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Hardboiled and Hard Luck Hardcover – Bargain Price, June 9, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Like twins whose paths diverge dramatically, these two gentle stories share little beyond the mesmerizing voice of their creator. The surreal subject matter and dreamy narration of "Hardboiled" make it read rather like a bedtime story gone awry. When the young female narrator realizes that it's the anniversary of her lover's death, several curious events suddenly make sense: a stone from a creepy shrine that finds its way into her pocket; a fire at an udon shop where she'd just been eating; and a nighttime visitation by the ghost of a woman who committed suicide. "Harboiled" drags a bit, but "Hard Luck" is a pleasure, even if it's almost as downbeat as its predecessor. This time, a young female narrator is standing watch over her older sister, Kuni, whose brain is slowly dying after a cerebral hemorrhage. As their parents gradually lose hope for Kuni's recovery, the narrator makes her own peace by forging a bond with her sister's fiancé's brother. In this gemlike story, Yoshimoto (Goodbye Tsugumi) takes a subtle, graceful look at the relationship between the sisters and the fault lines in this grieving family, elevating her little book from fine to downright moving.
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From Booklist

In her seventh book of spare, piercing fiction, Japanese writer Yoshimoto once again portrays strong-minded young women coping with heartbreak, traumatic family fissures, drastic illness, and fatalities. This sounds grim, but Yoshimoto is tenderly ironic and keenly attuned to nature's beauty and the mystic dimension of life, and her characters' ability to tough their way through painful predicaments infuses her elegantly insightful stories with hope. Here two novellas portray two self-possessed yet besieged young women. In "Hardboiled," the narrator is on a solo journey that begins as a simple mountain trek and turns into an intense confrontation with otherworldly forces, including a ghost in a hotel and overwhelming memories of a lost lover and her terrible demise. In "Hard Luck," a tale all the more poignant in the wake of Terry Shiavo, the narrator's sister lies in a coma as her family struggles to find a way to say good-bye. Yoshimoto writes of profoundly complex matters of love, life, decorum, guilt, and death with the precision and grace of a traditional calligrapher. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Tra edition (June 9, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802117996
  • ASIN: B005ZODGKW
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,518,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Najla Alowais on November 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
My first book by this author was 'Goodbye Tsugumi' and since then, I have always been on the look out for books by yoshomoto.

Both Hardboiled and Hard Luck explore themes that have been prevalent in yoshomoto's previous works. Themes like friendship, death, grief, memories and love wove their way through these two short stories.

Hardboiled, the first of the stories, is about a young woman visiting a town on her lover's anniversary. A series of strange things happen to her on the way, and she flits into dreamworld and memories. The story takes us along as she comes to terms with her friend's death.

The second part of the book, hard luck, is the story of a young woman dealing with her brain damaged sister. As a result of an ebolism in the sister's brain, she goes into a coma, and then begins the progress of her death infront of her loved ones. The narrator, the younger sister, visits her sister in the beginning of the novel and reflects on her state and is plagued with memories of the past. There she also meets her sister's fiance's brother for the first time and her reaction towards him makes her realize that altho grieving, she is also getting back to her normal life.

Both stories, although written simply as the norm with yoshomoto's novels, are filled with a myriad of strong emotions. Goodbye Tsugumi still remains my personal favorite of her novels.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of Yoshimoto's most underrated works. Hard Boiled deals with a young woman who witnesses some strange events while staying in an inn in a small town. The story revolves around her encounter with a spirit and her struggles with her own past. The second story is Hard Luck which centers around a young woman whose sister is on the verge of death while in a coma.

Both stories are amazing and thought provoking. Profound is a word I would use to describe them. The second story is so touching when the protagonist starts to fall for the brother of her sister's fiance, but is unable to act on her feelings due to circumstance. We do see that there is hope for each of the characters on their own, but we the readers are really rooting for them. It is sad, touching, and very enjoyable.

The first story is mysterious and is a little more thought provoking. Who are we and what are we here for? Is there such a thing as destiny? Yoshimoto seems to transcend modern literature with these two stories and enter a realm that is reserved for only the very best writers.

I do sense that she and Haruki Murakami have a somewhat kindred spirit when reading these two stories. I read these two stories in a single sitting, they were so magical. This is not the obvious, spoon fed style of literature many Westerners are exposed to, but an elegant, light touch of prose that enters the mind and travels to the spirit. Not everyone will enjoy it, not everyone will agree with me... but please at least read these tales once and embrace the subtlety.
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Format: Paperback
Two stories or short novella about coping with personal loss, bereavement told by 2 young women in the I-form. Both narrators are very sensitive and good at remembering their dreams, one even realizing she must be dreaming, while doing so. Finally, both narrators have occasional bouts of a strong cosmic and natural awareness symbolizing a brightened mood by e.g. bright stars in a pitch dark sky, swirling multicolored autumn leaves, the beauty of fruits and vegetables. Periods of gloom take the form of sounds muffled by prolonged periods of fog, sleeplessness, crying.
"Hardboiled" is the more straightforward of the two, albeit full of omens, dreams and ghosts from the past, sketching a woman's hike in the mountains and her eventful overnight stay in a small town hotel. Late in the tale she realizes she has forgotten the anniversary of the death of her friend/lover Shizuru. Full of cross references and symbolism and an example of how much closer Japanese feel to living in a fleeting world with multiple gods and ancestral spirits, where time can slow down, stop or surge ahead. Like Murakami's "After Midnight", this story covers less than 24 hours.
Whilst Shizuru's death came suddenly and its long-term impact on her friend is hard to grasp for readers, "Hard Luck" is a study of the predicted and real death and bereavement of female narrator's sister Kuni, for months on life support after a brain hemorrhage. The reader is taken on an emotional tour of the narrator's memories of her sister, the response from Kuni's fiancé and his older brother Sakai, her former work colleagues, her parents... It ends on a slightly higher note than "Hardboiled". Needs to be read more than once to fully appreciate it.
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Format: Paperback
Banana Yashimoto has a voice that is honest, tough, tender and more than a little quirky. Her character lives through everyday annoyance and tragedy in a seamless, and reflective style--just as we all do, when life throws the mundane and major events at you without pause, and in the same aggravatng breath. Somehow, the character makes her way through it all without evoking pity or demanding admiration. I felt like I had been invited into a real life. Read it and enjoy.
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