How do you all enjoy the ending? I think the ending fit the book in that IMO the book did not have the greatest or most exciting plot but was interesting in a thoughtful, even sort of way.
I worry that maybe much was 'lost in translation' in this book. For instance, often times the narrators would talk in detail about the wording of their own and other characters' dialogue. Renee would even talk about the differences between subtly differently worded responses she could make, e.g. about how to ask to go to the bathroom. I have no way of being sure, but it seems very plausible that this all was much more interesting in its original language.
One thing that really hurt my ability to read the book is that I think there was an error when I downloaded it to my Nook and thus all the font was almost the same, meaning I had to rely mostly on the context to determine whether Paloma or Renee was narrating. This was also distracting since sometimes they each would get off into tangential, general commentary.
I think the author has a delightful and cleverly subtle sense of humor which showed during the book. For some reason, I found the whole scene in the bathroom at Kakuro's apartment to be hilarious.
Here are a few quotes from the book that I highlighted while reading:
We have to live with certainty that we'll get old and that it won't look nice or be good or feel happy. and tell ourselves that it's now that matters: to build something, now, at any price, using all our strength. Always remember that there's a retirement home waiting somewhere and so we have to surpass ourselves every day, make every day undying. Climb our own personal Everest and do it in such a way that every step is a little bit of eternity.
I highlighted the above quote from slightly before the middle of the book as I read it because I enjoyed the words so much. Incidentally, I think it is now particularly interesting in light of the ending and the overall themes of the book, namely the idea of mortality, beauty and the feeling of an eternal moment in the momentary appreciation beauty.
Here is another quote from the book that I highlighted, this one by Renee in regards to Ozu:
Never in my life have I felt so at ease. How can I explain? For the first time, I feel utterly trusting, even though I am not alone. Even with Manuela, to whom I would gladly entrust my life, I do not have this feeling of absolute security that comes when one is sure that understanding is mutual. Entrusting one's life is not the same as opening up one's soul, and although I love Manuela like a sister, I cannot share with her the things that constitute the tiny portion of meaning and emotion that my incongruous existence has stolen from the universe.
I think these are some very interesting and original thoughts on the basis of the deepness of loving relationship between so-called soul-mates or even that of some platonic, best friends. In the context of the story I think it speaks to the author's choice to have so little happen romantically between Renee and Ozu, of which all hope is lost upon her death, yet we can see it is clear something significant certainly was there.
Here is another quote I highlighted from Renee. This does not have much special significance to the story but I just really appreciated the depressing statement in itself:
Poverty is a reaper: it harvests everything inside us that might have made us capable of social intercourse with others, and leaves us empty, purged of feeling, so that we may endure all the darkness of the present day.
Finally, this is another quote from Renee right near the end that I think interestingly contrasts to her earlier statements regarding poverty and such:
...for those who are content, class struggle suddenly seems less important, I muse, surprised that my rebellious consciousness has yielded in this way.
I wonder whether or not that sentence reveals much of the intent of the author in drawing her characters. In other words, how much did the author intend Renee's (and I guess also Paloma's) political and social cynicism and criticism to be a reflection of more personal discontent?
Finally, want to say I love that this book contains a quote from an Eminem song.