By Banana Yoshimoto
Classic Flashback #3
This review was originally written in January of 2012. I dedicate this repost to my wife Jeanne, who passed on in 2013, as a testament to her sense of humor and her long-lasting tolerance of mine.
You can tell my wife. I'm sure she understands. As a former instructor of world literature, she can understand how a reader can become totally infatuated by a writer's virtuosity and their ability to transcend culture when they poke at the universal longings and fears in all of us. She will know that readers can immerse themselves in language and equate that wonderful turn of a phrase with the qualities of the author. She will definitely understand this having had a long-time infatuation with Tom Wolfe.
Of course, maybe I should be a little jealous since she once had a cup of coffee with Wolfe. I would be lucky to get even a peek at Banana Yoshimoto in a noodle shop.
Kitchen is exhibit A in how Ms. Yoshimoto can weave an enchanting spell over her reader. They don't call it "Banana-mania" for nothing. The book is actually two novellas; the title story and Moonlight Shadow. Both hinge on heavy subjects, death, mourning, and the transitory nature of relationships. Yet the author is no pessimist. There is a brilliancy in her characters, a strength that conquers any existential dread. Plus, the author is marvelous at giving us beautiful word images that haunt us long after reading her tale. Her stories are often called minimalist and even simplistic. Yet there is no denying that they are beautiful and easy to relate to. I highly recommend this book to anyone who breathes.
Did I mention the cute photo of Banana on the book's cover?