Friday, June 24, 2011

Banana ... Yoshimoto

"I saw the sky and sea and sand and the flickering flames of the bonfire through my tears. All at once, it rushed into my head with tremendous speed, and made me feel dizzy. It was beautiful. Everything that happened was shockingly beautiful, enough to make you crazy." (N.P.)

I heard about Banana Yoshimoto a few years ago, when Humanitas published her novel "Kitchen", but I didn't manage to read it or other books by this author,whose real name is Yoshimoto Mahoko, until this week, when I came across N.P.

N.P. (North Point) is the name of an old song and the book of ninety seven stories that an obscure writer called Takase Sarao wrote before committing suicide, and the newly found ninety eighth story makes its translator kill himself as well. The characters seem to linger between possessing and being possessed, moving towards one another with the slow pace of the burning sun during a hot summer day.
Kazami, the narrator of the story befriends Takase's twins, Otohiko and Saki, but later in the novel develops a strange relationship with Sui, the lover but also daughter of Takase himself. Between incest and melancholy, the characters go in search of passion just to find the obsession of suicide, as a curse for those who get near the ninety eighth story... Will they go beyond this presumed curse to find just the sad love story of a summer? It's for you to discover...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Book Binge

"If a man wants to read good books, he must make a point of avoiding bad ones; for life is short, and time and energy limited."
— Schopenhauer

More often than not I am trying to stick to these words, but then I find myself wondering: "What makes a book worth reading?". I usually read books whose authors I am familiar with and I really enjoy their style, but this has also been the year of new discoveries: ONE DAY by David Nicholls is still among my top ten favorite books; Tony Parsons is a writer I will keep on reading, since I love the authentic way in which he portraits relationships and people in their 30s with the (un)necessary struggles they have to face; I finally read Borges - Aleph - a collection of stories - and I found him too cryptic for my taste; I had a second and yet unforgettable encounter with Alice Sebold and her "Lucky" memoir and with Marc Levy whose third book "Le premier jour" I am about to finish, but what thrilled me the most in these six months (bookwise) was reading the letters of Anais Nin and Henry Miller. The passion between them was out of this world and I am sure it's going to be one of those books I will always return to.
What other books await me? I will be going back to Haruki Murakami due to the Japanese Literature Challenge I entered and I will keep on reading about teaching ESL reading for my dissertation. Also, I will try to discover why FRENCH WOMEN DON'T GET FAT, but that's for another post :)