The Ilonka Reader

Notes on the Books I Have Read

Category: short stories

Kitchen and Moonlight Shadow

By Banana Yoshimoto.

Kitchen is the novel and Moonlight Shadow is the novella companion, hardly more than a short story. They are the debut stories of a Japanese author. She picked the name Banana for herself as her pen name. Kitchen is quirky and strange, the voice just a little off somehow, perhaps it’s the translation. The main character had a personality that took me a while to find, but the story was great, the twists and turns not the focus but the background for the main character’s development.

I enjoyed Moonlight Shadow much more, though perhaps Kitchen prepared me for the style and I was more receptive to it. It was incredibly sad with a touch of magic realism that was almost… not beside the point or unnecessary but not the key to the story’s success. I cried for a long time afterward, the sadness of the story bringing out other sadnesses in myself.

Nine Stories

By J. D. Salinger.

I enjoyed these stories a lot. I would like to re-read them, along with Franny and Zooey. I love Salinger’s straight-forward descriptions and way of setting a scene. The writing still feels modern, despite the dialogue clearly being dated.

I did feel that sometimes Salinger was going over my head when he didn’t need to, which I didn’t appreciate.¬†For instance, in Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes, there is a twist to the story which was great but I didn’t glean from the text — I had to read about it online. I don’t see the point in being so obtuse. The story was an amazing character study and being clearer with the twist at the end would not have disrupted that. I wonder if more of the nine¬†stories had some extra layer that I didn’t catch.

Many of these stories are occupied with children, particularly precocious children. This seems to be common in Salinger’s writing.