Friday, December 7, 2012

Reviewed! Hardboiled and Hard Luck by Banana Yoshimoto

I'm sure the title of the book and the author's name both caught your attention. What seems to be hard to boil and why someone was named after a fruit? :-) The answer to the first question, I'll leave it for you to find out, in case you will be interested to read. For the second question, Banana is simply the pen name chosen by the author, Mahoko Yoshimoto.

Despite having catchy names, the book never went to the local bookstore's best selling lists. I often see this book hidden and unnoticed among the ranks of John Green, Nicholas Sparks and all those best selling fictions. In addition to this, the nice cover seemed to never contribute to its sales. So how and why did I land on this book? While I always consider myself following the recommendations of my friends and best sellers, I have this habit of buying unusual books once in a while. Unusual meant those that are often least discussed and purchased from the racks of the bookstores. This landed as one of those books I purchased out of curiosity and perhaps, to give me a break from my addiction to Jane Green.

Authored by a fellow Asian, the book related two different stories that can be both read in one sitting. The book has more than a hundred pages, but captured a couple of intense stories. 

The first story evolved on the journey of an unnamed author visiting the grave of a partner and friend. For those who haven't been exposed to horror stories and same sex relationships, you might feel a bit rattled with the first installment.

The second story was totally different. It related the pain the sacrifices that Kuni's family has to endure, as she was counting her days with a life sustaining device. The story was narrated by her sister, who later found love while waiting for Kuni's departure

What I love and appreciate about the novel are the following

1.It was too short - Haha! You can read the entire book in one sitting. The short read however never lacked the substance and deep reflections to ponder.

2. The two stories emphasized the idea that while people eventually leave, memories don't  and will never. - Death was both personified in the two stories. While death provides the most painful form of departure, the memories of the person who left will forever remain to those who were left behind. And I believe this is what makes death the most painful. 

3. Grieving is a lifelong process - As they say, the pain of death are like wounds that will eventually heal over time. The story highlighted the fact that grieving never stops. What happens in reality is that people simply become used to the grieving.

4. Expected death is the most painful - Saying that it is painful is even an understatement. After reading the two stories, I learned another lesson about death. When a loved one was sentenced to live in two to three years, that span of time also represents the shortest yet most painful phase to the loved ones of the person about to leave.  

5. Life demands perfect timing. What seems to be right may not always be right, when the element of time is considered.

Would I recommend purchasing and reading the book? I would recommend to purchase the cheaper e-book version, than the little more expensive paperback. Why? As I have mentioned, you can finish the book in one sitting. You can finish the book while riding the train or bus for an out-of-town trip. The book contains sad stories and if you don't want your merry season to be bothered by a sad story, as I have said, perfect timing :-) Brace yourself for the haunting and melancholic theme. If you appreciate literature and reads with symbolic representations, then this book is perfect for you.

Overall, I would give the book 3.5 out of 5 stars. Hardboiled and Hard Luck is a short but a sad moving story about love, friends and family.


  1. "Banana" really is a catchy name! About the book...sounds pretty intense! And I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of short stories. For me books can't have enough pages ;-)
    have a wonderful 2. Advent!

  2. What a wonderful book review. You are right that this season may not be the time to dwell on the sadness of death but it sounds like you gained a lot of insight. I like your book reviews very much. Hope you continue with them.

  3. What a fantastic review, Diane. This sounds like a very well-written collection of short stories, but I don't think I can read it right now because I'm still so hurt about my mother-in-law's passing.

    Thank-you so much for linking-up to Literary Friday. I hope you are enjoying your weekend!!!



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