I requested a copy of Kikuko Tsumura’s There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job because several people likened it to Convenience Store Woman. But there aren’t many similarities beyond the narrators being single, thirty-something women with “easy” jobs in Japan. While Keiko’s convenience store job gives her a feeling of satisfaction and normalcy, the unnamed narrator in There’s No Such Thing seeks out jobs that won’t stir any feelings. She wants a job without stress or emotional investment, and she jumps from one to the next by way of a recruitment agency. read more
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata is the story of Keiko Furukura, a 36-year-old woman who works in a convenience store. After 18 years, she views herself as an extension of the store and works there happily, but her family and society demand that she want more for herself. read more
The Savage Instinct by M.M. DeLuca follows Clara Blackstone after her release from a mental institution. She was forcibly committed after a stillbirth and received no actual care. Instead, she suffered a variety of traumatic and dehumanizing “treatments.” At home, Clara struggles to be calm and “normal” enough to avoid her husband Henry’s wrath, but he finds fault everywhere. He never says anything kindly, or even neutrally—every line drips with condescension and loathing. His behavior is so extreme that “caricature” is the only word that comes to mind. It also means that for the first half of the novel, he and Clara repeatedly have the same interaction: She offends him by existing, and he responds with cruelty. read more
I didn’t include The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells on my Classics Club list because it didn’t appeal to me at the time. It’s one of those books that, while influential, is too well known to offer any surprises. Plus, while I knew Spielberg’s movie took liberties since it’s set in modern times, I thought it was a fairly faithful adaptation since it opens and closes with quotes from the book (as read by Morgan Freeman). While some story beats are adapted faithfully, the book is very different. For starters, Tom Cruise flees aliens alongside his children, but the book’s unnamed narrator spends much of the book alone. Many disaster books/movies show people banding together to survive, but the narrator’s isolation adds to his vulnerability and the book’s overall tension.
I bought and read Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal expressly for my Reading World Tour. It was an absorbing read, but very different from my expectations. According to Goodreads, it’s “tender” and “funny” and many reviews describe the narrator, Haňťa, as a relatable booklover, but some of these descriptions strike me as odd. Despite his love of literature and tragic occupation, Haňťa is a mouse-infested drunk, and each poetic description is balanced by something ugly. read more