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Memorial (2020)

de Bryan Washington

MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
3772752,675 (3.7)18

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Mostrando 1-5 de 26 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
This book had a good premise: a young gay couple, Mike, a Japanese-American, and Ben, Black, are in a steady but shakey relationship, living together, but not sure whether to remain a couple. Then Mike's Japanese mother arrives for an extended visit on the same day Mike is living for Japan to take care of his estranged father who is ill. Ben is left to deal with Mitsuko, Mike's mother.
The novel is told in basically two parts, one from Ben's point of view in Houston as he questions his relationship with Mike and potentially starts new relationships, all the while in uneasy "roommateship" with Mitsuko. The second part involves Mike in Japan, attempting to come to terms with his father, trying to decide whether to move to Japan to take over his father's restaurant, and also potentially starting new relationships.
I can tell the book is very well-written, and it has won lots of awards. But I don't know if so-called gay "Rom-Com" is for me. First, there is lots of explicitly described gay sex. I'm not a prude, but this was so unnecessary. The book is also not at all romantic, nor is it a comedy. Instead, I view it as the story of a failed relationship. The parts I liked best were those involving the relationships of Mike and Ben with their fathers. In both cases, the relationships were strained, there were long periods of estrangement, but they were working toward reconciliation. Ben's clash of cultures with Mitsuko was also interesting.

2 1/2 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Aug 19, 2021 |
Thank you NetGalley and Riverhead Books for the arc in return for an honest review!

I've had my eye on Memorial ever since I first heard about it a few months ago because I enjoyed Bryan Washington's book, Lot. This is literary fiction at its finest because it is so different than anything else being published right now. What stood out for me was that it partially takes place in Houston and as a Houston native the description of the different parts of the city just felt so comforting because of the ways the characters describe the city, it's not a perfect city and they know that, but it is their home. The characters are also different, Benson is a day care teacher who grew up middle class and black, while Mike is a chef and he is the son to Japanese immigrants that struggled. They have been in a relationship for a few years and it has all become very routine. The question becomes why they are together and is this what they want. An interracial gay couple with service jobs in a steady relationship with struggles is so refreshing to read. Then you add in their parents with their problems and input into their relationship and it makes a perfect story. Mike's dad lives in Japan and he is dying so he goes there to take care of him and his bar, leaving Benson with Mike's mother who is visiting from Japan to stay at their apartment., meanwhile Benson's dad is drinking heavily and his mom is too busy with her new family and his sister doesn't talk to their parents, leaving him to deal with his dad. Washington's writing of the situation adds some quick bits of humor and an introspective reflection on the men's relationships with their families and each other. I love that nothing is quite spelled out in terms of feelings, but instead are hinted at by thoughts and actions. It is realistic and the readers can feel the uncertainty in everything.

With all of that said, this book is not for everyone. If you want a light hearted rom-com book, I don't suggest this, but if you like complex characters and want to deep dive into a variety of relationships that all have a history you need to understand in order to get why the characters are doing what they are doing, you will love this book. ( )
  wellreadcatlady | Jul 16, 2021 |
audiobook fiction (read by queer #ownvoices author and [a:Akie Kotabe|20442505|Akie Kotabe|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-632230dc9882b4352d753eedf9396530.png]) - diverse relationships in Houston TX and Osaka, Japan. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
The Publisher Says: A funny, sexy, profound dramedy about two young people at a crossroads in their relationship and the limits of love.

Benson and Mike are two young guys who live together in Houston. Mike is a Japanese American chef at a Mexican restaurant and Benson's a Black day care teacher, and they've been together for a few years—good years—but now they're not sure why they're still a couple. There's the sex, sure, and the meals Mike cooks for Benson, and, well, they love each other.

But when Mike finds out his estranged father is dying in Osaka just as his acerbic Japanese mother, Mitsuko, arrives in Texas for a visit, Mike picks up and flies across the world to say goodbye. In Japan he undergoes an extraordinary transformation, discovering the truth about his family and his past. Back home, Mitsuko and Benson are stuck living together as unconventional roommates, an absurd domestic situation that ends up meaning more to each of them than they ever could have predicted. Without Mike's immediate pull, Benson begins to push outwards, realizing he might just know what he wants out of life and have the goods to get it.

Both men will change in ways that will either make them stronger together, or fracture everything they've ever known. And just maybe they'll all be okay in the end. Memorial is a funny and profound story about family in all its strange forms, joyful and hard-won vulnerability, becoming who you're supposed to be, and the limits of love.


My Review
: First, read this:
“There's this phenomenon that you'll get sometimes - but not too often, if you're lucky - where someone you think you know says something about your gayness that you weren't expecting at all. Ben called it a tiny earthquake. I don't think he was wrong. You're destabilized, is the point. How much just depends on where the quake originated, the fault lines.”

If your memory needs refreshing, my 2019 almost-perfect review of LOT: STORIESwill refresh your memories as to my entirely positive opinion of Author Washington's story-crafting chops.

This novel is a downer to read, I'm afraid. It is very much about the pain of loving another, and discovering that it's never *just* about Love. The best, most beautiful moments in the book are also deeply sad ones. And, while that's okay, it's a bit wearing on the nerves.

Nothing should detract from your eagerness to read the story, just be sure it suits your personal mood. The fact that the men in this story are AAPI and Black, nary a white man to be found, should spur white gay men to read it: Author Washington is a Person of Color, and is drawing your attention to the universality of learning to make a life as a gay man in a world that doesn't always know it doesn't like us; then add the very real prejudices of ethnicity, body image issues, HIV status...it's actually a damn funny book a good bit of the time, and that laundry list wouldn't make you think I thought so.

Break out of your mental ghetto and live a major moment in the family life of men like you, only different.
( )
1 vote richardderus | Jun 23, 2021 |
An easy and distinctive style of first person narrative drew me into this book, with lots of short sharp sentences. But disappointingly the “voices” of the two narrators (Benson and Mike) in their separate sections were not distinguishable to me, with Mike, as a Japanese American, sounding no different than Benson. The sex scenes were also a little too strident and gratuitous.
Set in a black neighbourhood of Houston, Texas, and Osaka, Japan which are locations I haven’t read about before, this is the story of Benson and Mike’s fragile relationship with each other and with their parents. Despite the weaknesses noted above, I really enjoyed this book for its very different world and the style, so I will look forward to Washington’s next book.

I learned about things outside my experience, such as PrEP, which is a drug to prevent the transmission of HIV, and there are the names of lots of cuisine and ingredients which were entirely alien to me, but which made sense in the story. I also learned a little Spanish, as Hispanic is spoken in Houston:
• lo encontramos por alla - we found it over there
• lo siento - I am sorry
• Necesitas cuidarlo - You need to take care of it
• Gabacho - word used to describe foreigners of different origins in previous history. Its origin is in Peninsular Spain, as a derogatory synonym of "French".

There are a few photos to accompany the text, “from” Mike when he is in Japan, as if we cannot imagine these scenes? Did we have photos in literary novels before Sebald? What do the photos add in this instance?

And then I wondered whether we, the readers, were expected to be able to visualise Houston without the prop of photos, but Washington was concerned that his style of writing in the first person would not enable the narrator to describe Osaka, as why would he? However, later, he does include a photo of Houston, so he could just be simulating the photos that Mike and Benson send each other. ( )
  CarltonC | Jun 11, 2021 |
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Mike's taking off for Osaka, but his mother's flying to Houston.
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Mike's never promised me anything. Only delivered or didn't. He always said that promises were only words, and words only meant what you made them.
But I guess that's the thing: we take our memories wherever we go, and what's left are the ones that stick around, and that's how we make a life.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)

813.6 — Literature American and Canadian American fiction 21st Century

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