The Cake Tree in the Ruins is an incredible collection of short stories all set on August 15,1945, the day Japan surrendered to the Allies in World War II.
Some of the themes tackled are war and its effects, survival, loss, love and kindness in the most difficult situations. Several of the stories highlight on how useless wars are and its effects on common/ordinary people who are the actual victims.
Most of the stories are extremely sad and heartbreaking and The Whale Who Fell In Love With the Submarine is my favorite, a beautifully tragic story.
This is my first venture on Akiyuki Nosaka’s works and he definitely has my heart. This collection is haunting and superb and one that will stay with me for a very long time.
“He was waiting for his mother who was sure to come back from the sky — the mother who had soared up into the sky like a kite blown by the wind.”
“Too many undernourished people and animals appear in these stories, I know, but it was wartime, after all.”
“On 15th August in the cloudless blue sky evening sky a single giant balloon left Japan and rode the jet stream headed for America. It carried no bomb… and unable to land is probably still floating around somewhere filled with the breath of school children.”
These three short stories were recommendations from my new boss during a car ride for lunch. We’ve been working together for only two months and it didn’t occur to me even once that he likes reading. He also recommended Demian but that’s for another post.
The Last Leaf by O. Henry is an absolutely beautiful story. There’s love, friendship, death, sacrifice and the significance of hope. Sue and Johnsy are young aspiring artists but Johnsy fell prey to pneumonia. Johnsy already lost hope to live while Sue was desperate in finding ways to keep her hopes up and survive. Mr. Behrman is an old painter but pretty much failed all his life. But he never lost hope. And then one day, he was able to paint his masterpiece.
The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant is a story that teaches a lesson about greed, contentment and being grateful for what is given to us. It’s about an ungrateful lady, Mathilde, who desired wealth, fame and to be envied by people. Her mindset never changed until the end of the story, still chasing the same things when she was younger and even after the incident that happened so I think the ending serves her right.
The Gift of the Magi, again by O. Henry, is another well-written story about true love and gift giving. Della wanted to buy a wonderful gift for her husband but she didn’t have enough money to do so. She decided to do the unthinkable. It was adorable and sad but all in all lovely. The wonderful message is worth some reflection.
Have you read these short stories? Which one is your favorite? Or any recommendations for another short story? Feel free to share on the comments section.
This is the first short story I’ve read from Ken Liu and I loved it.
It’s a story about Jack, born to an American father and a Chinese mother. His mom made lots of origami animals for him when he was a kid. However, as he grows up, he found it hard to fit in where they live. An incident with a friend later caused him to distance himself from his mother until it became uncomfortable and they eventually stopped talking to each other. Soon his mom died but there was one surprise left for Jack…
In just a few pages, this story will really touch your heart. The ending was so sad and you will feel the regret the child must have felt. It kind of left my heart heavy but lots of things to reflect on.
An annual lottery takes place in a town of 300 people. They initially gather cheerfully though hesitant excitement and nervousness is apparent as the event progresses more notably on parents strangely fearing for their children. The locals believe that to ensure healthy crops for the good of everyone, the lottery must be held though rumor has it that the other towns had ceased doing it.
This is a work wonderfully crafted by Shirley Jackson. The ending was foreshadowed very early but that didn’t spoil the story until the truth was totally revealed.
Readers has a lot to take from this short story and the atrocity of blind conformity is undeniable. It’s one example of a story that we can consider timeless in that it can be re-invented time and time again, from one generation to another.
Truly a captivating and thought-provoking read.
“There’s always been a lottery.”
“It’s not the way it used to be… people ain’t the way they used to be.”
Book #45 for my 2015 Reading Challenge is a collection of short stories from my favorite author, Haruki Murakami…
This book is a collection of short stories set in different venues and features different themes/subjects like cats, monkeys, a firefly, jazz, friendship, chance, death, loss, etc. Out of these stories, some of my favorites or some that leave a deeper impression to me are The Mirror, The Year of Spaghetti, The Ice Man, Chance Traveller, Toni Takitani and Firefly.
Murakami’s short stories (and novels) make you dream differently. He’s able to bring out the magic of everyday life, he makes you see the extraordinary even in the most mundane situation. To cut the story short, there are no ordinary stories when told by Murakami.
Favorite quotes : “There are ways of dying that don’t end in funerals. Types of death you can’t smell.”
“Thinking about spaghetti that boils eternally but is never done is a sad, sad thing.”
“I sometimes think that people’s hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what’s at the bottom. All you can do is imagine by what comes floating to the surface every once in a while.”
“I may be the type who manages to grab all the pointless things in life but lets the really important things slip away.”
“What I saw wasn’t a ghost. It was simply — myself. I can never forget how terrified I was that night, and whenever I remember it, this thought always springs to mind: that the most frightening thing in the world is our own self.”