This was my first time reading a (not-aimed-at-children) novel in japanese. It was definitely above my level and I struggled a lot with all the vocab and grammar I had to look up; however, the satisfaction of having finished it was well worth it.
I’d like to thank everyone who participated in this book club, and specially to all those that patiently answered all questions, whether they were asked by me or by someone else. I’d have probably given up long ago without your help.
Random thoughts on this book
I mentioned this in a post before, and I knew from the start that the intermediate book club was above my abilities, but the premise of this book seemed really interesting, so I decided to take the plunge.
The book didn’t quite go in the direction I expected, but overall I feel quite satisfied with it. I kind of expected a more introspective book - an inner look at how 恵子 perceived the world considering her condition; her overall lack of empathy and her shallow feelings; more like a description of the inner workings of her mind rather than a series of events of her life.
While the book did deliver quite well in that front, I felt it didn’t go to the depths I wished. At first it seemed to me that 恵子 was a very rational person; she built a “normal” persona for herself by observation and imitation. In this regard, she seemed quite sophisticated in some aspects (like how she’d take note of what brands of clothes other people her age wore, then lookup in internet blogs about people recommending those brands and then buying other brands they recommended, so that she didn’t seem like a straight copy cat )
Other times, however, it baffled me how little thought she seemed to have put into other matters, mostly in her plan to marry 白羽. Given that many of her “friends” were married, and that she probably had plenty of time to observe her sister’s (and even her parents’) married life, it seemed very naive of her to think that was going to work (I mean, that “marriage” wasn’t going to fool anyone and make her seem normal, and it didn’t).
There are several possible explanations for this, I believe (like how she felt very pressured by her friends and family, so she might have taken a rushed decision), but I’d have really like to read what exactly she was thinking when she came up with that idea, or why exactly she thought it was going to work. Then again, it is not like I achieved 100% comprehension with my meager japanese skills, so there are probably many things I missed that might explain many of the contradictions I sensed in the book.
Probably because of my expectations towards this books, the parts I enjoyed the most were this moments of introspection and observation; stuff like how she was more worried about 白羽’s snot making bubbles in his nose rather than his ramblings on the 縄文 era, or how she noticed the saliva from one her “friend”'s husband flying over the meat in the barbecue while she was being criticized and ostracized.
I think the saddest moments in the book were those where 恵子, out a sense of helplessness at being unable to understand, simply asks “why”. Why did she have to search for a husband? Why did she have to look for stable employment? I feel many humans simply come to accept those things, never finding an answer to why society works the way it does either.
I think the most brutal moment for me, where I finally realized the depth of 恵子’s condition, was in this week’s reading; when the 義妹 from Hell, tells her quite frankly that the best thing she can do for humanity is to never pass on her rotten genes. 恵子 just nods, and think that’s very logical. She doesn’t feel sad, or attacked, or hurt. The heck, she’s even relieved she doesn’t has to force herself to have children with 白羽. After I read that part yesterday I just shook my head, closed the book, and went to sleep, because it was just too hard to digest.
I am quite satisfied with the ending. I am really glad that the author didn’t go for a fabricated happy ending that would have probably been either hard to believe or extremely rushed. Her moment of epiphany feels in many ways magical as well as logical, and it was a lot fun to read her exploits as a コンビニ女神, short as they were.
In the end, we know things won’t get fixed for 恵子, but at least we know there’s hope she’ll find some sort of closure and satisfaction in her life. And I am happy to take that little light of hope with me so that I can go sleep feeling way better than how I felt when I went to sleep yesterday >.<
Sorry for the long rambling