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The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto

The Lake (edition 2011)

by Banana Yoshimoto, Michael Emmerich (Translator)

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2731841,545 (3.49)17
Title:The Lake
Authors:Banana Yoshimoto
Other authors:Michael Emmerich (Translator)
Info:Melville House (2011), Hardcover, 192 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto

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Originally posted at my blog, a review blog of sorts..."


Before I start, I just want to say that if you see this book at amazon, goodreads, book depository, the library, the book...basically anywhere that you can find this book. Do not, under any circumstances, read the synopsis past the point that I've posted here. Why? Because the synopsis kind of spoils the book. So if you plan on reading this, don't read the synopsis.

I've only read one book by Banana Yoshimoto, Asleep, which I enjoyed. I love her writing style and how it gives off a very dreamy sort of style. I'm still not sure if it's correctly translated, but I think for the most part, Michael Emmerich did a great job.

The story is about Chihiro and Nakajima and their complicated relationship. Chihiro is still suffering from the death of her mother and it's clear that Nakajima has a painful past that no one could ever imagine. (unless you read the synopsis, so don't!) The more Nakajima learns to trust Chihiro, the more she wants to heal him. It's a complicated relationship, but one that both of them want and need.



The Lake is a relatively short book. It's only 192 pages. But after reading Asleep and now The Lake, I've noticed that even though her books are short they feel longer. I remember reading this and feeling like a long time has passed, but I was only on page 70. Now, whether this is a bad thing or a good one is entirely up to the reader.

As far as the story goes, it's okay. There is a sense of loneliness, grief, and pain throughout the pages. This is a pretty dark book, but one that I thought was quite good. Like I mentioned before, I became a fan of Yoshimoto's writing style after reading Asleep and I was glad that the same translator was used for both books. When I read her books I feel a sense of disconnect from her characters, but they still keep me engaged. It's weird, but it's one of the things that I like about her writing.

The Lake does start off slow and I did feel like it dragged on at some points, but I still enjoyed my time reading this.

ps. Did I mention that you shouldn't read the synopsis? ( )
  pdbkwm | Sep 8, 2014 |
This is the first book by Banana Yoshimoto that I've read. I didn't know what to expect, and I found it a little cold at the beginning, but as the characters developed I warmed to them. The book is a good character study of two people struggling with the extraordinary and the mundane, working out a way to fit together. It's moody but satisfying. There's a mystery to be unravelled and an air of uncertainty runs through the book. I found it very compelling. ( )
  missizicks | Feb 2, 2014 |
Life is merciless, it can bring random injustice upon us, sucking out our last breath of willpower, inflicting insurmountable damage. But sometimes it is also capricious and chooses to give hope to the hopeless, eyesight to the blind, atonement for the victims.
Chihiro and Nakajima cross paths on an unremarkable day when looking out of their respective windows they find their glances colliding with each other. They start engaging in silent, hesitant conversations, full of dubious smiles, nods and certain slants of heads, which shed a flimsy light on their darknesses; a smooth lake the only obstacle between their two wretched lives.
Haunted by a traumatic experience, Nakajima shies away from crowds and creates a safe haven buried in himself where no one can’t hurt him.
Chihiro, still grieving for the loss of her mother, opens her door to Nakajima and, without pressure, offers an unreserved hand, full of possibilities.
Odds stacked against them, Chihiro and Nakajima start dancing together not minding about the steps but following their instinctive rhythm, threading a new path without pretensions.

Reading The Lake produced waves of rippling sensations to me.
Like when you bury your feet in cool and silky sand.
Or when a fragile and timid sunbeam leaks through an overcasted sky, briefly warming your chilly face.
Or when you hear a flawless tuned up violin playing a soft melody.
But I expected this short tale to transport me to a place where time and space wouldn’t exist.
Like when you open your arms and feel eternal, surrounded by sky and see.
Or when you witness the magic moment of seeing a shooting star splashing out golden color in the night made of grey and dark blue.
Or when you are unwittingly swept away, out of your senses, by the sheer beauty of a heartfelt interpretation of some piece of music. (Like Chopin’s Nocturne Op.9 nº1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Llni1D... ).

Pleasant but not moving.
It’s not that I didn’t like the story, it is just that it failed to touch me. I had the impression that Yoshimoto tried very hard to create a mystical, otherworldy atmosphere with poetic, even beautiful and delicate imagery. And she did. Her descriptions are deceptively simple yet charged with spiritualism. But even if I was willing to be spellbound, the magic didn’t work out for the characters. My heart wasn’t with them, no spark of recognition, their crispy dialogues seemed trivial, lacking any emotional intensity. Their supposed unconventionality wasn’t convincing and remained merely on the surface, giving no wings to my imagination. Not like Mishima’s The Sound of Waves or Baricco’s Silk.

No footprint, not even a watermark left after I closed the last page of this tale.
Just a fleeting already fading remembrance of a butterfly kiss. ( )
  Luli81 | May 13, 2013 |
Strange and haunting. I didn't always love it while I was reading it, but I can't stop thinking about it now. Images from it just keep floating up.
Oh and apparently the jacket copy gives away a big plot point (really kind of the only plot point) so don t read it if you're going to read the book! ( )
  JenneB | Apr 2, 2013 |
Imagine taking a walk with the protagonist of the story, and having her tell you a surreal story. You don't really get to know her as much as you get to know her haunting tale, but it's alright. You walk on and she takes you to the lake, where everything supposedly happens and where all the characters come together, and then she goes, and you are left with a haunting feeling. This is pretty much how the novel (novella) was for me. It's a quick read but, like other Yoshimoto books, will leave you with a haunting feeling long after you've finished the book. I agree with some that it's not at par with her other works, yet it still has that 'distinct' Yoshimoto voice I've come to enjoy. ( )
  heterotopic | Apr 3, 2012 |
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The first time Nakajima stayed over, I dreamed of my dead mom.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Translated by Michael Emmerich.
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The tale of a young woman who moves to Tokyo after the death of her mother, hoping to get over her grief and start a career as a graphic artist.

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