‘Helix’ by Banana Yoshimoto

Helix by Banana Yoshimoto, 1995

The magic trick:

Creating an uncertain narrative reality through characters assembling memories

Funny thing about memory. It can be its own kind of unreliable narrator.

“Helix” does a great job of throwing the reader into the chaotic unreality of memory. It’s not magic realism. It’s not surrealism. It’s just the kind of story that results from an uneven, unreliable set of memories.

And that’s quite a trick on Yoshimoto’s part.

The selection:

“Do you think I’d forget the first time we went on a trip together?”

“We were so young then. Nineteen.”

“Yeah, remember how the maid at that inn said to me, ‘Your wife is so young!’? I can’t believe how people stick their noses into other people’s business!”

“Yeah, especially since I wasn’t any older than you.”

“No, but you looked older. Remember how big that room was? It was so spooky. Yeah, full of dark shadows.”

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