A nice little love story set in a remote town in an exotic Asian country whose culture the protagonist is completely disconnected from (she is a typical New Yorker), and learning about it equates to her learning about herself. Clicheish and trite, although if you're looking for a quick read, this would do well.
For someone who does not understand her own concept of home, this book greatly appealed to me. To be home in Manila and yet not, with its constant changes and surprises--both frustrating and endearing. It's a rollicking fun and bittersweet tour of Manila; one journey that will hopefully guide you in finding your own personal Manila, and self.
Anatomy, history, (dis)embodiment are some of the focus of this novel. Not quite sure whether it's interestingly nice or just strange: it's that kind of book. The visuals were beautiful; however, the text and story don't seem to deliver, despite its promising premise. Hodgson could have done so much with her researches on the history of anatomy, including the themes which she chose--disembodiment and disjointedness--but somehow they fail to capture one's emotions and attention. That said, the visual additions (pop-ups, pages from anatomy books) seem as if they were only included to spice up an otherwise plain story.
Imagine taking a walk with the protagonist of the story, and having her tell you a surreal story. You don't really get to know her as much as you get to know her haunting tale, but it's alright. You walk on and she takes you to the lake, where everything supposedly happens and where all the characters come together, and then she goes, and you are left with a haunting feeling. This is pretty much how the novel (novella) was for me. It's a quick read but, like other Yoshimoto books, will leave you with a haunting feeling long after you've finished the book. I agree with some that it's not at par with her other works, yet it still has that 'distinct' Yoshimoto voice I've come to enjoy.
Aptly titled, the book consists of words the narrator tries to understand. But the real words (those not mentioned) whose meanings the narrator tries to make sense of - are love, home, and solitude. It's a treatise on love and language, and the search for home through travel and understanding the meaning of solitude. As the narrator tries to learn the English language, she stumbles through her broken one; at the same time trying to capture the real essence of love.
I still prefer the Constance Garnett translation over this, but I can see how this translation brings the classic text closer to this generation. It's a whole lot easier to read, but so much grandeur is lost, I think. With its long descriptions of working in the fields, riding a horse (quite unforgettable), and food (these parts are just lovely and will make you starve), plus the rounds of vodka and scotch, the many characters' joys and tragedies are paralleled in the everyday
This one feels very much like a commissioned book. It isn't at par with the other de Botton books, but it still has some interesting thoughts, sandwiched between ramblings and images of the airport and the people in it. In a way, it feels like an essay that was stretched so it could be published into a book, and also satisfy the patron/sponsor. I'd still recommend the book, but potential readers may just want to borrow it, due to its steep price (there are many images inside which aren't particularly beautiful or striking).