Very briefly, this is what each story is about:
- Newlywed is about a newly wed man who is riding on a subway train late at night after drinking a large quantity of whiskey at a bar.
- Lizard is about a young couple who reveal secrets from the past that influence the present.
- Helix is also about a young couple who go to a café after hours to talk.
- Dreaming of Kimchee is about marriage and connection.
- Blood and Water is about a young woman who leaves her home in the country to live in Tokyo.
- A Strange Tale from Down by the River is the story of how the past--and the river--affect the lives of a couple planning to get married.
Set in Japan, these stories embrace many themes, such as healing, religion, spirituality, love, sex, and the passage of time. In some stories, the author narrates from a male point of view, and in others from a female point of view; these first person protagonists are young and modern, introspective, and engaging. On the verge of adulthood, they leave home for the first time, and discover freedom and responsibility. They struggle to find meaning in life and are tinged by ambivalence and sadness, although relief comes through moments of connection with others, noticing a vivid blue sky, or savoring a delectable treat.
"When I looked out from that window each morning at the river, I saw the water glistening, like a million sheets of crushed gold leaf, flowing by. The light within me was something gorgeous like that. I wondered if that was what people in the old days used to call hope."
~A Strange Tale from Down by the River, Banana Yoshimoto
I still call it hope. This collection left me feeling calm and somewhat renewed. I enjoy Banana Yoshimoto's sharp, sparing prose, the offbeat events and surprises in her fiction, and her clear depiction of the joy of simple pleasures and little things--which really aren't so little.
Thank you, LuAnn, for hosting this reading challenge.