What remains after a memory is lost? Is it better to live without memories, or exist alone with all the memories everyone around you has lost? How do you live when objects, once precious or necessary, no longer hold any meaning for you? Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police asks all these questions and more. Masterfully translated by Stephen Snyder, Ogawa’s novel was a finalist for the International Booker Prize and the National Book Award, and rightfully so. It’s a perfect blend of Orwellian subterfuge and fantastical, almost fairy-tale elegy.
I haven’t been writing much fiction or poetry lately (shocker). Pandemic life has further deepened my writing drought. I have been reading a lot, however, and was struck with the scathingly brilliant idea to start writing book reviews.
I’ll be mostly reviewing Japanese literature — I don’t have a B.A. in Japanese Studies just for shits and giggles — but I might move away from that niche if I find a particularly gush-worthy read.
Fair warning: I am absolutely shit at summarizing stories, so if you’re looking for a pitch-perfect synopsis, it’ll be a while before I develop that talent.
Anyways, these reviews/impressions/rambles probably won’t be too in-depth at first, but I’m hoping to develop a knack for dissecting the meat of a book objectively enough without spoiling it for everybody. (See how terrible that metaphor was? This is why I don’t share my writing anymore.)
For this first installment of Pearl Reviews, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Hiromi Kawakami‘s novel Strange Weather in Tokyo, translated by Allison Markin Powell and published by Counterpoint Press. This came out a few years ago, so I’m very much late to the party, but considering my TBR list is over 1000 books, I’m lucky I was able to get to it at all.
Surprisingly enough, it’s my mom who suggests we watch Amazon’s latest output Tales from the Loop. I never pegged her as the surreal science fiction show type, so I’ll admit to sitting down with some trepidation. (Then again, she’s a fan of Snowpiercer, so perhaps I should have given her some more credit). What I certainly didn’t expect was to go to bed that night a silent, sobbing mess, all because of one relatively minor scene.
Most shows featuring a mother-daughter dynamic, however briefly, are either hit or miss with me (looking at you, Gilmore Girls, the indulgence-turned-bane of my teenage years), but I could already tell I’m going to be emotionally compromised by Loretta. Her quiet, almost resigned demeanor in the face of Alma’s obvious reticence as a mother was hard to watch. I didn’t expect my childhood to rear its head and gut me during the first episode, but young Loretta got to me.