Posts Tagged ‘Haruki Murakami’

The Strange Library

by Haruki Murakami

I remember browsing through Amazon right after I ordered Colorless Tsukuru…and seeing the pre-order for a book called The Strange Library. Its release date was only a few months after Colorless…normally knowing how long it takes to get a murakami book translated..I was baffled at the immediate release….

I acquired the book recently and read it in one sitting. Because you can read it in one sitting. Well, technically, you can read any book in one sitting, but this one especially since it’s so petite.

The Book is designed and art directed by famous cover designer Chip Kidd, but he did a lot more for this story than for his other hired gigs. There were numerous images running throughout the pages. They weren’t all original drawings or art, a lot of collected images from the internet made the cut in low resolution (but I think that’s the point).

It’s a very beautiful little compilation. And for ten bucks, what else can you get? Like a fancy coffee? In my opinion, it’s not the best Murakami read, it’s too short for it to be savored. And his, at times, long-winded style can only be truly enjoyed in its full capacity. I did’t get much out of this little book but I still enjoyed it. It’s a nice piece of art to have at home and to flip through at times.

If you’re a huge murakami fan, you should probably get it. but If you are just an average reader of his, you can probably peruse this at the library in twenty minutes.

All the books that I’ve been reading lately…have been petite. Well, I’m pretty busy with catching up on all the Oscar noms you know (i’m kidding but I have been watching more movies than reading books lately, also I think my attention span has been shot…)

Posted: January 18th, 2015
Categories: BOOKS
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Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

by Haruki Murakami

Whenever I feel like I don’t know what to read I end up reading Murakami. I think I am pretty much through with his catalogue, including the two novellas that were never released outside of Japan but were translated into English and available for sale on Amazon Japan.

As you can see I stopped kidding myself that i could read a book in a week and every week.

Honestly I read this at work so maybe only half of it went in my head. The beginning was great then it slowed down and I really didn’t enjoy the parts about the leeches. The ending was great and felt really calming for some reason even though the protagonist was going to basically lose it.

It’s definitely not my favorite Murakami book for sure but it wasn’t bad? I can’t tell because I feel numb from all this mistreatment that I’m getting from work, okay thanks bye

Posted: February 21st, 2013
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The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami

ah, another murakami? I don’t know why that’s all I’m reading these days. Well I’m also in the middle of Hemingway’s boat…a book about Hemingway and his boat, Pilar.

But to talk about the book at hand, The Elephant Vanishes is a collection of short stories, the very last story in the collection being the title of the book.

what can I say, it’s boring, this one. Sometimes you read Murakami and you’re like, oh okay, yeah it makes very little sense and has so little density set in reality but you get it, because it’s suppose to be one of those things that’s not supposed to make much sense but you’re supposed to feel attached to it.

This collection of stories were kind of boring, I just didn’t care about anybody. Also there is way too much repetition of character names and jobs in the stories. they all sort of work for some kind of appliance company, a guy in his late 20s or early 30s, and a few of whom are all named noboru watanabe. A name that is used in The Wind-up Bird chronicles (I think tha’ts the title, i am too lazy to look it up and my memory is not that of an elephant’s apparently).

There were a few interesting stories but i found myself skimming rather than reading…. I feel bad when I do that, and I don’t like the book if the book forces me to skim…..

anyways…. there are still a few memorable quotes, as noted below.

So the mother boarded a train to buy her husband his souvenir lederhosen. In her train compartment sat a middle-aged German couple, who compartment sat a middle-aged German couple, who conversed with her in halting English. “I go now to buy lederhosen for souvenir,” the mother said. “Vat shop you go to?” the couple asked. The mother named the name of the shop, and the middle-aged German couple chimed in together, “Zat is ze place, jah. it is ze best.” Hearing this, the mother felt very confident.

Memory is like fiction; or else it’s fiction that’s like memory. This really came home to me once I started writing fiction, that memory seemed a kind of fiction, or vice versa. Either way, no matter how hard you try to put everything neatly into shape, the context wanders this way and that, until finally the context isn’t even there anymore. You’re left with this pile of kittens lolling all over one another. Warm with life, hopelessly unstable. And then to put these things out as saleable items, you call them finished products – at times it’s downright embarrassing just to think of it. Honestly, it can make me blush. And if my face turns that shade, you can be sure everyone’s blushing.

What is there to do? I just go back to gathering kittens and piling them up again. Exhausted kittens, all limp and played out. But even if they woke to discover themselves stacked like kindling for a campfire, what would the kittens think? Well, it might scarcely raise a “Hey, what gives?” out of them. In which case – if there was nothing to particularly get upset about – it would make my work a little easier. that’s the way I see it.

Posted: May 15th, 2012
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Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami

On the beginning of my trip to nyc, i started reading the chronicles of narnia. For some reason, despite the fact that I am sort of an escapist, I really wasn’t a huge fantasy buff. Something about it unsettled me. I needed it to be fantasy but grounded in reality. Children’s fantasy wasn’t something that I always found myself obsessed with. Strange, perhaps I’ve always been a child that wanted to do realistic things but they were tainted with unrealistic expectations or what do you call it, optimism.

I decided to read Dance Dance Dance among the many other fine works of fiction in my kindle simply because I had saw a picture of my friend (on instagram no less) reading a murakami novel. And at that instant, tainted with sadness and strangeness, I felt like it was the perfect antidote to my endless lethargy.

The protagonist is a free-lance writer that often travels for his work. He churns out (in his opinion) meaningless articles for magazines everywhere, and possibly about everything. He works fast and is reliable but none of it seems to interest him. He calls what he does “shoveling snow”, even though it is necessary, it is uninteresting and yields no merit really. But it’s work that someone has to do.

The protagonist finds himself in Sapporo looking for the hotel that he had once inhabited with his lover Kiki, but Kiki disappeared and he thinks by going to this hotel there would be answers waiting for him. There, he meets a young and attractive receptionist and a young 13 year old girl that soon wedges herself into his life.

It gives the message that everything in our life is connected, and meeting each person is like pushing over the next domino in line that will eventually lead you to a great ending that is definitely supposed to mean something.

Murakami is anything if not reliable. When you read something by him, you can instantly pick up his style and mannerisms. The descriptions of the characters, the sometimes boring and predictable story line, and the way that everything is so goddamn neat really shines through everything that he writes. The themes of music and clothing always repeats itself throughout his prose. The only work that I felt was a bit messy were his earlier works that were never published outside of Japan. Pinball 1973 and Hear the Wind Sing.

I really liked this book despite all of those “flaws”. They can’t really be called flaws because a lot of the times, you read the same author again and again not because you expect a brand new way of writing and style but because you want something comfortable and easy. Reading isn’t a challenging activity, but it’s supposed to bring immense comfort that nothing else could. Murakami is quite comforting, sure, a lot of the times I don’t think he does anything brilliantly new or profound but the comfort is what we are seeking. Especially when I picked up this book.

I recommend it if you’re feeling blue and lost. Instead of feeling blue and lost about your own life, instead join this lost blue world.

Quotes:

Occasionally we’d hear the dull rattling of the elevator, but when it stopped the oppressive silence bore down once more. I picked this one for my own benefit, I just liked it

For three and a half years. I’d been making this kind of contribution to society. Shoveling snow. You know, cultural snow.

Though both of us knew there was no place this thing could go. Still, we quietly shared something approaching a pardon from life. I knew days of peace for the first time in ages.

I went into a small bar I remembered, and had a few drinks and a bite to eat. The place was dirty, noisy, cheap, and good. The kind of hole-in-the-wall I always look for when I have to eat out alone. Places like this put me at ease, never make me feel lonely. I can talk to myself and nobody listens or cares.

There in the dim light, staring at the shadow on the ball, I poured out the story of my life. It had been so long, but slowly, like melting ice, I released each circumstance. How I managed to support myself. Yet never managed to go anywhere. Never went anywhere, but aged all the same. How nothing touched me. And I touched nothing. How I’d lost track of what mattered. How I worked like a fool for things that didn’t. How it didn’t make a difference either way. How I was losing form. The tissues hardening, stiffening from within. Terrifying me. How I barely made the connection to this place. This place I didn’t know but had this feeling that I was part of … This place that maybe I knew instinctively I belonged to …

“Everybody has to grow up.”
“You’re right there. I used to think the years would go by in order, that you get older one year at a time,” said Gotanda, peering into my face. “But it’s not like that. It happens over night.”

and this is what I mean by SO NEAT
I took shirts to the cleaners and picked some up. I stopped by the bank, got some cash from the ATM, paid my phone and gas bills, paid my rent. I had new heels put on my shoes. I bought batteries for the alarm clock. I returned home and straightened up the place while listening to fen. I scrubbed the bathtub. I cleaned the refrigerator, the stove, the fan, the floors, the windows. I bagged the garbage. I changed the sheets. I ran the vacuum cleaner. I was wiping the blinds, singing along to Styx’s “Mister Roboto,” when the phone rang at two.

Posted: May 11th, 2012
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Hear the Wind sing

by Haruki Murakami

This is another one of the novels that he wrote that was never allowed for publication outside of Japan. I enjoyed this one a lot more than Pinball 1973. And I actually thought it was really good over all.

the story is about this guy, the protagonist, his name unknown, and basically the summer he spent in his hometown after coming home from college in Tokyo. The protagonist is 21 years old and he frequents a bar called J’s, which was also encountered in Pinball 1973. There, he is friends with someone named Rat, who is also a recurring character.

The protagonist recalls about his life, the girls he had slept with, and his encounter with a girl that was once a twin and only had 4 fingers. There is some conversation, nothing too life changing though.

It was a very pleasant and very short read. Not exactly recommended or not recommended. It’s so short that it probably won’t hurt.

quotes

After washing down my last mouthful of horse mackerel with beer and cleaning my plate, I grabbed the copy of L’Education sentimentale I’d been reading and started flipping through the pages.

//

“Because Flaubert’s already dead.”

“You don’t read books by living people?”

“Living authors don’t have any merit.”

“Why’s that?” “Dead authors, as a rule, seem more trusting than live ones.” I said this as I was watching the rebroadcast of Route 66 on the portable television in the middle of the counter.

The Rat thought about my answer for a minute. “Hey, how about living authors? Aren’t they usually trusting?”

“How should I put this…I haven’t really thought about it like that. When they’re chased into a corner, they might become that way. Probably less trusting.” J came over and set two cold beers in front of us.

“And if they can’t trust?” “They fall asleep clutching their pillows.” The Rat shook his head, looking upset. “It’s strange, I’ll give you that. Me, I have no idea.”

//

I’ll tell you about the third girl I slept with. It’s really difficult to talk about dead people, but it’s even harder to talk about dead young women. It’s because from the time they die, they’ll be young forever. On the other hand, for us, the survivors, every year, every month, every day, we get older. Sometimes, I feel like I can feel myself aging from one hour to the next. It’s a terrible thing, but that’s reality.

Posted: March 6th, 2012
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Pinball 1973 by Haruki Murakami

One of the two short novels that were never published outside of Japan in English.
But of course I can find everything on the internet.

It is one of his earlier works and perhaps because I know this, it feels less complete.

We have the usual sort of Murakami-dipped style of writing, the characters, the details, the bartender, the girls, the obsession, the mention of music and even the shift in time-line , character-line but it overall felt less complete. I didn’t read it very carefully, so perhaps this is why, but the story line jumped too much and I felt nothing during, or after I finished reading.

I don’t really know what else to say about it, the follow three short quotes caught my eye though.

stray observations, none of murakami’s characters ever have a trouble finding a job, or starting a company, everyone is successful in the most obvious definition of the word. I find that strange, but perhaps, because of their easy success with things, they find ways to torture themselves with situations that are out of this world.

“Even if, say, someone dies, we don’t feel sad,” said the guy from Venus, an ultra-quiet type. “We’d rather just show that much more love while the person’s alive. That way, there’s no regret afterward.”

While you’re playing yourself out in lonesome dissipation in front of a pinball machine, someone else might be reading through Proust. Still another might be engaged in heavy petting with a girlfriend at a drive-in theater showing of Paths of Courage. The one could well become a writer, witness to the age; the others, a happily married couple.

Dreamily she closed her eyes and pressed against the Rat. From his shoulder on down, the Rat felt the supple weight of her body. An odd sensation, that weight. This being that could love a man, bear children, grow old, and die; to think one whole existence was in this weight.

Posted: February 27th, 2012
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6: Blind Willow, sleeping woman

by Murakami Haruki

it’s a short story collection of 24 stories. which if you ask me, is a pretty large collection.

one of the stories is an excerpt from norwegian wood.

i’ve not thought much about writing short stories simply because it feels like you don’t have a lot of control over things but at the same time it’s awesome because you can dive right in and not care about the beginning or the end. more than often i feel like short stories is a middle of something because the ending it gives often not solve a problem, perhaps yes but it would leave a lot of questions hanging as well…

it sorta inspired me to write short stories as well …

Posted: January 13th, 2012
Categories: 52 weeks, BOOKS
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18: 1Q84

Oh So very behind on the reading and writing about what i’m reading thing. I have to read 17 more books by January 15th to make the year! There are a few books that i’ve never finished but still counted it as a week but there were also weeks where i read two so it evens out i think….

my room is crazy cold right now ;_; I don’t know why or maybe just my hand is crazy cold.

anyways.

I finally finished this behemoth of a Murakami novel, 3 volumes in 1, the American version anyway.

I am planning to write about this book, or at least I had wanted to, maybe I won’t, for one of my grad school applications cause we have to….write about a book…

First impressions weren’t good, the whole time I felt like I read this before. I’ve read several of Murakami’s previous works and its so similar in some ways that he’s just literally regurgitating what he’s written before. But as I read more the plot developed more but like every other time, I cannot attach myself to any of his characters…

also here’s something else that i realized, he hates ugly people!

Maybe I’m wrong but the name ushikawa was used in the Wind up Bird Chronicles, and that character acted as some sort of a devious informant. It’s very interesting in the chapters that were labeled Ushikawa that he himself knew of his ugliness. Literally and I mean very literally, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes it’s not about the height of your cheekbones or the length of your eyelashes but confidence, charisma that attracts people to you, or not to you. Models are beautiful naturally, but if she didn’t stand up straight and pout her lips like she could have you because she could, you might feel differently about her. And why does she look like that? It’s her freaking job to look good. And in general, we love beautiful people, it can’t be helped.

So ushikawa’s strange shaped head, general perverseness was keenly described in this novel as well as WUBC. I feel like Murakami has something against someone named Ushikawa.

Now about the characters….

They are the same person. when have you or me in this instance, ever read about a Murakami character that wasn’t neat? that didn’t do the dishes right after they cooked? That didn’t dressed in perfectly wrinkle-free clothes? The ladies were fine and classy, they were armani and ferragamo, they were fashionable and confident yet often stirred into this horrendous, weird-sexed world.

Also, if I have to read about the swelling of a young girl’s chest ONE MORE TIME! I’ve never noticed how rare it is that pubic hair is described in a novel until I’ve read how often it is described in Murakami’s books, WISPY WISPY?

It’s an interesting story, but in the end it lead me to a disappointing end. They got off easy, people died for them and they just sorta ended up together with a baby?

You could say that love transcends all time and beliefs, it transcends space and flesh but really? This many people died so you guys could get together at the end and have a kid?

It was some what anticlimatic and too convenient of a way to end the novel.

I was really disappointed that he chose this route.

What I realized is that for this kind of weird shit not to happen to you it’s better to lead a messy life. If it’s too clean and neat you’re going to get screwed and start seeing 2 moons in the sky. Just not have your life together, don’t iron your clothes, don’t have the ability to cook a meal from ingredients from your fridge, eat out more often and stay away opportunities that seem to good to be true. That’s the general consensus that i got from his novels, don’t be that awesomely well-read jazzy-listening person, and these kind of things will steer clear of you, because you won’t be able to pull out philosophical references from your ass, and you’ll seem too stupid to be apart of something so grand and schematic.

I don’t know that much about the world, and whether these things exist or not is beyond me, and i hope it never happens to me.

That being said, I do have some quotes…

page 229 Then he sat in a kitchen chair and drank his beer in silence while staring at the calendar on the wall. It was a free calendar from the bank containing photos of Mount Fuji. Tengo had never climbed Mount Fuji. He had never gone to the top of Tokyo Tower, either, or to the roof of a skyscraper. He had never been interested in high places. He wondered why not. Maybe it was because he had lived his whole life looking at the ground.

page 248 All I can do is live the life I have. I can’t trade it in for a new one. However strange and misshapen it might be, this is it for the gene carrier that is me.

page 257 “Robbing people of their actual history is the same as robbing them of part of themselves. It’s a crime.”

this one is personal, WWII, nanjing, Japan you better keep on remembering.

page 313 Tamaru met Aomame at the front door, wearing a dark summer suit, white shirt, and solid-color tie. There was not a drop of sweat on him. Aomame always found it mysterious that such a big man did not sweat on even the hottest summer days.

this is an example of what i mean by being too clean, how can a large man in the middle of summer just not sweat? why are his characters so flawed in that sense? Sweating makes you weak?

page 332 Friends? Tengo wondered – out of pure curiosity – what kind of person would want to be this man’s friend.

why i can’t like this character Tengo, he’s so full of himself? arrogance is alright in books but don’t make him out to be some kind of a saint that deserves a supernatural reunification with his classmate from 20 years ago.

page 570 The driver hummed the first few bars of the theme song. Then he looked in the mirror for another close look at Aomame.
“come to think of it, miss, something about you reminds me of Faye Dunway.”
“Thank you,” Aomame said, struggling somewhat to hide the smile that formed around her lips.

you can charm an assassin with a compliment apparently

582 “I can’t say that things are going all that well for the moment, but if possible I’d like to make my living by writing – not just rewriting somebody else’s work but writing what I want to write, the way I want to write it. Writing – and especially fiction writing – is well suited to my personality, I think. It’s good to have something you want to do, and now I finally have it. Nothing of mine has ever been published with my name on it, but that ought to happen soon enough. I’m really not a bad writer, if I do say so myself. at least one editor gives me some credit for my talent. I’m not worried on that front.”

for myself…..

616 “I don’t think I’m lonely,” Aomame declared. She said this half to Tamaru, and half to herself. “I’m all alone, but I’m not lonely.”

639 Aomame didn’t find it painful to be shut away, living a monotonous, solitary existence. she got up everyday at six thirty and had a simple breakfast. Then she would spend an hour or so doing laundry, ironing, or mopping the floor. For an hour and a half in the morning she used the equipment Tamaru had obtained for her to do a strenuou workout. As a fitness instructor she was well versed in how much stimulation all the various muscles needed every day – how much exercise was just right, and how much was excessive.

the following passage is from Murakami’s interview with the paris Review

When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine p.m. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long—six months to a year—requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.

Here’s another thing, whether poor or rich, all of the protagonists always had someone of power and wealth behind them. They never had anything to worry about. For me, I do not want supernatural things to happen to me but if you wanted to be intrigued by another world, you can’t! unless you’re wealthy or knew someone wealthy that could just make things happen for you….

that’s another reason i dont’ like this characters, they always have a way of getting out of things…

hmm

but this book caught my interest because it’s about a guy that writes and a novel that gains acclaim…

i read anything and everything about the act of writing these days…that’s how i was able to finish this bloated novel…very bloated, i feel like this novel could be written in 600 pages rather than 900

there was a huge amount of repetition especially near the end…
actual recount of things that had already happened from another character’s point of view….

sigh

but anyways

i would give it…

a B- for grade… i liked it more than Wind Up Bird Chronicle, less intriguing than Kafka on the Shore…

Posted: November 20th, 2011
Categories: 52 weeks, BOOKS
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22: The Wind up Bird Chronicle

600 pages!!!!

which isn’t a big deal when you are reading something that murakami writes because it’s fluid, easy to read writing. i didn’t really enjoy this one as much and i felt tired at the end, as in i was flipping through the pages to see just how many more to go. i guess i was curious at the ending and how everything would sum up especially sooooooo many crazy things have happened along the way. i felt like the ending was kind of….quiet, compared to the story itself.
i liked the beginning, i was kind of hoping for something lighthearted surrealistic, suburban dream story. but no! the guy getting skinned alive? I was so scared that they’d go back to that, well they did but at least not in detail.

i dont know what to say to be honest.

i kind of like what they did with the rooms / the alternate universe.

it’s really weird because this morning i had four dreams in a row that were linked together.

i dream a lot and it’s very exhausting, even more so because im able to remember most of the details.

so i had one dream, and it was located at a house at the end of a alley. i had friends with me though i’ve never met them before in my life. soon enough i woke up from the dream, it was pretty late in the day already but i felt so tired so i kept on sleeping. i thought i would be returned to the dream but instead i was sent somewhere where the continuation of the previous story but at a different location. then i woke up again, then i went back to sleep. then i was at my own house and i was talking to someone about the first dream, and what it meant. and i looked out of my windows (well now i realized it’s my old house) and i thought how strange all the neighboring houses changed. so i went back to the person that i was talking to and i told her that i was dreaming, that what i had just told her was a dream.

then i pulled myself awake. i literally, made myself wake up.

then i was like, oh..i see….

well that was what happened this morning.

im very tired everyday because of scenes like this.

reading the book kind of made me feel like that.

like i was in many layers of dreams and nearing the end, it was exhausting, and i couldn’t even get out.

but i got out, and the book ended as well.

i had another dream the other day where i got to eat pizza with jesse eisenberg.

i often find advertising in my dreams, do you?

im gonna go see 30 minutes or less later with my family (wow, how middle class are we) and it’s jesse eisenberg and he’s a pizza delivery boy!

there was another time that i dreamed that i was on vacation and we had arrived at a hotel. then i found an ipad inside the drawers. and in the dream i said, i can’t believe there is advertising in my dreams (it was when the ipad just came out)

…strange…..

i had some quotes saved from this book but now im way too exhausted to type them out.

maybe another day if i felt like it.

Posted: August 19th, 2011
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Master of Conversation

One of the things that I noticed in Murakami’s work is how talkative everyone is in his novels, not everyone, but in any given conversation there would obviously be one character that likes to talk, a lot, and they did a lot of talking.

I’ve never realized this, but it’s a lot of work to write conversation.

how to make it natural, how to make it flow…how to make it believable, how to make people think that at this given situation, however crazy the situation is, these people are talking and these words are coming out of their mouth in the most elegant sense, there is no script for them to read, and as a reader, you’re forced to believe it, and without being forced, you believe it anyway…

im just curious …

maybe i’ve never noticed it, maybe everyone talks a lot but i NEVER realized it because they aren’t actually talking

im making no sense now

Posted: April 29th, 2011
Categories: BOOKS
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