Yukiko Motoya’s The Lonesome Bodybuilder, the Japanese writer’s first collection of short stories to be translated and published in America, is a glorious example of the Weirdly Weird thriving in its natural element. Yes, the stories have odd and absurd elements — like the one where the wife notices that her husband’s features are beginning to shift to resemble her own, or the one about the saleslady whose customer won’t come out of the changing room and also, incidentally, may not be human — that remind me of the magicality of Aimee Bender or surreality of Judy Budnitz. They have the subterranean psychological allure of fairy tale. But what’s oddest about these stories is the way they seem to insist on their own reasonable nature: unflaggingly sober and charmingly restrained, they are Kafkaesque fables fed through the sturdy heart of a Raymond Carver narrator.
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