied Ancient Philosophy one time, leave me alone) is about how no one steps in the same river twice, and this makes me think of that, as well as just the general idea that, the world isn't really this one static thing, it's also inseparable from the way we experience it (more philosophy!). The exact same view can be repellant or pleasing, depending on where we've been, what we've done, or simply how we feel that day; books can change what they mean to us as we age and learn more, and it's just one of the more interesting aspects of life- because we change, things that seem eternal and fixed just aren't.
I'm pretty sure that's what Yoshimoto was trying to say in those four sentences, anyway. Ahem.
So, yes. Lizard is pretty great at getting me to think deep thoughts, but not so much at getting me to remember stuff. On the whole, I'd probably rather do the former anyway, so if that appeals to you too, you should probably read this. If not, then you've probably got a better memory than me, so you can read this too. Failing all that, just read Moonlight Shadow from Kitchen, because it's been more than a year since I read that, and I was moved by it AND I remember it. Bonus points there, Yoshimoto.
"One of the oldest philosophical fragments (I know, I studied Ancient Philosophy one time, leave me alone) is about how no one steps in the same river twice"ReplyDelete
I think this is also the central theme of a song in Pocahontas. *nods sagely and smokes pipe*
I have only seen Pocahontas once (for some strange reason, since it appeals to all my loving nature ideals and whatnot) so I'll have to take your word for this. BUT STILL it is an interesting/true concept and I love it.Delete
Look at you, being all philosophical in this post and earnest and praising of the book? I love GIFs and silliness as much as the next person (almost as much, if the next person is Alice), but I REALLY love it when we're all, THIS BOOK. And WHY. And IT MOVED ME. And this is how I FELT about myself and the WORLD.ReplyDelete
I love BOTH OF THESE THINGS, and I like to think I do a good mixture of the two! I probably don't, and mostly just write crap, but still. Yes to getting all deep and meaningful sometimes!Delete
Totally agree! I've read both Kitchen and Goodbye Tsugumi and remember enjoying them even though I couldn't tell you the first thing that happened.ReplyDelete
I can't really remember Kitchen, but Moonlight Shadow was STUNNINGLY good. Just, yes. I bloody love Yoshimoto though :)Delete
I have this author on my list! I just have to find her in the library. I actually have Fudoki coming to me from the library. Have you read that one? It gets fantastic reviews on GoodReads, but seems to be not very well-known at all.ReplyDelete
I have not read Fudoki, nor even heard of it! I feel like I've failed, Japan-wise. Yoshimoto is so so good though, I probably liked Kitchen better than this, but I still liked this a lot.Delete
Banana Yoshimoto - I remember stumbling upon Kitchen at the library and pondering the bizarre pen name, and getting it just to say that I once read a book by a person called Banana. She is amazing at getting slice of life down with the simplest of phrases, even though life itself is complicated and messy. That said, I haven't read Lizard yet, so I should get right to it!ReplyDelete