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.
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...
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!
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!