Banana Man (a Novella)


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Vulnerable to your own unconscious with its own unpredictable will to never give up control to your conscious mind. This book is dedicated to capturing that urge, that small pull that goads us to surrender. Like a whisper quiet yet impactful, this collection subtly demonstrates our latent desire to destroy ourselves triggered by the different wounds we are bleeding from.

The Banana Story

From the first story of a lover unable to move on with her life after the death of her beloved, to that of a girl trying so hard to hold precious memories of a friend she does not want to forget, and finally a woman who uses sleep to escape her problems, all show an abandon to their consciousness whether through grief, intoxication, or slumber.

All experience this sensation, this instinctive call of mortality, and the brief glimpses in the journeys of these three women show the temptation that we endure from the deep darkness that resides untapped within us. Something about this collection feels ethereal, almost invisible, and even fleeting. But despite the atmosphere it creates, the words, as I read them, were grounded and real. There were times when I was reading and I felt the words access emotions that would creep into my veins and run up my arm like a chill, brief but palpable.

I was taking a short but needed vacation in the mountains when I read this, so I read it in a very cold place and I was in a very relaxed state of mind.


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It probably made the experience much richer than had I read it anywhere else. Nighttime has always been fascinating to me with its deep loneliness engulfing everything it can touch, a time dark and mysterious rife with possibilities both dangerous and addictive. The intoxicating sensuality that dictates its pace is something to marvel but be wary of.

A canvas perfectly dark, yet at the heart of this Banana Yoshimoto novel lies the emptiness that people feel during this veiled time. Her characters are bleeding black paint out of cuts all deadly yet diffused.

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From grief, mourning, and even just demotivation, her heroines are cold, shrouded, and violently introspective. Maybe this is why the call of destruction from their unconscious is infinitely more pronounced. But that is not all consciousness has to offer.


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With our awareness and exposure to pain, comes a host of vulnerability to other emotions, sensations, and experiences. Rest is good. Sleep is great. But always remember to wake up. Observe the exquisite swaying of your shadow. Feel that jolt of cold air as it dances around your face. Life is too beautiful to be spent unconscious, open your eyes.

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Asleep is the underside of the pillow left unexplored. Try its cold touch. View all 18 comments. Nov 26, Zanna rated it really liked it Shelves: year-reading-women , bechdel-pass , translated , short-fiction. I find Banana Yoshimoto's style so distinctive, full of feelings and sensations expressed with touching openness, so unassuming and informal. Under this limpid surface, as under the millpond skin of fairytale, meanings proliferate like living fishes, flickering in and out of view.

The story is gifted to the reader with humble generosity; I have this for you, the giver says, and what you'll use it for isn't up to me. There are some moments when corroborations give the little narratives what feels to me li I find Banana Yoshimoto's style so distinctive, full of feelings and sensations expressed with touching openness, so unassuming and informal. There are some moments when corroborations give the little narratives what feels to me like an overly neat coherence, those times when Yoshimoto reminds me, unfortunately, of Milan Kundera. Yet even when I feel this way, as when Fumi touches the handle of the forbidden door and feels its terrible energy, the impression is diffused by the incidental accidental heartbreaking quality of the detail, which brings to my mind probably inappropriately Roland Barthes' idea of 'the filmic'.

Why does the stuffy little room where the dead meet the living have worn red sofas? Is this room, with its tired, heavy familiarity, recognisably a product of a distinctively Japanese imagination? Terako's descent into permanent sleepiness seems to parallel both the troubles of her friend Shiori and the comatose wife of her boyfriend, but the links between them are loose like the co-incidences of real life that we read according to our various standpoints, transformed by the infusion of Yoshimoto's feel for symmetry and symbiosis, her making-whole of the world.

The resolution worked with difficulty and help by Terako seems wrought out of a creative fusion of folklore and modern lifestyles. Spiritual places and people are never more remote than the other side of a shadow here, and though they are sometimes scary, contact with them is associate with Yoshimoto's theme of returning to health , perhaps in the way that Giorgio de Chirico described the world as convalescent the day he went out recovering from illness and had a vision he painted so many times afterwards.

It extends from structures to interactions, so sweetly simple, open and direct in a way people in my own culture never seem to be, and into relationships, where people seem to take deep, honest pleasure in each other, in shared moments however trivial. I read to learn. All three stories have female narrators, and reflect positively on relationships between women. In that, and in the warm, uncluttered relationships between brothers and sisters, girlfriends and boyfriends, they are a relief, fresh air. They extend an invitation to feel differently, through the senses and through the heart however wounded, to feel simply and attend to the blissful comfort of soft sand under your bare toes or a sweet memory drifting into a dream, and then to take than receptiveness to pleasure into all your relationships.

It's true I think that Banana Yoshimoto's narrator is always the same person, for all her interiority and however much her names, background, circumstances and impulses vary, her voice doesn't. One reviewer calls it the voice of a generation, of Tokyo youth. This class strikes me as privileged and self-absorbed, but I can't help but admire the avidity and passion they invest in such activities as waking from sleep or planning a date, I can't help but be smitten by their mutualism, their joy in each other.

The insulated, private experience Yoshimoto so fluidly communicates resonates in me a certain nostalgia for my fairly unhappy teens. It reminds me that sometimes just holding it together, just getting through the day, is enough of a victory. This nostalgia reminds us that we need our age-mates. View all 10 comments. I didn't enjoy this book quite as much but it was still fun to read. She writes of contemporary life but also dips into magical realism. The book follows three different women who are bewitched in some way into a spiritual sleep- one finds herself sleepwalking at night, one finds her sleep haunted by the ghost of a woman whom she was once pitted against in a love triangl 3.

The book follows three different women who are bewitched in some way into a spiritual sleep- one finds herself sleepwalking at night, one finds her sleep haunted by the ghost of a woman whom she was once pitted against in a love triangle and the third in a relationship with a man whose wife is in a coma finds herself suddenly unable to stay awake.

Each of the three stories were charming in their own way. They had a magical quality about them. The young women in each story were interesting and likeable as protagonists. The writing was the strongest point of the book for me, as it was with Banana's other work.

Short Story Friendship - The Banana Story

She writes about contemporary life in a clear and concise way that conjures up vivid images. I found myself getting lost in descriptions of mundane things; doing laundry, getting dinner, going for walks. The internal monologues of the characters were wonderful as well. They pondered their situation as well as the people and things around them with a realistic clarity that was refreshing. Sometimes book characters can feel quite fake but I really liked all of the characters in this book. Can say with confidence that I'll read more of her work in the future because I think she is clever with her words and writes fun stories.

Definitely recommend this for people looking to get into Japanese fiction. May 06, Paltia rated it really liked it. Three stories that tell of young women who are waiting. They wait for whatever they believe will make everything all right in their worlds. Sometimes sleep helps them wait.

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The various states of slumber are both mysterious and magical. Each character looks for a way to remain calm and find their peace while dealing with guilt, ghosts and loss. They are at home in the world of vis Three stories that tell of young women who are waiting.

They are at home in the world of visions and dreams. They come to learn the unique qualities of friendships with other women, discovering this as a necessary part of a whole. They guide one another to determine what sacrifices, if any, a person might make to find a way forward.

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The writing is both exhilarating and tranquil. At times crystal clear, at times indecisive but always persuasive. They wait, sleep and evolve. Stories that ask the reader to take the time out of time, to look back, reflect on what was, and realize what may be, all the while painting a gorgeous picture of their minds. Listen to what the characters have to say to themselves in the silence - asleep or awake. Jul 03, Angela rated it liked it Shelves: japanese-authors. I don't really know what to say about Asleep.

It was my first Banana Yoshimoto book and while I didn't dislike it, I didn't necesarily find anything in particular to like about it. It was weird in that way that Japanese literature is usually weird, and usually I'm okay with that. Asleep consists of three short stories or maybe novellas? Normally, I'm okay with the ambiguous ending that Japanese authors like so much, but having three stories back-to-back i I don't really know what to say about Asleep.

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