Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Poetry of Kitchens

The place I like best in this world is the kitchen. No matter where it is, no matter what kind, if it's a kitchen, if its a place where they make food, it's fine with me. Ideally it should be well broken in. Lots of tea towels, dry and immaculate. White tile catching the light (ting! ting!)
I love even incredibly dirty kitchens to distraction - vegetable droppings all over the floor, so dirty your slippers turn black on the bottom. Strangely, it's better if this kind of kitchen is large. I lean up against the silver door of a towering, giant refrigerator stocked with enough food to get through a winter. When I raise my eyes from the oil-spattered gas burner and the rusty kitchen knife, outside the window stars are glittering, lonely.
Now only the kitchen and I are left. It's just a little nicer than being all alone.
When I'm dead worn out, in a reverie, I often think that when it comes time to die, I want to breathe my last in a kitchen. Whether it's cold and I'm all alone, or somebody's there and it's warm, I'll stare death fearlessly in the eye. If it's a kitchen, I'll think, "How good."
Banana Yoshimoto, Kitchen

I love kitchens, and I love Banana Yoshimoto's writing, so this is one of my favourite book openings. Like Haruki Murakami, there's something addictive about the way she puts words together. Apparently simple, straightforward, and colloquial, there are depths there, and a lyricism.

When I wrote My Candlelight Novel, I gave my kitchen loving side to Sophie, who wonders about 'the poetry of kitchens', and where it is. In the kerfuffle about the best title for that novel, I suggested 'The Poetry of Kitchens', but it was turned down. (I had always wanted to call it 'Candlelight Novel' and we ended up coming close to that original title.)

But if you're wondering about the poetry of kitchens, it's all there, in Banana Yoshimoto's beautiful book about mothers, loss, transsexuality and love.

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