Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: Love Songs by Banana Yoshimoto


Banana Yoshimoto has a nuanced and magical ability to animate the lives of her young characters, and here she spins the stories of three women, all bewitched into a spiritual sleep. One, mourning for a lost lover, finds herself sleepwalking at night. Another, who has embarked on a relationship with a man whose wife is in a coma, finds herself suddenly unable to stay awake. A third finds her sleep haunted by another woman whom she was once pitted against in a love triangle. Sly and mystical as a ghost story, with a touch of Kafkaesque surrealism, Asleep is an enchanting new book from one of the best writers of contemporary international fiction.

Love Songs
Pages: 36 of 177 pages (Hardcover)
Publisher: Grove Press
Released: July 26, 2000

The second story in Asleep is Love Songs. Just like Night and Night Traveler, Love Songs deals with death and the aftermath of it. Fumi and Haru were sworn rivals. They both loved the same man and instead of making him choose, they both stayed with him knowing that the other would be there. The rivalry started off small, but grew to vicious insults and even fights. In the end, their lover disappeared and Fumi and Haru went their separate ways.

Fumi moved on, but lately, she’s been drinking more and more and hearing a sweet song as she sleeps. She doesn’t know why this is happening, so she asks her current boyfriend Mizuo for help. He tells her that it’s probably someone who died and wants to talk to Fumi. The only person they can think of is Haru and once they find out that she’s passed on, Mizuo takes Fumi to a midget medium who can help.

Love Songs is ultimately a story about finding peace and how people affect us. Even though Fumi and Haru hated each other, they did find solace in the other’s company. When their lover disappeared, they knew that they would never see each other again. Not only did they like each other, but they felt just as lonely knowing that they wouldn’t see each other again.



Love Songs takes an interesting look at regret and sadness. I still found it hard to believe that two girls would stay with a guy like that, especially, when the girls continue to fight one another. But the relationship, despite their sticky situation, was fun to read. It did make me wonder, “If Fumi and Haru met under different circumstances, what would have happened?”

4 stars

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