Book Thoughts: Asleep

Title: Asleep by: Banana Yoshimoto

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I think I grew fond of Banana Yoshimoto’s writing ever since I read her ‘Kitchen’.

No, scratch that…enchanted by it.

Not only did I read her ‘Kitchen’ but I also read her ‘The Lake’ and I think I can come up with some kind of conclusion which is, even if she had the simplest story to tell, she creates or envelopes it with tremendous story telling through the use of emotions and feelings of the character which you wouldn’t mind at all. Gradually you are lead to a trance. And the next thing you know, you’re done and you realized…’Hey! Isn’t it just like a simple story’ but she made you feel like her characters were just a friend who wanted to talk to you and stayed in the coffee shop for hours just listening to her story or the video camera man, constantly following around the reality star who keeps talking to the camera as she goes doing her own thing.

 That feeling is still present on this book. However, it isn’t like ‘Kitchen’ or ‘The Lake’ in terms of the ending. Well…it didn’t really have a solid ending. It was pretty much like a wide and vast open ending.

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To be honest, it lived up to its title. In this book, there are three stories and in all of them, they are all an open ending. When you read it, it’s as if you’re in a dream. Floating, and slowly learning about your surrounding until it seemed so real then as you keep turning your page you come to a halt because it’s all done. POOOF you wake up. The next thing you know your hand just flipped the next page and you’re welcomed by a new story. You realize that you were ‘Asleep’ the whole time.

Even if the endings of these short stories were an open ending, I think the full point of Yoshimoto was what the character felt on those certain circumstances. That agony, the grief, the longing, the ‘what if’s’, the reminiscing, the wondering and many more other emotions we could never describe. She describes it perfectly with a zen feeling. I don’t know how to describe it, but…really just so brilliantly done.

Usually, I am not a huge fan of books, wherein the author describes the setting with great detail. Sometimes to the point it took 2 long paragraphs just to describe it. To be honest I would find myself, shouting at the innocent book in front of me saying: “JUST GET ON WITH IT! JUST START WITH A CONVERSATION WILL YOU?!” I love books, in plain words really, I ADORE STORIES SO MUCH. But c’mon, really? Describing the setting with so much detail…that you’d describe each creases of the wallpaper, how dark and menacing each of the windows looked…blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah… So…yes…sorry… in short… I am not a fan of those kinds of work. But don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to describe it but in FULL DETAIL, noooope!

However, Yoshimoto is one of a kind. In all the books I’ve read…authors I’ve encountered, she was the only one who described the characters feelings in great detail. I hate describing something (in FULL DETAIL) …but…describing feelings… raw emotions… that is wow! She does not describe the whole emotions in one go. Well, she does describe it in a paragraph but she knows how to handle it. She has this incredible way of storytelling it.

How should I describe it? She’s like one of those sushi masters of some sort. She carefully, gently and skillfully slices the pieces as she makes them. For some sushi masters it looks appealing and perfect but as you taste it, it just seems ordinary but you know, still good enough. But for Master Yoshimoto, not only do you know it is good, you know it is handled well to the brim of perfection and you know you’re in a load of treat. It’s that mouthwatering and satisfying.

The use of emotions isn’t quite finished in that aspect. This was another thing I loved and adored about Yoshimoto. . Not only did she describe with sensitivity and elegance the emotions of the characters but utilized the concept of emotions more to give another perspective of the vast picture illustrated. Most people would address incest as something of a “great a shock”, a uncomfortable topic to discuss, a taboo really. Well, I am not really like an over-reacting kind of person when it comes to this but yes, I’d be shocked and think twice reading this kind of thing. Surprise, surprise… one of her stories dealt with it. However, with her amazing storytelling, at first as I read the story, it was just about a sister talking about her dear brother and how he had a foreigner girlfriend. Then Yoshimoto introduced not only there were siblings but a close (girl) cousin when they were kids. Then talked about the brother that actually he died and how he was close to the cousin. Then goes back to the brother and the foreigner girlfriend story. This goes on and on… just as I said…slowly pealing it off…then BAAAAAAM! Ohya, did I mention the brother and the cousin had this bond…that turned into love?

 Yoshimoto, slowly peeled the story for us readers not to concentrate on the “taboo” but to the feelings…the strong connection that grew and blossomed into something we called ‘love’ that we cannot see if the “taboo” topic was brought into hand at the first part of the story. What she did was introducing us to two characters then describes their emotions back and forth in the past then back to the future. Then as the readers understood and are engrossed with the emotions, she gave the blow…not in a bomb kind of BOOOOM but as a sushi master slowly introducing to the spectators a meal never seen before…a sushi platter they never knew existed or they knew it did but placed at the back of their heads and sealed it tightly hoping it would never draw to see the light of day.

 And in that method, she also made it more tragic. As the readers in the first few parts are introduced to the characters then ever so slowly are made to understand the feelings of these characters, the blow was made however it does not end there. Despite the blow…the “big reveal” that these two people are in love, they kept going on with the relationship and as they sunk into that dangerous road, there our characters are faced with what they were dealing in the beginning- the death of the brother. Because of the dangerous game the brother and the cousin played, it had an equally horrible outcome and that is more devastating to feel for the cousin. That was the big BOOOOOM! Yoshimoto wanted us to feel not the “taboo” but this huge grief and guilt this cousin…this sleepwalker…this character had to endure to finally find peace within herself and be in the state of being “Asleep”.

So to summarize…YES! I loved the book! It didn’t have that ending we readers usually hoped for but it was refreshing once again to experience another side of the story.

 Til next time again,

easie peasie

P.S.

Sorry for the loooong wait! 😛 It kinda took me so long to illustrate zeee images I upload together with my posts! 😛 I was planning to make 2 more but couldn’t finish them. So, I only made these! 😛 Hope you like them! I shall try making more for the next new posts I’ll be posting 🙂

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Book Thoughts: Animal Farm

Animal Farm Title

Title: Animal Farm By: George Orwell

I’ve only gotten a hold of this book this year and I am ashamed to say that this was recommended to me like two years ago. *Puts the cone of shame and stays in a corner* Man, I missed a lot of it. But still it’s better late than ever, right?

I… I just cannot believe it. I’ve reacted so many times while reading this masterpiece. Still, until now I’ve got so many feels that I don’t know which one to discuss first.

One thing is for sure, in this exquisite book, it seemed the animals were more humane than the human. I felt bad for the animals more than the humans (and eventually the pigs). It was a treat and at the same time heartbreaking and full of disgust at the first chapter when Old dear Major made his speech. What it made it more effective was how Orwells, made you see in the point of view of these animals we as humans see as nothing more as pets, sadly food or simply put as animals..something lower than us, which technically it is true because we have a more higher intellect, right? But Orwells placed a humane thing in them. Seeing in their own eyes how it is to be animals and make it so brutally honest. And right then there, BAAM! You’re hooked on these animals. You feel for them in instant.

Usually, once you’re readers are hooked…feel for the characters…sympathize with them…it’s hard to consistently keep them sympathetic to them throughout the story. Well, for me that is. Hehe  Actually even if you do feel for this animals you have that rooting for them in the end. It had that combination, ‘I feel for you and support you no matter what’ and you’re just with them throughout the story. And I think, Orwell wanted you as readers be hooked to them in the sympathetic level but to the support system level as well because Orwell has a lot on his bag of tricks for this book.

You see, in this book, there is no happy ending. Yes, you’d think, ‘that’s so sad. How awful. Why?’ However, I think otherwise, as sad as it maybe it’s effective and it’s pretty much slowly opening a carefully wrapped plastic see through of raw meat and once it’s opened even though you know how it looks like, how it feels like, how deeply you know how it will turn out in the end, you get this surprise and shock at the end. Because we all  know, even if that meat is gorgeous it is going to the boiling hot water.

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From a rebellion for freedom and equality it slowly escalated to coming back to what was once the animals feared. For the reader it was so obvious that the things the pigs were doing or saying were lies and deceiving the poor animals the reader soon loved and root for.  I think the interesting thing about this was how Orwell stayed true on his characters- the animals. We all know animals aren’t as smart as humans are. With this in mind, Orwell made use of that in this book and resulted on us readers to be frustrated for our beloved characters not to see what was happening to them. And I guess that’s the thing, Orwell wanted to comment on those times he saw the big picture that is happening in the world, apparently the world is inside this big snow globe and the glass is way to thick for Orwell to shout out at us and say: ‘HEEEEEY! Wake you fooools!’

It’s ironic how at first the animals want to be equal, free and to be better beings than the humans. Had that idealistic approach to life and then a superior animal takes advantage of everyone and then in the end, he attained still as an animal. What an animal is… what we humans really sometimes see them…savage creatures. To think many people think a snake is a good representative of a liar, sly, traitor. But a pig? Oh wow! That’s a new level of it sir Orwells! *clap* *clap* *clap* It’s an interesting choice, I mean I do hear that they are smart creatures. However, I didn’t think a pig was a villainous choice. Then again, I was surprised. Maybe that element of surprise was Orwell’s point. He wanted a character no one was thinking will be sly and horrible. He wanted the readers to be surprised as his other characters was.

I still got lots of things to discuss…about what I felt on this lovely book however, I think it will take a long time to finish. I do want to share this part that struck and got me to ponder. (This might be a bit long..hehe)

Never had the farm-and with a kind of surprise they remembered that it was their own farm, every inch of it their own property –appeared to the animals so desirable a place…’ (Animal Farm p.61)

If she could have spoken her thoughts, it would have been to say that this was not what they have aimed at when they had set themselves years ago to work for the overthrow of the human race. These scenes of terror and slaughter were not what they had looked forward to on that night when old Major first stirred them to rebellion. If she herself had any picture of the future, it had been of a society of animals set free from hunger and the whip, all equal, each working according to his capacity, the strong protecting the weak, as she protected the lost brood of ducklings with her foreleg on the night of Major’s speech. Instead- she did not know why-they had come to a time when no one dared speak his min, when fierce, growling dogs roamed everywhere, and when you had to watch your comrades torn to pieces after confessing to shocking crimes. There was no thought of rebellion or disobedience in her mind. She knew that, even as things were, they were far better off than they had been in the days of Jones.” (Animal Farm p.61)

This part of the book, struck me. Clover was in her contemplating moment. A moment or reflection you as a reader would think…’go on ahead…keep going…you’re almost there. You’re getting’ it and then just like that…gone. Lost again. She was that close to realizing something important and then goes back to… “No…let’s just do this. Keep doing it.” It makes you cringe; it makes you cry out of frustration but see, that’s the thing. Orwell wanted to show not only the cruelty of having a tyrant taking advantage of the people but the view of the blinded people or rather in here- animals. It’s a comment of how Orwell sees the people too. Some people, they rebel do all what they can, some people are just not that smart enough to put the pieces together and blindly follow, some have the pieces together but they keep on following denying to themselves that this is better than the other evil.

It’s heartbreaking and it’s the sad truth.

In the end, of course, I’ll definitely say this book was a great read! Simple yet makes you think and ponder with so many things.

Hopefully for my next insights it would be comics! 🙂

Til, next time

easie peasie