Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Release Date: First pub. 1993
Synopsis: I shall refer to her as Lizard here, but not because of the small lizard tattoo that I discovered on her inner thigh.
The woman has round, black eyes that gaze at you with utter detachment, like the eyes of a reptile. Every bend and curve of her small body is cool to the touch, so cool that I want to scoop her up in my two hands.
This may bring to mind the image of a man holding a bunny or a chick, but that’s not what I mean. What I imagine is the strange, tickling sensation of sharp claws scampering around in my palms. And then, when I open up my hands to take a peek, a thin, red tongue lashes out. Reflected in those glassy eyes, I see my own lonely face, peering down, looking for something to love and cherish. That’s what Lizard feels like to me….
I decided to read Lizard as my introduction to Banana Yoshimoto’s work because of the Japanese Literature Challenge’s Short Stories theme for July. And I have to say, reading Lizard was quite the experience. This anthology had a very dreamy, peaceful feel to it that also came with an air of melancholy. The stories in this book are not exactly happy and they are not exactly sad either. It was strange, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
In Lizard, there are six stories. A story about a man on a train meeting an incredible person, a story about a couple with dark childhood secrets, a story about a man and woman talking about memories and how to know which ones are necessary, a story about a woman who is in a relationship with a married man, a story about a lady who runs away from the village her parents spent ten years of their life in, and a story about a woman who escapes from a life filled with parties and sex.
These short stories that are compiled in Lizard were written to be literary. The conflicts can be vague at times and sometimes not even faced. The short stories just tell what happened in the days the reader gets to see of a certain character, though there is always something to be taken and put into the heart from them. I liked that about Lizard. How it’s only goal was to depict only a number of days of a character’s life, and after it succeeded in that, it was the reader’s turn to reflect on them.
From what I got see from Yoshimoto’s writing from the translation, I feel that her writing is the kind of writing that makes a person feel very light inside. I find it hard to explain, but for some reason I feel very light whenever I read a passage from Lizard. It was like being taken by the hand and guided. And some passages are just simply beautiful. And yes, I am still quite taken by her name.
“At that moment, I was truly without words. I realized that the world didn’t exist by virtue of my mind. On the contrary, he and I and everyone were swept up in a great whirlpool, swirling around constantly and not knowing where we’re bound.” -Pg. 172
Short review is short, but I just wanted to share my experience with Lizard in a few short paragraphs. It was a beautiful anthology and I do not regret reading it. In fact, I am eagerly awaiting the next change to read a full-length story by Banana Yoshimoto.