Book Review: Slow Boat, by Hideo Furukawa




Our dreams go everywhere we go. We have access to twenty or thirty different worlds (how many are there really?), far beyond the reach of - and of no interest to - the others. But we never badmouth them. We never look down on them. All that matters to me is that she's happy with how we are. We. Me and my sixth-grade girlfriend. My first girlfriend.


Sometimes I find a book in my travels and it really makes me realise, I completely judge books by their covers. But who can say that's a bad thing when they're this bright, beautiful and colourfully pleasing!


Slow Boat follows the love trials of the narrator, who seems to have no problem reaping love into his life, but struggles intensely to keep it - or rather to keep it in Tokyo. One by one his girlfriends leave him behind as they follow paths out into the world, and desperately though he may try on occasions, he just can't seem to follow them.


I loved the pace of this book. It's been translated (pretty well, all things considered) from the original Japanese and there's a wonderful, colloquial feeling to the dialogue and experiences of the narrator. Furukawa makes no secret of his favouritism for Haruki Murakami, indeed this book itself has been 'sampled' as he puts it from Murakami's unforgettable short story 'A Slow Boat to China'. A short but sweet explanation at the end of the book acknowledges the connection and influence Murakami has had on the author.


Slow Boat offers just the right mix of humour, longing, and love. It captures in a very realist way that deep longing many of us experience at points in our life to get away, to escape from where we are, and find ourselves. And the competing struggles this has with the reality of actually living our life.


The reference to dreams, and escaping through dreaming resonated well with me. Haven't we all woken from a dream only to want to rush back into it, rather than face the day?


A genuinely lovely read, that won't take up too much of your time.


...


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Copyright © 2020 Elaine Mead | Coffee&Books

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