Gush by Yo Hemmi
In this collection of three deeply bizarre yet comedic novellas, Hemmi delicately contemplates the interconnectedness of life. Gush recounts the narrator’s relationship with a beautiful young woman who suffers from a mysterious condition that causes her body to fill with water. In Night Caravan, the narrator embarks on a midnight journey in the company of two Vietnamese prostitutes and their pimp. Piano Wire tells the story of how one family’s struggle with cleanliness and order is radically changed when a mysterious teacher shows up on their doorstep.
As there are three separate stories in this collection, I thought I should mention each in turn:
Gush: I dislike magic realism so wondered how I would feel about a story based around a woman filling up with water. Would it be too abstract? Luckily no! An interesting story that doesn’t seem fantastical at all. I particularly liked the narrator’s strong voice. At the beginning he sounded like someone from a Victorian Sensational novel (you won’t believe me but let me tell you about the most curious thing I discovered on a regular day…) which I loved. Just the right amount of mystery! I also really liked his breaks in the story as well as the updates about his sales month in the office. How mundane!
Night Caravan: This is a short but wonderful character study that feels like Graham Greene meets Haruki Murakami. Well done sir!
Piano Wire: A great story by itself but I would have liked to see it set along a river somehow so to have a stronger link with the other two stories in the collection. I also think there was scope in this story for a more sinister tone; could the sound of the piano wire be more frequent and menacing? Is there something else about the kind stranger we should question? Regardless, it’s a slightly offbeat and enjoyable story.
Overall: Glad I stumbled across this collection!