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Goodbye Tsugumi
Goodbye Tsugumi
by Banana Yoshimoto
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving book that is matched only by Kitchen, 23 Feb. 2003
This review is from: Goodbye Tsugumi (Paperback)
Together with Kitchen, Goodbye Tsugumi shows Banana Yoshimoto's clear ability to make the mundane glorious and the supernatural and unbelievably unlikely commonplace and plausible.
It is strange how such ordinary events as descibed in this book can be so enthralling, and Yoshimoto creates precise pictures of moods like no other author I have read can.
The paradoxical concept of an amazingly frail but boisterous and arrogant girl is put across to the reader so that you adopt Maria, the main character's opinions on her - it is a love-hate relationship that is only resolved towards the end of the book.
It is impossible to describe what makes this book so intense to read and so enjoyable, but perhaps it is the unpredictability of the plot or Yoshimoto's trademark lucid descriptions. It could even be down to something as frivolous as the 'special' typeface and wide line spacing which make the book so pleasurable and easy to read, even to a sceptic such as myself.
This book should be read in as few sittings as possible.

by Banana Yoshimoto
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible, a true understated masterpiece, 23 Feb. 2003
This review is from: Kitchen (Paperback)
It is this book that Banana Yoshimoto first enthralled me with. I read it in two sittings and in it she creates an incredible image of Japanese life. Though written a couple of decades ago, it is timeless, and the ordinary treatment of Mikage's strikingly different Japanese lifestyle makes this so unique to a Westerner such as myself. Though the subjects are apparently bland, there is always a slight air of the supernatural in the way the events are put forward, and the prose is enchanting - there is the very real possibility of both laughing and crying with genuine sadness within two pages of each other!
It is hard to write about a book I love so much without bias, but it is truly difficult to find any flaws in the book. Perhaps the second tale is a little contrived and the jump between them is bewildering as there is little introduction to the second tale, but this may perhaps be intentional.
The subject of food and kitchens is one that I could easily relate to, even across the continental divide and even though I am not a particular 'foodie'. It is the incredible description of a kitchen that can really make you stop reading and think, not of any particular image of a kitchen, but of the exact mood you know Mikage feels as she dreams of her old kitchen and steps into her new, foreign but friendly kitchen. The way Banana Yoshimoto elevates the kitchen to such high importance is amazing.
The whole episode of going out in the middle of the night and chancing upon an incredibly good take-away restaurant and then going hundreds of miles by taxi and climbing up the side of a hotel to deliver some food is incredibly ridiculous, but it is because the author seems to agree 'isn't this strange?' that you have to laugh even when the twisted tale gets more and more distressing.
It is a dumbfounding book.

Fragments Of Freedom
Fragments Of Freedom
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £1.30

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sharp, rhythmic, deliberate and happy album., 23 Feb. 2003
This review is from: Fragments Of Freedom (Audio CD)
This is a very light-hearted alsum - all the songs are upbeat, and there is a party, calypso-feel to many of the songs. The style is drastically different to Big Calm and Who Can You Trust - it verges on Electro-Pop/Dance rather than the fairly dark, trippy styles of the other two albums. It is the top of the 'jollity' sequence of Fragments>Big Calm>Trust which is great for an uplifting experience but can seem immature in places though shamelessly so! It is for this reason I am not awarding 5 stars to an otherwise flawless album.
Some of the background riffs are almost 80's techno-ish, especially in the incredibly happy Shallow End, which makes the PERFECT music for driving through tunnels!
Only the seemingly sloppy-in-comparison title track fails to retain the magnificent rhythmic drive of the rest of the album, but this is perhaps because it could be intended as a wind-down track, being at the end of the album.
One last thing: 'Love Is Rare' is very tacky, but there is no denying that that is exactly how the band intended it to be.
Overall a fine, rhythmic, laid back and shamelessly happy album which is more suited to Summer than Winter.

Who Can You Trust
Who Can You Trust
Price: £2.40

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very dark, almost background., 23 Feb. 2003
This review is from: Who Can You Trust (Audio CD)
This album is tricky to review. Its style is almost pure laziness, but the songs are very slickly produced. It is very moody and dark, and the album cover picture perfectly defines the content of the CD (not that it is mostly blank or anything!) The songs seem to blend into each other and create an overall moody 'soundtrack' - it is not so much an album you listen to in a focused, attentive way, more of a background music disc, though this does not do justice to the work put into this album.
The mix of Skye's maple-syrup, slinky, low vocals and the urban touches to the backing put in by the two DJ members of the band, along with the laid back drumming and slidey guitar and the seemingly Asian influences make this a truly unique album.

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