There are many days when all the awful things that happen make you sick at heart, when the path before you is so steep you can’t bear to look. Not eve
There are many days when all the awful things that happen make you sick at heart, when the path before you is so steep you can’t bear to look. Not even love can rescue a person from that. (p. 42)
Kitchen is a delightful little collection of stories (two of them, to be exact, “Kitchen” and “Moonlight Shadow”) that deals with death and overcoming the overwhelming sense of loss and despair that follow. Maybe “delightful” is the wrong word to be using, but it’s surprisingly not that far off.
The two stories collected here are about women grieving after the death of a loved one--certainly a depressing subject matter but also one that is handled gracefully by Yoshimoto, who effortlessly shifts the stories to a small place of hope before ending with such a sense of optimism that one has to marvel at the craft displayed here. I wondered at how strange this felt to me, that such a dark exploration of death could somehow bring me happiness. But then I realized, why should this feel strange? Why are there not more stories that gives a person this sense of hope? I don’t know the answer to that one, but I feel that the way this subject matter is treated may be one of the reasons Kitchen is worth reading.
At first I was thrown off guard because both of our protagonists sounded like such valley girls (“Bad as it sounds, it was like I was possessed. His attitude was so totally 'cool,' though, I felt I could trust him.”), but it’s not long before Banana Yoshimoto proves herself as a deft writer who is capable of exploring the despair and hope felt in these stories. Worth a read, especially since it’s so short.
In this world there is no place for sadness. Not one. (p. 23)
The first story of this collection really impressed me, the rest that I read were sort of "meh." Somewhat average stories, despite the interesting setThe first story of this collection really impressed me, the rest that I read were sort of "meh." Somewhat average stories, despite the interesting setting of the American Southwest. ...more
Difficult Loves is a collection of short stories split into four sections: Riviera Stories, Wartime Stories, Post-war Stories, and Stories of Love andDifficult Loves is a collection of short stories split into four sections: Riviera Stories, Wartime Stories, Post-war Stories, and Stories of Love and Loneliness. I’ve heard that each story is supposed to deal with some form of love, but I’m not sure this is true. Regardless, these stories are fine and unexpected. I’m particularly fond of the Riviera Stories section-- in one story, a gang of young boys explore a crab-infested ship; in another a young man tries to woo a girl by giving her a cornucopia of slimy animals. Not all stories are so carefree-- the Wartime section in particular. A man must navigate a mine field in one story, and in another a soldier must hide from a sharpshooting young boy. The Stories of Love and Loneliness are also excellent and emotionally rich.
This book’s writing is not as mature as If on a winter’s night a traveler or Invisible Cities, more in line with The Baron in the Trees perhaps, but there are still gems that predict what is to come in Calvino’s writings. It’s a good collection with some memorable stories, and some aren’t. But these stories still shine with Calvino’s talent; they are filled with love and truth. ...more