10 Jul 2009
I have no idea why I have this book, it's not something I would normally pick up. But as I tend to buy them and not read them until months later (and this one I've had for over 2 years) then that's not surprising is it?
There are two tales in this tiny 150 page book. The first is of a lonely orphaned young woman, Mikage, who moves in with people, a boy and his 'mother', that she doesn't know, but they know of her. Their lives entwine and the boy's life quickly mirrors her own.
The second, and shorter tale, is a haunting telling of a different young woman and her loss. This one delves further into the realms of magical-realism.
I almost threw this book across the room. The writing was so irritatingly poor. But it's short length made me press on. The worst was the use of the most trite cliches.
It's original is in Japanese so I came to wonder about a few things. Was the flaw in the writing, the loss in translation, or in the translator's skills?
Putting the writing style aside, I found two quite atmospheric little tales. There is nothing profound or new here, but they are touching. It's Yoshimoto's ability to reflect emotions and states back into the environment that are its strongest point.
The theme of loneliness moved into despair and I found it too depressing for me right now. I would have liked this one more so in my early 20's or teens. Yoshimoto attempts to give a glimmer of hope, about moving on after loss. Not in any obvious tying-up of their lives, and I respect her for that. Yet I think she pushed her point too far in the second story and she loses a tiny bit of credibility.
I was surprised to find myself, if not caring, at least deeply interested in Mikage's life. Surprising considering the time we are given to know them.
edit: since writing this review I searched out other reviews and it seems that the flaw was in the translator's ability. Good to know because apparently it was a best-seller in Japan.
I don't particularly recommend it. If you come across it, it's short enough read.