Monday, August 1, 2011

More Banana(s)...

"Everything in life has some good in it.And when something awful happens, the goodness stands out even more – it’s sad, but that’s the truth."

Not long ago I posted a few impressions on N.P., by Banana Yoshimoto. It was my first read by the Japanese writer, but it seems, not my last. At the end of June I was the lucky winner of Bellezza's Giveaway and so, I dipped into my second book. Needless to say, whenever I read a second, third, etc. book by the same writer, I compare them. "The Lake" was a bit different from "N.P.", but still, dealing with the same recurrent themes of feeling alone in the world, the impossibility of communication, the drowning need to commit suicide because there's too much "otherness" and little "you" in the world.

"When things get really bad, you take comfort in the placeness of a place."

"The Lake" is about Chihiro, a graphic artist who finds herself falling in love with Nakajima, a student in biotechnology with whom she previously shared glimpses and smiles from their opposite windows. Her feelings oscillate between "Just being with Nakajima made me feel as if we were detached from history, and had no particular age" and the impulse to remain independent. However, Nakajima's attitude towards sex makes her wonder what had happened in his past that traumatized him so deeply.

"When someone tells you something big, it's like you're taking money from them, and there's no way it will ever go back to being the way it was. You have to take responsibility for listening."

Do we discover in the end the mystery surrounding him and the ghostly lake, that force that relentlessly calls for both characters? We definitely do. Do we see them having a cup of tea in a small cafe in Paris? We might...

"Here we were, two ridiculously fragile people, sliding along on a very thin layer of ice all the time, each of us ready to slip and take the other down at any moment, the most unsteady of couples – and yet I believed what I had said. It would be all right."

This is not an ordinary love story, but it's definitely a simple one. Not that simple means dull!

"Love isn't only a matter of fussing over each other, hugging, wanting to be together. Some things communicate, inevitably, precisely because you keep them in check."


Bellezza said...

I love how Banana Yoshimoto not only sets a mood, and creates an illusion of simplicity, but causes us to examine our lives. Her ability to be introspective, to allow her characters to be introspective, causes me to be introspective, and I come away from her novels that much richer from the experience. Thanks for the wonderful review!

Ally said...

In truth, simple things are never simple :)
Thank you for the book!

Bellezza said...

Just like things that look easy never are.

You're so welcome! :)