Goodbye Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto

goobye tsugumiEveryone is insane in their own way, at least, that’s my opinion. It could be physically insane, like all those in the loony bin, a.k.a insane alyssum, or they could be mentally insane, stressed out after an entire days of long work and just want to throw it out on someone. Tsugumi had been sickly from the day she was born and was told by the doctors again and again that she would never survive. But she pulled through, after long periods of fighting through lots of fevers. You would expect a sickly kid like that to be overly submissive, weak, and just plain timid. But that’s the exact opposite of Tsugumi. She’s spoiled rotten, and was prone to love saying things at the wrong time.

To her cousin, Maria, who narrated the whole story, Tsugumi was two faced in many ways. In front of her school friends and guys, she’s shy and graceful. But in front of her family and cousins, she’s the devil. A pure living Satan. Her tantrums were something almost always common making her always got what she wanted. To worsen things, Tsugumi’s parents and sister were amazingly patient people. They didn’t retaliate to Tsugumi’s attitude and personality. They pampered her even more.

However much Maria got driven almost crazy by Tsugumi, both of them were really close. By close, I mean that’s in their own way. Tsugumi often still yelled around at Maria and made rude, sarcastic comments, but the two never had a serious brawl. Maria mentioned herself that when she moved over to Tokyo, she was labeled as ‘generous’ and ‘level-headed.’ That was when Maria realizes that it was because of years keeping up with Tsugumi. I guess that’s considered part of the ‘habit’s circle. Maria’s habit was that of that she never could get pissed at anyone. It’s driven into her personality and into her daily actions. Habits could often be unbreakable, like when a person was taking drugs or when smoking was involved.

A bit intermezzo: My daily habit is to read books. It’s not exactly a habit though, it might actually get closer around ‘hobby’. Research says that habits are principles that one sticks to. My habits would involve caring for a book and not allowing it to get dirty. Stepping, throwing, and tearing books goes against my principle. It had been dug into me by my mom, and it had stayed ever since.

Back to Tsugumi. This story is how Maria spent her last summer. She had been living with Tsugumi for a while, (Tsugumi’s family owned a inn by the beach) but her mother was now officially remarried and they would be moving to Tokyo. Tsugumi would be moving to towards the mountains for her Father’s pension. So this was Maria’s last summer with Tsugumi in their faithful inn. It was a really special summer too, because it was the summer Tsugumi found her soul mate.

Talking about books, here’s a small quirk I realized between the difference of Japanese and American stories. The way their culture were developed differently affected the novels they write. So far, I’ve read only some really good Japanese novels, and plenty of American books–but the difference are almost obvious. A Japanese story would be really quiet, calm, and really descriptive. The plot moves really slowly.The setting is drawn to calm and quiet, almost like a scenery.

“On nights like this when the air is so clear, you end up saying things you ordinarily wouldn’t. Without even noticing what you’re doing, you open up your heart and just start talking to the person next to you—you talk as if you have no audience but the glittering stars, far overhead.” -Maria, Goodbye Tsugumi

American novels would be more into action and dialogues. It’s more into the character’s thoughts and actions. It’s also really faster paced, with many people everywhere, which I understand why American stories are really popular in the young adults section. I love reading these kind of stories other than narrative writing–but… it’s fun reading them once in a while, especially when they are really good.

 ““Keep climbing,’ he told himself.
‘Cheeseburgers,’ his stomach replied.
‘Shut up,’ he thought.
‘With fries,’ his stomach complained.” – House of Hades, by Rick Riordan.

Goodbye Tsugumi is almost like a little master piece. I really like the way how the author fluently describes the way the characters thought and the actions they did. Tsugumi is a really well-written character. She’s funny to read, witty, and really complicated. She’s basically has a real personality that could exist in real life. Technically, every character is supposedly to be like a living person.

Here’s one thing I realize about Banana Yoshimoto, the writer. The name is actually a pen name of Mahoko Yoshimoto. Our birthdays are on the same date: 24th of July. Which is amazing! I feel really happy to share birthday dates with an amazing author like her. She is a novelist currently living in Tokyo, Japan.


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