R&R 011 | Hardboiled & Hard Luck
Hardboiled & Hard Luck
Grove Press, 2006
Cover design by Gretchen Mergenthaler
Cover painting by Yoshimoto Nara
Book bought in: New York City
While I am usually hesitant, or even unwilling, to buy a new book that is not only really thin, but is also designed to have as little text as possible on one page, what I have heard about Banana Yoshimoto convinced me nonetheless to go ahead with the purchase of â€œHardboiled & Hard Luckâ€.
Size, after all, shouldnâ€™t matter.
In the first story â€œHardboiledâ€, the narrator â€“ a strong female presence â€“ finds herself in a small hotel after a long hike in the mountains. There, the memory of a loved one haunts her dreams, keeping her from finding rest at night â€“ a night already interrupted by another mysterious hotel guest in need of her help.
Right from the beginning of â€œHardboiledâ€, I felt myself drawn into the atmosphere, created without the use of abundant descriptions. Yoshimoto has the talent to set moods in her stories by using a limited amount of words and careful narration. No images drawn, photos taken, could really do justice to the mood and surroundings conjured up within the readerâ€™s imagination.
In the case of â€œHardboiledâ€, the mood was mystical and dark, but holding a sense of magical wonder â€“ a beautiful juxtaposition.
Knowing the already small book comprised of two stories, I was sad to say goodbye to â€œHardboiledâ€ as it came to an end, because that would mean Iâ€™d have to leave that atmosphere behind.
I was wrong, however, in assuming â€œHard Luckâ€ would be lacking compared to â€œHardboiledâ€; on the contrary. It was better.
Yoshimoto allows another female narrator to share her thoughts as she deals with her dear sisterâ€™s comatose state â€“ without any hope of her ever waking up. A different juxtaposition occurs in this story; while mourning the inevitable loss of a sisterly relationship, the narrator finds comfort in forming a bond with the brother of her sisterâ€™s fiancÃ©.
Yoshimoto, in both stories (but in the last one especially), touches on the subject of tragedy without allowing for sentimentality. Instead, there is a wisdom about her writing, a quiet acceptance.
Leaving me seriously impressed, especially after finishing the second story, Yoshimoto proves that sometimes, less really is more.
February 26th 2008
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