Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Book Review: The Bear And The Paving Stone by Toshiyuki Horie

"It got to be just like she said.  Creating something that we knew would be destroyed was giving us an unexplainable sense of accomplishment that was the opposite of transience, and it was a spur for me as well as for her brother, who must already have been carrying the illness inside him."

Over the past couple of years, Pushkin Press has been putting out short works by contemporary Japanese writers such as Hideo Furukawa, Mieko Kawakami, and Hiromi Kawakami. The Bear and The Paving Stone is a mini-collection of three works by Toshiyuki Horie which have been translated to English by Geraint Howells.

This is definitely a pleasant, wonderful and relaxing short read. Each of the three stories is told from a first person perspective and each has a dinstinct setting. These three gorgeous pieces of writing seem to be disconnected but also closely connected at the same time and they are told in a very simple, calm and melancholic ways.

"Personal sadness.  Was there any other kind?  Wasn’t sadness something that everyone had to endure individually?  Just like anger. The idea that you can share anger or sadness with others is nothing more, really, than a compelling illusion.  We can only communicate the pain we feel on an individual level." 

"I wasn't sure, but I thought I understood when he said there was "something about me". That "something", whenever I met someone new, gave me a clue whether or not we'd be able to get to know each other. Usually, if don't  feel a connection with someone, I'll conclude that they're probably not someone in my life, and I'll stay away. But when I do connect with someone, the connection last, and it's a bit like the shell fire in that Kenji Miyazawa children's story."

In each tale, you get to go through the memories of the narrator, to visit and explore interesting places and to discover works of other authors. Through this book, I've also got a chance to read and know about a La Fontaine's fable!

Gorgeous cover, beautiful writing, interesting setting and amazing stories about longing, memory and friendship, this novella really deserves 4 stars from me. 

I cannot say much about this book since I don't want to spoil all the important details. If you are a fan of translated works then I highly recommend seeking out this series from Pushkin.