Title: The Lonesome Bodybuilder- Stories
Author: Yukiko Motoya
Genre: Short Stories
Number of Pages: 224
I’ve started writing more short stories lately so I figured it might help to read some collections. I started with The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya, which was a mixed bag. It’s an offbeat Japanese collection that uses magical realism to help drive home points on women’s lives and the relationships between the genders.
The titular story gets off to a good start with the day-to-day life of a woman who becomes obsessed with becoming a bodybuilder. Her oblivious husband doesn’t notice she’s being ripped, and she feels hurt that he doesn’t have any part in something that is so important to her. This story is written in a simple, accessible style and it’s easy to feel sympathy for the main character.
Her husband just takes her for granted but the ultimate takeaway is bittersweet and hopeful. I also liked the stories about the people with the umbrellas. However, some of the stories (including- to some extent- the novella-length one, ‘An Exotic Marriage’) just made me go ‘huh?’
The ones about the human-sized lump in the curtain and the woman in the dressing room seemed especially random and I wasn’t sure what the writer was getting at at all. I liked some of the surreal and absurdist imagery and the unexpected reactions of the characters but there were only a few stories that I really, really liked. The rest were okay but it wasn’t something that overall impressed me as much as I’d hoped it would.