Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto

"Asleep" by Banana Yoshimoto (translated from the Japanese by Michael Emmerich)

Asleep is a collection of three stories: Night and Night's Travellers, Love Songs, Asleep. 
All three deal with bereavement and the feelings of drifting in and out of consciousness it brings, finding oneself in a state of not quite being awake. 

All characters have lost a person very dear to them. They try to help each other to bear the pain in superbly gentle, silent & tender ways. Each character is in a state of trance or haze and their dreams are a means through which their consciousness tries to reach out beyond the pain, and to return to a sense of normality, wounded but at peace and in acceptance of the blows of fate.

Night and Night's travellers, Shibami has lost a brother, Mari has lost the love of her life. It is through a dream that Mari will sense a truth and perhaps a way beyond bereavement.

Love Songs, Fumi's friend comes to her in a dream, it will offer her a way toward peace.

Asleep, the narrator slowly falls into a state of unconsciousness after the death of her best friend. A warning & help come to her in a dream. Will she listen or is it too late?

As in Kitchen, Yoshimoto explores the aftermath of death, loss and the state of bereavement. Her exploration of the function of dreams, of being stuck in between​ two worlds are the themes I love so much in Haruki Murakami. .

Yoshimoto is a wonderful author. I wish I could read her in the original Japanese. Asleep is a 4/5 for me 😇

Saturday, 14 January 2017

England Made Me by Graham Greene

I've just finished England Made Me by Graham Greene and am so shaken by it.

It was a strange read, and reminded me of The Evenings by Gerard Reve in that it built a formidable tension in a seemingly static setting.

England made me is introspective, slow in action although I now know it was a false sense of slowness, Greene had caught me so intensely into the internal dialogues & tragedies of each character that I failed to hear the ticking of fate's clock. So when the clock did strike, I was caught totally unawares, and as in life, with hindsight I can see that Greene had given all the clues. Not one of this novel's character was flat or neglected, each was beautifully studied, particularly the relationship that binds twins, whether they like it or not. .

If you prefer action packed and fast-paced stories you might feel a little impatient with this story but if you can handle slow for 200 pages, then a deeply affecting novel awaits.

Warning: if like me the weather in novels really affects you, be warned that this story in set in Sweden under the rain, so prepare a hot water bottle & a blanket.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

The Curious Incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon

Thanks to a strike today, I read Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the dog in the night-time in one day, in strange & successive sittings (at home waiting for the tube, at the tube station, in the interrupted tube, in the bus, in the second bus because the first bus cancelled stations due to the strike, in the third bus and finally in front of a strong coffee!)

And what a fresh, surprising & serious read it was.

The story is told by 15 year-old Christopher who has Asperger's syndrome. After Christopher finds Wellington the dog murdered, he decides to find the killer. He writes a book of his investigation keeping a record of clues & events to solve the case as if it were a mathematical formulae. Christopher is so logical and truthful that he will find coping with the secrets & lies he will unearth a thorough challenge. .

This novel is a tribute to those who think differently but who are not different than anyone else.

I did find the maths style a little trying towards the end. But that maybe because I'm rubbish at maths & was getting frustrated with the commute situation. A wonderful, inspiring read.