Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sorbet for the reader.

Woohoo! I churned out a crappy first draft of a story for class tomorrow in three hours - record time. I normally NEVER let a story see the light of day if I haven't at least combed through it several times, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and plus, I'll see if I can make some time tomorrow at work. (hee hee!)

Anyway, I finished Goodbye Tsugumi today. I liked it. I'm a big fan of Banana Yoshimoto. There's something about her writing that is very spare, lonely and yet very dreamy and ethereal at the same time. Some of it feels very much like Murakami (though I wonder if it's because that's how Japanese translates), but it's lacking the weirdness he has, and always has an underlying nostalgia. Reading her always makes me think of environment, of snow or rain or the sea or something equally poetic that lends itself to the pervasive tone of her stories.

This story is quite nice, as are most of her books. It's very short, only 184 pages (and it's a very small volume), almost like a sweet dessert or something, a sorbet that leaves your palate feeling very clean and refreshed (out slips the food lover in me). She's got some really nice prose, but isn't heavy on it -- she's just very good at capturing a feeling, which I really like.

I did have a couple of issues with the book:

1) the beginning seemed like she hated her cousin but turns out not, as you learn within the next 20 pages. I feel like she might have written that in an earlier draft and not changed it adequately or something.

2) sometimes I felt the dialogue was kind of... inauthentic. Almost too poetic at points. Again though, this may be how it translates. It may be that it's perfectly normal for Japanese people to talk this way, but translated to English, it sounds verbose, even stilted. However, one funny example of this is the following:

"You're probably right. I knew that I couldn't just go on making a pest of myself at the inn forever, and of course I'm glad that your father and I have finally been able to come together like this, but somehow I just can't forget the feeling of living in a group with so many other people. It's in me even now, an unending presence deep within me, like the crashing of the sea."

Having said this, my mother pressed her hand to her mouth and slipped into a little fit of giggles. "My," she said, "aren't I the poet today!"
--[pg. 44-45, Goodbye Tsugumi]

Funny, because paragraph 1 and paragraph two are on opposite pages. I got to the bottom of that dialogue, and I was like, What? People don't talk like that! Then I got to the next paragraph and I had to laugh. It was almost as if she knew we'd think that way.

Anyway, Yoshimoto really hasn't disappointed me yet.

2 drops:

moonrat said...

i like her, too.

does it help at all that we know her translator and that he's the sweetest guy in the world?

angelle said...

Aw. You do??

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