I read chapter 10 a little ahead of time. I’m starting to form a general opinion of the book.
My opinion with plot points blurred!
I’m starting to wonder what we are working towards in the book. Usually stories have a character arc, right? But we know, because the author has told us already from the very beginning, how this whole experience has changed him later in life.
Sooo… without some kind of unresolved issue the book (which is still pleasant and lightly entertaining by the way) is losing tension for me.
The only question we are left with is will he be properly reunited with his Mom again? And if so, what will come of our がばいばあちゃん?
There’s still time for some drama to pop up. Maybe I’ll eat these words in just a while?
Now that we’re a little over halfway, I wonder what do you guys think?
Oh, fun question. I haven’t read this week’s stuff yet, though.
Guess I'll collapse it too
I totally get what you’re saying, though while I’ve been critical of parts of the book, this hasn’t really been something that’s bothered me. I think this just isn’t a book I’m reading looking for tension so I’m ok with it being a series of anecdotes. It feels pretty fitting to me, in a way, for what’s a story about everyday people to not try too hard to push anything into a grand arc. Whether people are gonna love to read something without those juicy unresolved issues is a different story, but it might feel a little more artificial? A big mess of things that happened to me or that I tried to do meshes pretty well with how I think about my earlier life haha.
Just finished this week’s reading. It was very nice to once again see the kindness of everyone towards him and their consideration for his circumstances. Really sweet. ばあちゃん’s reaction to his complaints about lessons and to his grades were hilarious, but I find it strange that she wouldn’t care at all about his academic progress, and even discouraged his studying into the night. I’d expect that she would see doing well at school as an opportunity for him to escape poverty? I suppose she’s just being discreetly supportive and letting him find his own way.
I believe it’s だから。
My thoughts on the book so far
As a non-fiction book that is basically a series of anecdotes from the (famous) author’s childhood, there is no tension, no worrying about the outcome. We know he had a successful career, that he regards his childhood as a particularly happy one despite the hardships, and I think he may have already mentioned details about how long he stayed with his grandmother in the prologue (and about her passing?), but I don’t remember the details.
The nature of the book is such, that while I’m enjoying it while I read, when I put it down I find I’m in no hurry to resume reading. At first I thought it was because I didn’t like it as much as other books I’m reading at the same time, but I now realize it’s only because there’s no compulsion to keep reading to see what happens next. I know what happens, so each chapter can be enjoyed as a short story, loosely connected to the rest.
Interestingly, this is the only Japanese book so far that I’ve discussed in detail with family and friends. It’s because I think that they’d find the different perspective from another era and country interesting (and amusing), and it indeed has led to many interesting discussions about other people’s experiences. It’s also easier to talk about since there’s no worrying about possible spoilers if they ever chose to read it - it’s really not the kind of book that would be affected by spoilers.
I think that she doesn’t really care because she doesn’t care about prosperity or reputation. She lives her simple life and is happy with it. She wouldn’t need the knowledge taught at school (except perhaps for better distinguishing the 千円 and 万円 bills?).
My thoughts are mostly that, it’s a leap to assume anything when given such small glimpses, but considering her stories about how their family has been poor for generations, my guess would be she doesn’t really think about an escape from poverty as a realistic thing to worry themselves with. Of course, I suppose that’s exactly what he did do, heh.
Overall, really, I’m finding I like it more over time. With each week we get further from what I sorta took issue with in the opening and I’ve found it a little more lighthearted and fun. Not that I’d at all be opposed to a story about how terrible poverty is, it’s just that when the content was kinda bumming me out, I felt it clashed a little with the tone of how it was written. Recent chapters are just nice relaxed reads though.
But that isn’t true after all, is it? Wasn’t it explained in an earlier chapter that the family worked for the local lord, and that she married a bicycle merchant, a wedding that was considered elite at the time? These circumstances must be very recent. I tend to think she just makes the best of every situation and tries not to worry about it, be it poverty or school. Or, as you say, these are just the glimpses we get of her.
On getting good grades: Previously, she said something to the effect of “more money, more problems,” and seemed view getting out of poverty as something negative (though I agree @omk3 that maybe she’s just saying that to make the best of her situation).
On the story: Yeah, seems to be more like memoirs, which is fine by me. It sort of reminds me of some of Richard Feynman’s writings, which I enjoyed (sort of ironic since he helped develop the bomb that was used in Hiroshima). I was hoping this book would be a little more insightful to life in and around Hiroshima after the bombing, but maybe that’s just it: life just sort of goes on, and one way or another we make do.