The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya

The Lonesome Bodybuilder

A housewife takes up bodybuilding and sees radical changes to her physique--which her workaholic husband fails to notice. A boy waits at a bus stop, mocking businessmen struggling to keep their umbrellas open in a typhoon--until an old man shows him that they hold the secret to flying. A woman working in a clothing boutique waits endlessly on a customer who won't come out of the fitting room--and who may or may not be human. A newlywed notices th...

Details The Lonesome Bodybuilder

TitleThe Lonesome Bodybuilder
Release DateNov 6th, 2018
PublisherSoft Skull Press
GenreShort Stories, Fiction, Cultural, Japan, Asian Literature, Japanese Literature, Magical Realism

Reviews The Lonesome Bodybuilder

  • Sam Quixote
    A lonely housewife takes up bodybuilding. A shop assistant tries to find the perfect outfit for a customer she never sees who’s locked in the fitting room. Broken umbrellas make people fly in typhoons, small musical instruments fall out of straw husbands and women duel with their male partners in the night - this is Yukiko Motoya’s short story collection, Picnic in the Storm! I quite liked The Lonesome Bodybuilder though the ending was a bit ...
  • Robin Bonne
    4.19 Stars. I decided to rate each individual story in this collection. The author used magical realism to create modern fairytales around the complex feelings of womenhood. The translator did a lovely job with this one, and it included modern slang terms which a less talented translator might have gotten slightly wrong.The Lonesome Bodybuilder5/5 -Excellent story about a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage. She decides to become a bodybuilder. ...
  • Raeleen Lemay
    My faves were The Lonesome Bodybuilder, An Exotic Marriage, The Women, and Q&A. This was such a weird, surreal collection and I really really enjoyed it! I want to read more stories like these!!
  • Kazen
    These surreal yet grounded stories are exactly my kind of thing.Many start in the mundane - a happy or unhappy marriage, a scene at work. One strange but believable thing happens, then something a bit more odd, until Motoya leads you down a path to the absolutely absurd. It's ridiculous, but you can't imagine the story spinning out any other way.Themes include knowing yourself, how we are changed by contact with other people, and the place of wom...
  • Skyler Autumn
    3 Stars A collection of bizarre short stories The Lonesome Bodybuilder takes us from a woman whose husband is so completely oblivious to her that he is unable to notice her transformation as she goes from scrawny to a complete muscular bodybuilder, to a woman that believes she is slowly transforming into her husband physically, to a shop clerk stuck trying to help a mysterious being behind the changing room curtain, to a woman taking her boyfrien...
  • Uriel Perez
    There's weird and then there's "Oh my goodness, what the heck did I just read?" weird. The stories collected in Yukiko Motoya's "The Lonesome Bodybuilder" belong to the latter group.These stories are incisive explorations of domestic life fraught with tension and "out-of-left-field" bizarre field trips into the dark woods of the mind.Immersive, captivating, I can't get enough of Yukiko Motoya!
  • Resh (The Book Satchel)
    A mixed bag of stories. The common themes include marriage, gender dynamics, loneliness and intimacy. Most stories have a magical realism twist as well - people turn into flowers, people fly away in umbrellas. While some stories are bizarre, some are excellent because of the way they deal with human psychology (An Exotic marriage). There are 11 stories in the collection;Some of the stories stood out more than the others. Here are my favs:Favourit...
  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)
    These unique stories filled with magical realism take a tongue-in-cheek look at the relationships between men and women. The stories can seem weird at first, but once you get used to the author’s sly humor this is a great read.
  • Katie
    Weird and wonderful, The Lonesome Bodybuilder is a delightfully odd collection of short stories. Using magical realism and the absurd, Yukiko Montoya explores gender roles, social convention, and marital power dynamics in small, powerful bursts.Motoya’s eleven stories all begin with the ordinary, if not mundane, and slowly splinter into the fantastic. A young housewife transforms her body while weightlifting at the gym, yet her husband remains ...
  • Bill Hsu
    Spotted this on Marie-Therese's feed, and immediately added it to my shelves. I enjoyed most of these surreal, funny, and twisted narratives (with the possible exception of "The Straw Husband"). The (mostly female) protagonists have to navigate some frustrating relationships, with an admirable can-do attitude. The longest piece, "An Exotic Marriage", starts:One day, I realized that I was starting to look just like my husband.Being a Brian Evenson...
  • Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)
    For fans of the modern stylings of Haruki Murakami, Etgar Keret, Carmen Maria Machado, Karen Russell, and Kelly Link, comes another uniquely brilliant voice in short fiction, and one we are lucky to have.Most of the stories here center around themes of gender and power dynamics, as well as the problems, loneliness, and loss of true feelings and intimacy that can go along with being in relationships. Motoya has a strangely specific ability to find...
  • Lauren
    I was utterly riveted by Motoya’s short stories. I am not much of a short story reader and am very picky about those I do read. But I have found I really enjoy Asian fiction, so I was curious to read The Lonesome Bodybuilder. Motoya’s stories are weird, but not a disturbing or uncomfortable weird. More like an engrossing blend of the human mundane and surreal minutia which fluctuates and grows as the story progresses. There is nothing lost in...
  • Lauren
    Delightfully weird short stories! My favorites in the collection were the title story "The Lonesome Bodybuilder" and the sprawling "An Exotic Marriage".
  • Marc
    Strange. Surreal. Weird. All of these descriptions capture a facet of Motoya's stories, but no one word can really communicate the unique way the twisted is treated so naturally. It's almost like the magical aspects are the most normal part of the stories. The longest story, "An Exotic Marriage," had me the least interested and thinking I might rate the whole collection 3 stars, but almost every other story intrigued, surprised, and transfixed me...
  • Madeline
    The stories in Motoya's collection revolve around love, intimate relationships and individuality. Motoya explores the niches of modern society, bringing out the magical in the everyday, in a slightly more up-front and surprising manner than the famed Haruki Murakami. Each story delves deep into the main character's mind, examining their reactions to those around them and the world they inhabit. To express these complex thoughts, Motoya often reli...
  • Christine
    I read 6 of the 11 stories, so feel that I've given the book a fair shake ... but this just wasn't for me. I'm okay with fiction that is absurd and/or surreal as long as the writer can capture my attention with a well told story. The deeper I got into this collection, the less I wanted to turn the page. Reading this book had become a chore so it was time to stop. There's something here, I'd give this author another chance, but this book, for me, ...
  • Chris
    I received my copy of The Lonesome Bodybuilder from the publisher on Edelweiss+.I have mixed feelings about this set of stories. At first, I thought I generally didn't like it. But, after thinking about each of the stories more, they're growing on me. I've had this reaction before with Oe, Ryu Murakami, and Ogawa, so I'm not going to complain.I feel like each of the stories grabbed my attention or interest in different ways. Some of them, like Th...
  • Lindy
    I think there's an assumption that in becoming an adult, people have made peace with their essential selves, the essential selves of those around them, and the social roles they consciously and subconsciously fulfill. But this isn't true-- we still fear that we cannot ever fully know the strangers that lurk beneath our and our loved ones' public faces and we often don't know how to ask for what we want out of the world. I loved this collection's ...
  • Alan
    Yukiko Motoya is a 21st-Century Japanese playwright and author, whose debut collection The Lonesome Bodybuilder contains eleven stories. In each of them, the ordinary becomes extraordinary—one way or another, one after another, however mundanely they begin, these tales veer into... something else, something which removes them from the realm of mimetic fiction and into—not science fiction, nor even fantasy, but certainly some sort of speculati...
  • Anita Fajita Pita
    A series of stories that got progressively stranger. Yukio Motoya invokes magical surrealism, something I may have just made up because it works, to really delve into human relationships and with, honestly, a pretty badass feminist undercurrent. She begins with stories of housewives looking for themselves (The Lonesome Bodybuilder), looking for their husbands (An Exotic Marriage), progressing through stories of courtship involving bloody gang fig...
  • Joe M
    A bizarre and memorable collection, Yukiko Motoya's stories start off in seemingly familiar places (a retail shop's fitting room, a bus stop, a mountain cabin) before turning reality upside-down and going off in surreal and completely unpredictable directions. Carmen Maria Machado has a blurb on the cover which is fitting as they both fall into a similar camp of storytelling which combines the strange and unsettling, with an absurd and decidedly ...
  • Sara Klem
    I'm a fan. It has all the outlandishness of a Moshfegh story collection with a Japanese bent and a dose of magical realism. I think what tied these stories together for me was that many of them are about how women make themselves smaller or compromise their wants in various forms of relationships, though other than that, the stories are too bizarre to be "alike." There were two stories, Paprika Jiro and The Straw Husband, for which the meaning wa...
  • Tessy Consentino
    Really bizarre, inventive short stories! Just how I like them.
  • Kurt Kemmerer
    I’m not going to pretend to have understood every story in this wonderfully surreal collection, but I loved every minute I spent with this book. Oh, and the story “An Exotic Marriage” is absolutely brilliant. It has to be among a pantheon of the world’s greatest short works, because I might like hyperbole, but it’s that good, anyway.
  • D
    This is a collection of short stories by Motoya Yukiko, whom I've never heard of before. I admit I went 'wtf did I just read?' more than once while reading the stories. With these kind of stories--the ones that are strange and sometimes incomprehensible-- it's easy for me to get lost. I don't like this experimental kind of style in art and movies because I have a literal mind and I like things to be less metaphorical and more solid. I tend to lik...
  • Lex Poot
    Wildly uneven set of short stories. While there are 8 brilliant ones 3 did not meet my expectations despite the positive review of Oe himself though that may have been for a shorter collection that was published in Japan.
  • Zac Smith
    there are two main strengths: one is a confident flippancy, wherein the stories are sort of satirical misdirections concerning absurd concepts in popular culture -- there's a surreal take on 'action movie scenes' played out in a fruit market and one with a Kill Bill/Anime-esque 'infinite henchmen vs. blue-haired girl' and both wrap up with unexpected absurdism.two is a (of course) Murakami/Banana-esque mysteriousness that grips you for some page-...
  • Madeleine Dunderlin
    I find it hard to read short story collections from cover to cover relatively fast - not in pace but cover to cover - since I often tire of the constant "disruption" in the narrative, as was the case even here. With that said, I seem to like short story collections when the genre is magic realism and with a narrator that is somewhat consistent. I liked Picnic in the Storm very much for those exact reasons and the collection was similar to Her Bod...
  • Madison
    This was a really interesting and refreshing collection. I’ve been loving the number of absurd/whimsical/dark story collections coming out—What Is Not Yours is Not Yours, Her Body and Other Parties, the Merry Spinster...they all chase after a similar goal, although some are definitely more successful than others. This collection will stick with me, and I definitely recommend it for fans of the others.