Thursday, November 25, 2010

Math and Poetry.

I hadn't heard of Yoko Ogawa at all, but when I came across The Housekeeper and the Professor, I knew I had to read it.  I'm obsessed with stories about memory, and the idea of short term memory is always interesting to me.  This is a fairly short book and I read it in two sittings, but it was really enjoyable.

There's something really beautiful about this story, which is really just a simple one.  What I love about the austerity of this book though is that despite it being a simple book told in clean, simple prose, is that it is still very elegant and poignant, complex in its underlying themes.  I was so engaged by the story, even the math, and I found myself, magically, looking at numbers in a new way, as if I were the narrator herself, being exposed to how the professor looked at numbers.  Ogawa must really love math too, to be able to speak about numbers in such a wonderful poetic way.  It crossed my mind that math teachers should give out this book, to be honest, because it makes us less mathematically-inclined people see the sudden music and poetry inherent in numbers, and that is no small feat.  I also just love how an entire relationship is painted through these little snippets and through the numbers -- how the professor finds comfort in them and so we soon see how the hard complex things that he has trouble expressing are often expressed through his relationship to numbers.

Honestly, I think the term "jewel" is thrown around sometimes, but this book to me felt just like that.  Beautiful and wonderful in a small but substantial way, like a small delectable sweet bean cake held out in the palms of somebody's hand or something.  I will definitely be reading more of her books from here on out.

Also, I apologize if these entries are sloppy -- I've become lazy/busy and backlogged, and now my eyes just hurt but I wanted to bang these out.  :)  Happy Thanksgiving!

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