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The Lonesome Bodybuilder: Stories

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3.88  ·  Rating details ·  104 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
A housewife takes up bodybuilding and sees radical changes to her physique--which her workaholic husband fails to notice. A boy waits at a bus stop, mocking businessmen struggling to keep their umbrellas open in a typhoon--until an old man shows him that they hold the secret to flying. A woman working in a clothing boutique waits endlessly on a customer who won't come out ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 6th 2018 by Soft Skull Press (first published November 1st 2018)
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Uriel Perez
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
There's weird and then there's "Oh my goodness, what the heck did I just read?" weird. The stories collected in Yukiko Motoya's "The Lonesome Bodybuilder" belong to the latter group.

These stories are incisive explorations of domestic life fraught with tension and "out-of-left-field" bizarre field trips into the dark woods of the mind.

Immersive, captivating, I can't get enough of Yukiko Motoya!
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
These unique stories filled with magical realism take a tongue-in-cheek look at the relationships between men and women. The stories can seem weird at first, but once you get used to the author’s sly humor this is a great read.
Kazen
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
These surreal yet grounded stories are exactly my kind of thing.

Many start in the mundane - a happy or unhappy marriage, a scene at work. One strange but believable thing happens, then something a bit more odd, until Motoya leads you down a path to the absolutely absurd. It's ridiculous, but you can't imagine the story spinning out any other way.

Themes include knowing yourself, how we are changed by contact with other people, and the place of women in Japanese society. Even more so than in the W
...more
Lauren
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was utterly riveted by Motoya’s short stories.

I am not much of a short story reader and am very picky about those I do read. But I have found I really enjoy Asian fiction, so I was curious to read The Lonesome Bodybuilder.

Motoya’s stories are weird, but not a disturbing or uncomfortable weird. More like an engrossing blend of the human mundane and surreal minutia which fluctuates and grows as the story progresses.

There is nothing lost in translation. The writing is succinct and sharp; no fl
...more
Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: whack, short-stories
For fans of the modern stylings of Haruki Murakami, Etgar Keret, Carmen Maria Machado, Karen Russell, and Kelly Link, comes another uniquely brilliant voice in short fiction, and one we are lucky to have.

Most of the stories here center around themes of gender and power dynamics, as well as the problems, loneliness, and loss of true feelings and intimacy that can go along with being in relationships.

Motoya has a strangely specific ability to find a very realistic situation, like a married couple
...more
Chris
Sep 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: japanese-fiction
I received my copy of The Lonesome Bodybuilder from the publisher on Edelweiss+.

I have mixed feelings about this set of stories. At first, I thought I generally didn't like it. But, after thinking about each of the stories more, they're growing on me. I've had this reaction before with Oe, Ryu Murakami, and Ogawa, so I'm not going to complain.

I feel like each of the stories grabbed my attention or interest in different ways. Some of them, like The Lonesome Bodybuilder, Typhoon, Paprika Jiro, and
...more
Rebecca Marie
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Prior to reading the Lonesome Bodybuilder, I had never heard of Yukiko Motoya; now, I find myself a convert worshipping at her altar. Across eleven stories (narrated by women more often than not), the strange is used to displace very real questions about gender, power, and relationships. This is a book wherein a husband and wife begin resembling one another to the point that neither looks human; mountain peonies bloom out of underpants; strange men glide off buildings with the help of umbrellas ...more
Katie
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-reviews
Weird and wonderful, The Lonesome Bodybuilder is a delightfully odd collection of short stories. Using magical realism and the absurd, Yukiko Montoya explores gender roles, social convention, and marital power dynamics in small, powerful bursts.

Motoya’s eleven stories all begin with the ordinary, if not mundane, and slowly splinter into the fantastic. A young housewife transforms her body while weightlifting at the gym, yet her husband remains oblivious. A saleswoman gives superb customer servic
...more
Natalie (CuriousReader)
I was introduced to Yukiko Motoya through her short story “The Dogs” published in Granta magazine a few years back and have been eagerly anticipating more of her work making it over to the English book market. Motoya’s first book to be published in English, The Lonesome Bodybuilder, is a Pandora’s box of weird and magical stories. This collection as a whole starts of with stories of real tenderness but with a twist, they go in unexpected directions and it’s pure delight to experience them.

Full
...more
Madeline Partner
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
The stories in Motoya's collection revolve around love, intimate relationships and individuality. Motoya explores the niches of modern society, bringing out the magical in the everyday, in a slightly more up-front and surprising manner than the famed Haruki Murakami. Each story delves deep into the main character's mind, examining their reactions to those around them and the world they inhabit. To express these complex thoughts, Motoya often relies on magical realism, creating bizarre, unexpecte ...more
Colin
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book
Kenny Leck
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read the uncorrected proof copy, and in parts, it reminded me of the writings of Haruki Murakami, Yoko Tawada, and Hiromi Kawakami. But at the same time, there was a certain newness to it. The stories shone best when they were treated in the long form as the characters had room to grow. I'd would look forward to reading a novel from the author. Without the speculative-fict elements, the tone of the stories reminded one of reading Coetzee as well.
Vicki
This collection of short stories are indeed weird, but they're a very specific type of weird: they're Japanese weird. Japanese weird is it's own brand of WTF, as anyone who's seen a Japanese commercial can attest to. Guess what: that brand of weird isn't limited to just their commercials.

And while these stories are that style of weird, they're also poignant in a way that only works from a Japanese author. The weird isn't there for comedic purposes, it's there for thematic purposes. It's there to
...more
Alan
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Already much heralded in her native japan, Yukiko Motoya gets a first-ever English translation and we finally get to see why she has already received numerous literary awards. These 11 stories in the collection are ambiguous, surreal, and sometimes downright disturbing. As the collection progresses the stories become increasingly fantastical and, as good literature should, they make you think, not just ‘what the heck did I just read?’ but also ‘what does it actually mean?’

Many of the stories foc
...more
L S Popovich
Nov 08, 2018 rated it liked it
This new translation was at times fun and unique. The Akutagawa Prize winning story "An Exotic Marriage," was a magical realist masterwork, but the other stories burned very dimly by comparison. The author writes in a style similar to Kelly Link, I thought, but with fewer fantasy elements.
There are a lot of literary gimmicks, some morbid jokes inserted haphazardly, and plenty of dark irony. I would not elevate the collection as a whole to the clean mastery of Yoko Ogawa but it has the scattered
...more
Ann
In this book of 11 short stories translated by Asa Yoneda, Yukiko Motoya shows us that the mundane is just a curtain behind which the bizarre putters. In each story, a character discovers some form of freedom from what’s holding them back or down or in. My favorites are “Typhoon,” in which an 11-year-old boy watches as commuters struggle to keep their umbrellas open in a raging storm; “I Called You by Name,” in which a female ad exec in charge of a team meeting can’t ignore the weird bulge in th ...more
Larry Davidson
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully creative collection of short stories of varying lengths beginning with The Lonesome Bodybuilder, a story of a mild wife who begins to train with weights but whose transformation is not recognized by her husband. The last story is about a woman who marries a man of straw. And the longest story is about a man who loses his features and generally morphs with his wife into the same being.

A touch of Kafka and a touch of Murakami run throughout the stories. The reader never knows exactly
...more
Hannah
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
Excellent

Wonderful collection of surreal feminist stories. I definitely need to reread these. Motoya's stories explore marriage, gender and power, and domestic life, allowing the dreamy and nightmarish to unfold while maintaining a perfectly quotidian tone.
Patricia
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Utterly amazing, I couldn't put it. I recommend to those who love wacky stories. Really happy I got it.
Jacob Hoefer
Aug 10, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 for the book as a whole but some stories do stand out: An Exotic Marriage, Q & A, The Straw Husband were all a step above the rest. Paprika Jiro was proboably my favorite, absolute delight!
Stephen Kilpatrick
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Super weird but also super great
Margaryta
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, edelweiss
REVIEW FORTHCOMING
Mark
Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: story-collection
Not every story here works, but this is still an interesting collection and a couple of these offbeat tales, have a Murakami feel to them.
Soft Skull
rated it it was amazing
Mar 13, 2018
Janet
rated it did not like it
Oct 27, 2018
Beth Bedekovich
rated it really liked it
Oct 25, 2018
Michael
rated it really liked it
Nov 09, 2018
James Horrod
rated it really liked it
Oct 27, 2018
Anie
rated it really liked it
Oct 25, 2018
Susanna Quilter
rated it it was ok
Oct 25, 2018
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