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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The loneliness of passing time, 25 April 2008
This review is from: Hardboiled/Hard Luck (Paperback)
Banana Yoshimoto requires a certain mood. It's almost like reading poetry. On the surface it's naked and painfully mundane - but there's always some kind of parallel reality, something magic in her stories.

This book contains two novellas. The first one is about a woman who is out walking, checks in at a weird hotel and reminisces about her female friend and lover who died a year ago. The second one is about a woman and her relationship to her sister who is in coma. About the sadness and beauty that surrounds you when a close one dies.

Both stories have young female narratives and they are quite similar, living in the shadow of another woman whom they admire. At the same time they are trying to come to terms with their own identity and path in life. Lines like "when I see too many ordinary people, I start thinking that I'm strange, and that makes me uneasy" is typical of Yoshimoto's nave, but totally believable style.

Another favourite passage is:

"The loneliness of passing time. The loneliness of the fork in the road.
`I wonder why we feel so lonely? It's odd, isn't it?'
We kept repeating such phrases, as if it were someone else's problem."

Loss is a topic in many of Yoshimoto's stories. The reason I don't give this book 5 stars is that I know that she could've written with even more pain and beauty. In the second story I would've expected a bit more from the ending.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Autumn in Japan, 19 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Hardboiled/Hard Luck (Paperback)
Two stories or short novella about coping with personal loss, bereavement told by 2 young women in the I-form. Both narrators are very sensitive and good at remembering their dreams, one even realizing she must be dreaming, while doing so. Finally, both narrators have occasional bouts of a strong cosmic and natural awareness symbolizing a brightened mood by e.g. bright stars in a pitch dark sky, swirling multicolored autumn leaves, the beauty of fruits and vegetables. Periods of gloom take the form of sounds muffled by prolonged periods of fog, sleeplessness, crying.
“Hardboiled” is the more straightforward of the two, albeit full of omens, dreams and ghosts from the past, sketching a woman’s hike in the mountains and her eventful overnight stay in a small town hotel. Late in the tale she realizes she has forgotten the anniversary of the death of her friend/lover Shizuru. Full of cross references and symbolism and an example of how much closer Japanese feel to living in a fleeting world with multiple gods and ancestral spirits, where time can slow down, stop or surge ahead. Like Murakami’s “After Midnight”, this story covers less than 24 hours.
Whilst Shizuru’s death came suddenly and its long-term impact on her friend is hard to grasp for readers, “Hard Luck” is a study of the predicted and real death and bereavement of female narrator’s sister Kuni, for months on life support after a brain hemorrhage. The reader is taken on an emotional tour of the narrator’s memories of her sister, the response from Kuni’s fiancé and his older brother Sakai, her former work colleagues, her parents… It ends on a slightly higher note than “Hardboiled”. Needs to be read more than once to fully appreciate it.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just what I was looking for, 4 Jan 2007
This review is from: Hardboiled/Hard Luck (Paperback)
In preparation for an upcoming trip to Japan I decided to try some of Yoshimoto's work. I wasn't disappointed. The style of hard boiled/hard luck is somewhat similar to Murikami's lucid but surreal prose in the Wind Up Bird Chronicle. The reader is offered a view of Japanese life that is everday in its simplicity, but spins magic out of the mundane.

My only complaint would be that it didn't last long enough!
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Hardboiled/Hard Luck
Hardboiled/Hard Luck by Banana Yoshimoto (Paperback - 21 July 2005)
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