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“Mr. Goodall’s Gloves” by Yasushi Inoue

This story is partially autobiographical and its central theme is memory.


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The protagonist goes to a famous restaurant in Nagasaki, where he happens to find a calligraphy written by Matsumoto Jun, whom her partner truly admires. Subsequently, in a foreign cemetery, he comes across a familiar name “Mr. Goodall”. These two serendipitous encounters make the protagonist ponder on his “Grandma Kano”. Because Kano was a former geisha and mistress of the protagonist’s great grandfather, people around her looked down on her. Matsumoto and Mr. Goodall were the only ones who interacted with her with respect. One day, she goes to a gathering with her partner, but is not allowed to enter the building. There, Mr. Goodall lends her his gloves because it’s cold outside. She cherishes the gloves through her entire life, which could represent the mixture of respect, the position she’s in, and pride.


This story made me think of how certain things would be remembered and how impactful one small act could be to a person. Inoue’s prose is evocative and philosophical. The translation by Michael Emmerich was really good too.


 

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