Wednesday, 19 March 2008
I thought this would be my last book of the blog-year but I think I'll have time to sneak another one in, especially because there's a long weekend coming up. I feel like I've been cheating a little here - all the books I've read lately have been really short. In the case of Banana Yoshimoto's Goodbye Tsugumi, though, I am thankful for brevity.
When I was in first-year university at Dal, Yoshimoto was the flavour of the month and so I stubbornly refused to check out her stuff. I felt then what I felt more recently about The Da Vinci Code - I find it hard to trust hype that big. But I am, as you know, a devotee of Japanese literature and so had to come back to her at some point. A cheap copy of Goodbye Tsugumi on a remainder pile signaled the end of my resistance.
My instincts were right (although not as joyfully and viciously right as they were with Cormac McCarthy - hence this very boring post). Yoshimoto, at least as represented by this book, is over-rated. But maybe not highly over-rated; really, there's nothing infuriating, annoying, or seriously mock-worthy about this book - it's just a damned big bore.
The title character is a foul-mouthed little freak whom everyone coddles because she's sickly and closer to death than other folks. I didn't find her annoying, but neither did I find her in any way compelling, as all the other characters do. I didn't feel any empathy at all for any of their situations. I've never been so emotionally unaffected by a book in my life. I didn't care when I was reading and I don't now and I suspect this means I'll very soon forget the plot details.
(NB: while I didn't have any emotional reaction to the book, I have always had and continue to have a very negative emotional reaction to the name "Banana." Yoshimoto changed her name to Banana when she was an adult because she thought it was "cute" - that sounds like the choice of a 14-year old, not an adult. And doesn't she get that the word "banana" when applied to Asians, has less than complimentary connotations? Stupid, stupid, stupid! Grrr!)
Posted by Bookphilia at 23:21
Labels: 86, Banana Yoshimoto, Japan
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