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Lizard Paperback – 12 Nov 1998

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Simon and Schuster; Reprint edition (12 Nov. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671532766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671532765
  • Product Dimensions: 18.4 x 1 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 705,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Praise for "Lizard" Earnest, deep, and unaffected. . . . These stories . . . [are] quick and delicate, building, one after another, in a gentle crescendo of understanding and intensity. "The New Yorker" Banana Yoshimoto s elegant, fey touch with such weighty themes as despair and fate, [and] her urban images distilled and shimmering as haiku . . . continue to make her a welcome and uniquely assured voice on the global Gen-X scene. "Paper" Yoshimoto writes spare but precise narratives . . . Included is a strain of magic that at times is overt, and at times delicately traced along the margins of the tales. "South Bend Tribune" The substance of the stories in "Lizard" . . . could be from any time concerned with the ambivalence of life and with the longing for humans for a spiritual connection. "Edge" Yoshimoto revels in the transformative . . . Her delight in the everyday and things beyond translates easily and ultimately merges the two in a beautiful whole. "Virginian Pilot & Ledger-Star" Articulate and young but already jaded and wistful urbanites populate these reflective tales of relationships and discovery. "Library Journal" Yoshimoto s frequently surreal, elegantly geometric yet richly hued, and gently spiritual stories celebrate the wonder of love at first sight, the rightness of certain relationships, and the gift of hope. "Booklist"" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Banana Yoshimoto has won numerous prizes in her native Japan, and her first book, "Kitchen," has sold millions of copies worldwide. Her books have been translated and published in more than twenty countries. She lives in Tokyo. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 30 Jun. 2003
Format: Paperback
I've read a few of Banana's books and have enjoyed all of them. I love the simplicity of her language, the stories undulate in intensity and yet deal with everyday, sometimes banal things. I especially liked Helix, the way they talked to each other, the severity of what they witnessed and the beauty that they found within it. Her Japan isn't all gadgets, skyscrapers and crowded subways, but about characters who inhabit this world and who seem separate from it, yet integral to it. I love her and her books and have made my friends read them. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
When I first read this book two years ago, I loved it, and went and bought three more by Yoshimoto, most of which I have enjoyed. However, surprised by some reviews that suggest her prose is too simple, and her characters or stories under-developed, I re-read Lizard this week.
I'm not too sure, now. These stories are a very quick and easy read, and indeed they do keep me reading. There are lovely touches that make me smile. But on this reading I did feel that there was a lack of substance, that some of the stories were a bit shallow, and didn't really explore anything much.
I like my stories to be simple, and I don't need much plot to be kept entertained. Character is more important to me than action. Even so, I didn't feel quite satisfied by my second reading.
Since my first read, I have read a lot of Haruki Murakami, and my interest in Japanese writers has grown. I find Murakami a true master of character and story, and even simply of human emotion. Perhaps it's that Yoshimoto doesn't compare favourably, or perhaps I have been swayed by negative reviews. I do hope not. Perhaps I have just changed in my response to her work over the last two years...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Short stories by Banana Yoshimoto. She was mentioned by my hero Haruki Murakami in an interview and thought I would check her out. Read this slim book in one sitting and felt disappointed by the content and style. Almost as if trying too hard to be Murakami, who is a natural!
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Format: Paperback
Like Banana's other stuff, these stories are ideal if you feel like something light but have high standards with regards to the fiction you read - they are so easy to read and short and as light as meringue, her style is modern and informal and deceptively simple, she sticks to the point and never gets bogged down in big tirades or descriptive passages, but they still truly satisfy and reach the parts that most 'easy' reads cannot. They make you think about human nature and take you out of yourself and best of all the characters, even when they have difficulties, have this sort of joy that sometimes bubbles up to the surface, triggered off by a small pleasure like enjoying a cup of tea or a conversation or something beautiful, and so they are happy stories to read and put a spring in your step. She's a bit like the literary equivalent of Macy Gray!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars 26 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An amazing storyteller! 19 April 2000
By CoffeeGurl - Published on
Format: Paperback
I am very pleased with Banana's work so far. Her ability to write beautiful and touching stories is admirable. I love "Kitchen" and "NP", and now, "Lizard."
Even though this is not Banana's best work, it is a fun and enjoyable read. All five stories have a similar theme: spirituality and self-discovery. Like her previous books, Banana touches on the more human and spiritual aspects of the characters' lives. My favorite stories are "Newlywed," "Dreaming of Kimchee," "A Strange Tale from Down by the River," and "Helix." Each story had a touch of magic realism, which is something I love in literature. They were beautiful and surreal. Banana has a way with words. I hope to read a new Banana Yoshimoto novel soon.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic empathic display 21 Mar. 2001
By K. Brown - Published on
Format: Paperback
I became a Banana fan upon reading the first chapter of her novel NP. I bought "Lizard" immediately after I finished NP, resisting the temptation to set high hopes that my second look at Yoshimoto's work would cast the same spell at me. To my surprise, "Lizard" has become one of my favorite short story compilations. I find myself reading many of the tales repeatedly; the last time a short story collection gave me a similar buzz was nearly twenty years ago, when I discovered JD Salinger's "Nine Stories." What strikes me most about Banana Yoshimoto is her empathic voice when she writes from a male viewpoint in the first person. When I read these tales, I feel like Ms. Yoshimoto tries to understand what goes through the minds and emotions of contemporary men. The only other female author who rings my bell (so far) in this respect is Willa Cather. I believe it's a tricky balancing act to write from the perspective of the opposite sex and have it ring true. All stories in this book are vivid and thoughtful, but the title story is the strongest of all. A young man shows us both the gentle strength and fragile secrets inside the girlfriend he nicknames "Lizard." In the same beat he shows us his strength and vulnerability, yet never loses focus on Lizard. I have become a great admirer of Banana Yoshimoto over the past three years. This collection is a great introduction for any reader who wants to give her work a read.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Certainly the work of a talented author, but... 30 Dec. 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you're in the mood for a classic, Lizard will disappoint. But if you'd like something that won't demand much mental energy but isn't too fluffy, Lizard might just be the ticket. (One of her stories was even serialized in the Tokyo subway system.)
Banana Yoshimoto is certainly a talented writer, and it shows in Lizard. There are many passages that grab you in this collection of short stories. These passages are artfully written: they capture the moment, deceptively simple-sounding yet profoundly resonant. Very easy to read, but not very easy to truly understand. You'll want to savor them over and over.
Yet most of her characters are rather two-dimensional. She brings up a lot of issues about living in today's world, with all of its loneliness and moral ambiguities, yet never fully explores all the issues that she brings up. Each of these short stories could be extended into a novella or a novel, and in my opinion, Yoshimoto should have done so. She often answers complicating issues with cop-out plot twists or well-written but overly brief assessments, instead of more fully examining their implications; thus she compromises the plausibility of her stories.
The genre of magic realism -- which I'd define as works that are basically of the often-gritty realist tradition, but include some elements borrowed from science fiction, fantasy, and mythology -- has much potential, and Yoshimoto has certainly scratched its surface in Lizard.
Yoshimoto has a clean, simple writing style and sensitivity towards things of beauty and truth. If you can overlook plot and character flaws, and appreciate these stories for their beautiful moments, you might like Lizard. Otherwise, look elsewhere.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Understanding is a wonderful thing 29 Mar. 2005
By the whimsy cat - Published on
Format: Paperback
The second of Yoshimoto's books I read, the first being Goodbye Tsugumi. Lizard is a collection of six short stories that makes a rather light and breezy read.

There are no heroes or villains, no twisting plots nor gut-wrenching emotions, just ordinary urban folks, mostly with rather unusual past and/or lifestyles, living in an everyday world.

Gentle, contemplative and optimistic about the quirks of human lives, Lizard touches on the beauty of the moment and the uncertainty of life, on fate, on the past that eats into the future, but also on the future that illuminates the past in a different light.

In Yoshimoto's stories lie the moments of realization that perhaps after all that life has put you through, it may still make sense after all. Combine this with the esoteric leanings of the book in forms of supernatural intervention, power to heal and to will death, utopian village, and such divine understanding between lovers, Lizard ends up feeling slightly light-weight.

Still, Lizard is simple and charming in a disconcerting way, like being out there in seemingly calm waters suspecting there is an undertow going on beneath the surface.

In one of the short stories, the protagonist muses about his girlfriend:

"She screwed them shut and searched for just the right word, and finally (in fact, it probably didn't take more than a second or two) her eyes would open up wide, and she'd be her usual lucid self again. She'd say something like "Understanding is a wonderful thing.

You can't get more straightforward than that, I'd think, but I didn't hold it against her. In fact, I considered her simplicity a great merit, and despaired my lack of similar virtues."

Less straightforward or otherwise, I hear the other stories echo "Understanding is a wonderful thing."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lizard doesn't crawl far 12 Jun. 2007
By Bob Newman - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you wanted to know what kind of literature appeals to the average Japanese female reader of the "me" generation, I might recommend Banana Yoshimoto's slender book of stories, LIZARD. Not that I have my finger so firmly on the pulse of Japanese popular culture, but after reading the book in question, I concluded that that must be the audience she had in mind. They are soft, self-absorbed, rather tentative, sad stories of life at the edges of middle class existence in modern Japan. I imagine housewives and secretaries devouring these stories, identifying the longing, the unhappiness, and the sense of alienation with themselves. However, I'm not going to sit here and pan LIZARD entirely. It might be very good if you're looking for a bit of light reading that still deals with human understanding rather than tales of power, money, and sex. The author is no doubt a thoughtful person and tries to construct stories that make you think. If that's the sort of literature that appeals, then this could be a five star book for you. If you prefer more substantive material---the kind that opens up a world or deals with issues that affect everyone---I doubt if Yoshimoto's writing will go down very well. If you liked her "Kitchen", you'll probably like LIZARD even more, because I would say that the writer has improved her skills, upgraded her tone, and got more of an emotional range. Still, this is the kind of book that, one week after you finish reading it, has totally vanished from your mind, leaving little impression.

"Mom was in a state of shock for a while after that [a crazy man stabbed her mother]. I lost my eyesight, and Dad became compulsive about keeping the house locked up. It was a nightmare. But after a while, my sight came back, Mom started going out by herself, shopping and stuff, and Dad could actually leave home without checking all seven locks he'd installed. But it took years before things really returned to normal." (p.37)

Quite matter of fact for such dramatic events. Rather it makes you say, as though you see a very cute kitten....ohhhhhh. Little description, mainly just dialogue or inner conversation by people who aren't very deep or original. It doesn't challenge. Rather it makes you feel that you aren't so dumb after all. Sorry. Banana Yoshimoto is definitely not for me.
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