Hardboiled opens as the narrator, a woman in her thirties, treks high above her secluded mountain hotel. As so often in Yoshimoto's supremely atmospheric stories, it is memory that forms the backdrop against which the present unfolds. In this case it is the memory of an old lover - the only woman she ever had intimate relations with - who died a year to the day previously. What unfolds is a night of intimation and blurred memory, disturbing signs and half-forgotten moments, as the narrator confronts the fears and the sense of loss that haunt her. In Hard Luck we find another female narrator, this one keeping vigil by the side of her sister who lies in a coma. Together with her father, and the brother of her sister's fiance, they appear almost trapped in a void, as they wait for the sister's death. Collectively the two stories brilliantly explore themes of love, loss and the ties that bind.
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