Title: Asleep by: Banana Yoshimoto
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.
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,
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 🙂