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Published : 2016
Translated from Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori : 2018
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Warning : This review contains spoilers!!
Keiko has worked at the convenience store for 18 years. She is very serious about being the perfect store worker. She feels at one with the store, even thinking about work when she’s at home.
She is a very strange woman, having no sympathy/empathy it seems, and simply goes through the motions like an android.
Yet, all is right in the store, she is content, and she feels she is the one constant.
Until Shiraha shows up.
Shiraha is a misogynistic, rambling, scrawny 30-something man who looks down on everybody who works such “lowly” jobs, calling them all “losers.”
Needless to say, he gets let go and everybody, including Keiko, is relieved.
Initially, I wondered what purpose Shiraha had in the story. I thought he was some sort of symbolic element? I. Was. Wrong.
Shiraha comes back into the flippin’ story (quite a bit later), and I still find him utterly deplorable.
Keiko is just minding her own dang business, when she finds Shiraha squatting outside the convenience store being a creep. They go out for coffee, and find themselves talking about societies expectations of them. Their friends and families expect them both to have a good career, be married, and have children.
Everybodys prying and dissapointment is insufferable to them.
Soooo they decide to move in together. Out of convenience. Keiko is supporting them both, and at first, it goes well.
Everybody is positively thrilled for Keiko. She’s living with a man?? When will he pop the question? When will you have babies?
Keiko is unhappy.
At some point, shit hits the fan and Shiraha convinces Keiko to leave the convenience store, in favor of a normal life.
Keiko spirals downwards, she feels she has no purpose in life if she isn’t working at the convenience store.
Shiraha is pressuring her to get a real job (all to support him!!), and as she’s on her way to an interview she stops at a convenience store in the nearby business district.
She feels at home, and decides yes, this is where I’m meant to be. She tells Shiraha to get lost, and makes the decision to go back to the convenience store.
That’s it, that’s the book. It started out as a love story between a store and a woman, and ended as a huge middle finger to societal expectations.
‘”I realize now,” I went on relentlessly. “More than a person, I’m a convenience store worker. Even if that means I’m abnormal and can’t make a living and drop down dead, I can’t escape that fact. My very cells exist for the convenience store.”‘
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“So the manual for life already existed. It was just that it was already ingrained in everyone’s heads, and there wasn’t any need to put it in writing. The specific form of what is considered an “ordinary person” had been there all along, unchanged since prehistoric times I finally realized.”
“Infecting each other like this is how we maintain ourselves as human is what I think.”
“The sensation that the world is slowly dying feels good.”
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This book certainly has a spot in my heart (the writing, oh my goodness), but the plot really didn’t pick up for a while. The first half of the book was a lot of background on Keiko and her unabashed love for the store.
Keiko is so endearing and strange you can’t help but enjoy reading about her.
This book kept me turning the page, wondering what strangeness would happen next, and when the plot started to pick up I zoomed through the rest of the book.
I worked at a gas station for 2 years, and I can honestly say that Murata writes it so well, accurately, and dare I say, romantically.
She made a convenience store romantic.
My rating: ★★★★ (4 stars)
Thanks for reading!
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Have you read this book? Did you like it? Let me know what you think!