Memorial is one of those books that show, through the rating, that I appreciate different things about books.
This was assigned reading for my Queer Lit class and follows, an interracial gay couple. Mike is Japanese-American and Benson is Black. While they have a lot in common, they are total opposites in other ways and they kind of serve as a foil for each other. It’s an interesting dynamic.
As the story starts a few things are going on. Mike and Ben are questioning if their relationship is still working after 4 years. Mike is traveling to Japan because his father, who he has not seen since he was a child, is dying. At the same time Mike’s mom is coming to visit. She ends up staying in the guy’s apartment with Ben, who she has just met. The story is non-linear, jumping between present and past, and told from both Mike and Ben’s point of view. The book doesn’t focus so much on the big things that are happening, but more on the mundane. There is a quote in the book that sums it up.
There’s the thing that happens, then there is the shit that happens around it. They’re as important as the actual event.
But the event is still the thing that happens. It’s its own moment. (245)
That is how the story is structured. Around the big events. The characters know the big events are happening, the reader knows that the big events are happening, but all the focus isn’t on those big events. It’s about what is going on around those events. There is also a lot of talk about food. Food is a big part of this story and how it brings people together.
This isn’t the best book I have ever read, and I may not reread it. But it is well written. The story arc structure is on the non-conventional side, and I really appreciate that. There is a lot of nuance with the characters. While there isn’t much tone difference between Mike and Ben, how they react to the world around them is very different and they both grow as people by the end of the book.
The heart of this book is about family, relationships, and the importance of communication.
Totally worth checking out.