Book review: All The Lovers In The Night

Spoilers. Spoilers. Spoilers ahead!

This book is supposedly part of my Holy Week creative reset, but there were other things that I needed to prioritize during that period (like scrolling mindlessly through Tiktok) so I just finished reading it last night. All The Lovers In The Night is the first Mieko Kawakami book I've read, and it heavily reminded me of my life currently Strange  Weather In Tokyo written by another Kawakami (Hiromi). It is a character-based story, quite a bit dragging if you're a fast-paced-let's-get-it-on type of reader but nonetheless a fun, entertaining, and insightful read. 

I was a proofreader, spending every moment of my day, from morning to night, hunting for mistakes. - Fuyuko 

Fuyuko Irie is a freelance copyeditor who lives all by herself in a place where new relationships aren’t easy to establish. She spends most of her days working on manuscripts and corresponding with her editor, Hijiri. Later on, she adds getting drunk to the routine just to loosen herself up a bit and do things that her normal self would never dare try, even if it is as ordinary as visiting a cultural center in an attempt to discover a new hobby or interest which becomes the story’s first inciting incident. There she meets Mitsutsuka, a high school physics teacher (whom I imagined to be Wei Zheming in Perfect and Casual even though Mitsutsuka is evidently much older than him) who, just like any other guy in any story, becomes the catalyst for a significant change in Fuyuko’s life. 

It's not like I want people to hate me. I'm not just about to go out of my way to make them like me, either. Being liked is wonderful and all, but that's not what life is about, you know? - Hijiri 

I hated Hijiri's monologues. In the end, I just concluded that she must be that friend that always has to speak up her mind - that friend who always wants nothing but the best for all of you in the circle. Then there's Kyoko explaining her personality which I am not sure is making any sense somehow. Maybe it was envy, because surely one can't possibly just stay away from and dislike someone who is "convinced that anyone can succeed with enough effort and determination". Because girl, if your best friend tells you this kind of motivation, never let her go. 

Then there's also another one of her friends from high school whose married life has been nothing but frustrations and suspicions about a cheating husband and then confesses that she actually has a fair share of infidelity. She also says that having kids is like "you're not being there anymore, like your life just vanishes" and encourages you to do the same. In the end, she casually tells Fuyuko that "you're not one of the main characters in my life anymore." 

These kinds of people suck. They are the ones that should be avoided at all costs!

I happened to catch a glimpse of my reflection in the window glass... What I saw in the reflection was myself, in a cardigan and faded jeans, at age thirty-four. Just a miserable woman, who couldn’t even enjoy herself on a gorgeous day like this, on her own in the city, desperately hugging a bag full to bursting with the kind of things that other people wave off or throw in the trash the first chance they get. - Fuyuko

Eleanor Rigby is another magnificent book dedicated to all the lonely women in the world, Fuyuko included, who realize that their lives are drab and something needs to be done to make them fab. Alcohol intervention made it happen for Fuyuko as she finally mustered the courage to go out of the house in search of an exciting change. I'm pretty sure her plans for change did not constitute throwing up all over the place and being so drunk that she lost some of her belongings. And she absolutely didn't plan on stumbling upon a nice guy to help her with that, did she? 

That guy she met at the cultural center is a physics instructor who'd lure her with books and coffee and I'd say it's dangerous. Books and coffee are a never good combination for a fragile woman like me. For Fuyuko, there are other things about Mitsutsuka that could have red flags. If someone does not offer any information about them, does that mean they are up to something? But then again, confiding to a complete stranger is basically the point, because they are not "main characters" in your life and therefore you can never be judged.  

Innovation has offered great things to mankind, but then there are days when you want to be inconvenienced by going to the cafe across town to pay the cash you owed the nice guy who helped you when you got mugged. Fuyuko definitely had to find a way to see him again, right? Until it became an outstanding Thursday coffee session. A once-a-week schedule that echoed her tragedy in the distant past, Fuyuko must have known what was coming with the questions she eventually asked Mitsutsuka, and took it personally when he responded the way he did. 

I swear, it pisses me off sometimes . . . Being around you.

I guess Fuyuko's biggest devastation wasn't the way she and Mitsutsuka ended, but how things were almost reminiscent of her teenage tragedy. Add the fact that Hijiri reverberated the words she heard from that same tragedy, it must have pierced through her soul, and thought maybe, just maybe, those words had some truth to them. 

No light lasts forever. - Mitsutsuka

I'd like to think that Fuyuko ended up writing her own book. When you read a lot of books, and edit some more, you'll notice that every one of them is all the same. All stories are the same. So you start looking for something different. It won't be easy to find so you'd write your own story. Because, how can it be the same as mine, when it is your story, right?