April 21, 2013
Yugi Yamada – DMP/June – 2007 – 1 volume
This is a collection of short stories, which I tend to dislike. It’s hard for me to get into BL characters and/or the romance unless the characters are very good, which doesn’t usually happen with short stories. But since it was a Yugi Yamada volume, I had to read it. Happily, she’s very good at writing characters, and this wound up being my favorite volume of stories by her.
It’s mostly groups of related stories. The first section is the titular Picnic, which is a series of short stories that swap perspective between the two guys in the relationship. They’re a couple when the story starts, but from the first perspective, it seems like they might only be sex buddies. One of the guys is affectionate but scared the other doesn’t love him as much, and the other seems rather emotionally detached, but is really into the partner. The affectionate one is also very shy, while the emotionally detached one is somewhat bolder, if not as verbose. The perspective shifts are a nice touch, and it’s a wonderful way to tell the story, and neat to see the way the misconceptions work. It’s a sentimental piece, rather than her usual humorous work, but it reads just as well.
The second set of stories was very funny. It picks up in the middle of something, weirdly, and the story isn’t very good at rehashing the history of the two characters until the very end. But it doesn’t matter, because they’re the type of bickering couple that Yugi Yamada does better than almost anybody else. The two fight like nobody’s business, mostly about how bad one of them may or may not be at sex, whether or not they should have it, et cetera. Very funny stuff. I feel like I may have read the beginning of this relationship before elsewhere, but then again, I’m also re-reading this volume to write up the review, and I read it the first time over a year ago, so maybe I’m mistaken and am just remembering the story. Maybe it was part of Glass Sky?
There’s a creepy short story about an abandoned boy following around a guy that has sex with random partners and steals their money, but that’s followed up by the last set of stories, about a pair of shy salaryman that share an interest in literature. The younger one writes terrible books, and the older one comes over to get worked up about his lack of literary talent. Neither one can broach the subject of their feelings, and the younger one winds up getting transferred and moving away. They keep in touch via the story critiques, and the older one eventually makes a trip to Tokyo to see him, only to find that neither can still broach the subject of their feelings. It’s a subtle, sweet story that I enjoyed quite a bit.
Basically, Yugi Yamada is awesome, and you can pick up any one of her books without being disappointed. I preferred this to Glass Sky, in terms of short story collections. There haven’t been any new books by her translated into English in quite some time. Here’s hoping some will pop up soon.