Haruki Murakami

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darwinwins
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Re: Haruki Murakami

jayhsu wrote:Has anyone actually liked Norwegian Wood? (Aside from like the last paragraph, which was amazing).

Also great japanese author: Banana Yoshimoto. You know she has to eb great, because her name is Banana! (She said it was androgynous, I believe...)

She's like a female Murakami, her books are really cute (and weird as hell sometimes).

Norwegian Wood is one of my favorite novels. Sure it hits pretty close to home but that's only half of it. It's a twisted little love story that spans years and really gets into the mind of the protagonist. the setting is pitch perfect for how the characters feel and act as though that era was the only time feasible for characters like that to exist.
"if you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. that's the world of hicks and slobs. " - haruki murakami

yukari koizumi
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Re: Haruki Murakami

jayhsu wrote:Has anyone actually liked Norwegian Wood? (Aside from like the last paragraph, which was amazing).

Also great japanese author: Banana Yoshimoto. You know she has to eb great, because her name is Banana! (She said it was androgynous, I believe...)

She's like a female Murakami, her books are really cute (and weird as hell sometimes).

Norwegian Wood is one of his best novels I have read so far.... of course Kafka is my top favourite at the moment but I would put Norwegian Wood as my second favourite....

The psychological place his woman has to go to... it remins me of sylvia plath and the Bel Jar a bit.....

I am actually going to be reading After Dark soon... its my latest Murakami I have bought.

leslieseviltwin
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Re: Haruki Murakami

At one point someone sent me a link to a story called "Tony Takitani," which was interesting.

After looking at this thread I now want to read more stories by him.

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Re: Haruki Murakami

I am about halfway through 'Wind up Bird', and I have fallen in love with him. It's one of the best books I have read in a long time, if not ever.
Spoiler:
The 'skinning' scene might just be the most harrowing thing I have ever read.

I went out yesterday and bought 'After Dark' and 'Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman' on impulse.

From what I have read, the Japanese literary establishment doesn't think much of him. I wonder why this is? He seems to embody many of the same themes as Kafka, who is universally revered. Maybe literary types just denigrate anything that is easy to read, regardless of content.

musashi1600
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Re: Haruki Murakami

I've only read The Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle so far, but I think this is an author I can like. I enjoyed Wonderland, but Wind-up Bird less so.

tetromino wrote:IMHO, Haibane Renmei handled the mysterious-city-surrounded-by-impassable-wall theme much better. Not bothering to explain how such a world works made for a more believable story.

CHeMnISTe BOY wrote:I agree, I think I prefer his books where the surreal elements aren't spelled out so clearly and I didn't really see the point in the underground fishmen. I also thought that even though the fantasy 'End Of The World' storyline was good (and it reminded me of Haibane Renmei too) I was more interested in the more typically-Murakami 'Hardboiled Wonderland' storyline, so whenever a fantasy chapter came along I didn't enjoy it as much as I would normally because I just wanted to get back to the main sci-fi story. I thought that brought down the whole book.

Funny thing about people mentioning Haibane Renmei in connection with Wonderland: Yoshitoshi ABe, the guy who created the story for Haibane Renmei (that is, the original doujinshi and the script for the anime series) has cited Murakami's novel as a source of inspiration for HR. Heck, that's why I started reading Murakami to begin with.
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Re: Haruki Murakami

I finished 'Wind up Bird" today. I can't even really work out how I feel about it, I've never read anything so strange and lovely.

Does anyone know of a site with any serious criticism / analysis or his work (especially "Wind up Bird")? I'm itching to read what other, more well read people thought of it.

Alternatively, we could discuss it here. I'll spoiler for courtesy...

Spoiler:
What is the connection between the war and his relationship with Kumiko? He says that the war is the centre of a circle with the book's events around it, but I'm having trouble finding anything solid.

Who was the woman making the obscene calls at the start?

I guess my ultimate question would be as to the meaning of it all. Is there some kind of unifying meaning that I'm missing, or is it supposed to be all tantalisingly perplexing? Most of the novel's concepts are like shapes in the mist which I can't quite resolve, and I can't tell if this is a failing on my part or the author's intention. I'd almost be happier if there was no set meaning, I think. In a way the book makes concrete meanings look a bit silly and superfluous.

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Re: Haruki Murakami

musashi1600 wrote:Funny thing about people mentioning Haibane Renmei in connection with Wonderland: Yoshitoshi ABe, the guy who created the story for Haibane Renmei (that is, the original doujinshi and the script for the anime series) has cited Murakami's novel as a source of inspiration for HR. Heck, that's why I started reading Murakami to begin with.

Heh... a while back a friend of mine loaned me a copy of Hard-Boiled Wonderland not long after I'd loaned her my Haibane DVDs, but at the time either of us knew of any connection between the two. When I started reading it and got the first bits describing the walled town, I was like, "...wait, what?" (I absolutely LOVE HR, so it took zero time for the similarities to become apparent to me.)
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Pseudoku
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Re: Haruki Murakami

Heh, I'm actually a little bit obsessed with the guy. I've read just about every book of his I can get my hands on, and as amazing as many of them are (Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a classic), my favorite has always been Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. A lot of his work focuses on the importance of memory and communication, but also gets kind of obscured by his tendency to write fever dreams, but I always thought that Hard Boiled had a perfect balance of themes.

Also, I don't really know anyone who disliked Norweigan Wood, it's just a very different novel from the rest of his work. That's probably why it's had so much more mainstream success. Still a great read, though.

yukari koizumi
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Re: Haruki Murakami

This is the first I have ever heard that Haibane Renmei was inspired by Hardboiled, and I googled and they also say Wind up too...

having already read both those books and already watched Haibane... reflecting on that ... i really can see his inspiration now.

its nice to learn something new like this...

The book that I have liked the least so far of Murakami's works would have to be After Dark. I didn't fully dislike it... I just felt left wanting more, and still tripping on the sleeping sister.

musashi1600
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Re: Haruki Murakami

I recently finished one of his short story collections, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman. I like how his stories tend to be surreal, but they sometimes went too far and sailed clean over my head. (I've recently learned he was inspired to write "Tony Takitani" after buying a T-shirt with that name on it on a trip to Maui. The real Tony Takitani was a politician in the Hawaii State House of Representatives from 1978 to 1982.) I did get a kick out of "Hanalei Bay," which has a scene where he dispels a bunch of misconceptions about Hawaii (one of which is that we're all fluent Japanese speakers.)

yukari koizumi wrote:This is the first I have ever heard that Haibane Renmei was inspired by Hardboiled, and I googled and they also say Wind up too...

having already read both those books and already watched Haibane... reflecting on that ... i really can see his inspiration now.

its nice to learn something new like this...

ABe reportedly mentioned at AnimeFest in 2006 that any parallels to Wind-Up Bird Chronicle are coincidental; he'd based the well scenes in HR off a well near the home where he grew up, and didn't realize the similarities until after the fact.
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Re: Haruki Murakami

CHeMnISTe BOY wrote:For fans of Japanese Lit., has anyone read anything by Kenzaburo Oe? I've been meaning to check out his stuff for a while but haven't been able to find any.

I've read Somersault by Kenzaburo Oe. It was certainly an interesting read, but I must say it didn't quite live up to expectations since several of my favorite authors have attributed inspiration to Oe.

I've read almost all (translated) novels by Murakami, and a couple of the short story collections as well. I have to say Norwegian Wood is my favorite, but Kafka and Hard-Boiled Wonderland are close behind. For some reason, Wind-Up Bird and A Wild Sheep Chase (which started the addiction) just didn't quite grab me as much.
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darwinwins
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Re: Haruki Murakami

Pseudoku wrote:Heh, I'm actually a little bit obsessed with the guy. I've read just about every book of his I can get my hands on, and as amazing as many of them are (Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a classic), my favorite has always been Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. A lot of his work focuses on the importance of memory and communication, but also gets kind of obscured by his tendency to write fever dreams, but I always thought that Hard Boiled had a perfect balance of themes.

Also, I don't really know anyone who disliked Norweigan Wood, it's just a very different novel from the rest of his work. That's probably why it's had so much more mainstream success. Still a great read, though.

hardboiled wonderland is just such a different take on perception of reality from what we find in western lit that it has to stick out above all the rest. you're really rooting for the librarian and never really sure if the events are happening in real time or in the blink of an eye.
"if you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. that's the world of hicks and slobs. " - haruki murakami

psychosomaticism
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Re: Haruki Murakami

I've read the style to describe Murakami is "Magical Realism," which I really like. All of his stories have something to do with real life, characters who are usually boring or everyman sort of people, but the stories they get dragged into make things both interesting and relatable.

I also came across the interpretation that Murakami has a really typical Japanese style of story, in that it always deals with both modern loneliness (being alone in a crowd of people), and a loss of security, which (and I'm paraphrasing here) is a major topic in Japanese lit (which I've also heard complained about because Westerners, especially the more relaxed ones, can't relate to the loss of control element).

sonmi451
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Re: Haruki Murakami

I like Murakami, but I prefer his short stories to his novels. I usually end up growing tired of his novels somewhere in the middle. Actually, more than one of his stories has a character who prefers writing short stories to novels because he finds it difficult to maintain the story's momentum for the entire length of a novel.

Most of the stories I read were scattered throughout issues of The New Yorker, but he also has two collections: The Elephant Vanishes and After the Quake. I saw a stage play adaptation of After the Quake, which was interesting. There was also a movie based on it, although I'm not sure where it was released:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0847214/

Zohar
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Re: Haruki Murakami

And to be on topic - I only read Kafka by the Shore by him. It was interesting throughout, I felt the ending was a bit abrupt. I've since decided to stop reading him. I lost a lot of respect for him when I found out that he agreed to receive about the highest literary award available from the Israeli government and a month later condemned Israel for acts done in Gaza. Regardless of his opinion or what happened in Gaza, I felt it was incredibly hypocritical of him, which is why I don't want to read (and thus support) him. It has nothing to do with his stance against Israel - I wouldn't have had problems with him if he decided to decline the award and publish his opinions or accept the reward and not publish his opinions. Doing both is a dickish thing to do.
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6453893
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Re: Haruki Murakami

Apparently Murakami's new book (which he appropriately referred to as his "new big novel") is the longest one he's ever written. God I'm so excited. I've been reading random short stories from Elephant to tide myself over since my last big murakami fix. I hope this new work is worthy of being the third in his trio of large works, along with Kafka and Wind-Up.

keikeiaznqueen
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Re: Haruki Murakami

Norweigian Wood is actually one of my favourite books of all time. I normally find it difficult to read a novel in its entirety without skipping or skimming through anything at all, but with this novel I actually managed.

I need to go and pick up a few more Murakami novels soon!

Banana Yoshimoto is my other favourite. Murakami and Yoshimoto are often compared, and there's definitely a similarity in the tone of their novels that I think, could be cultural.

tzar1990
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Re: Haruki Murakami

Zohar wrote:I only read Kafka by the Shore by him. It was interesting throughout, I felt the ending was a bit abrupt. I've since decided to stop reading him. I lost a lot of respect for him when I found out that he agreed to receive about the highest literary award available from the Israeli government and a month later condemned Israel for acts done in Gaza. Regardless of his opinion or what happened in Gaza, I felt it was incredibly hypocritical of him, which is why I don't want to read (and thus support) him. It has nothing to do with his stance against Israel - I wouldn't have had problems with him if he decided to decline the award and publish his opinions or accept the reward and not publish his opinions. Doing both is a dickish thing to do.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that he actually spoke out against Israels actions in Gaza at the awards ceremony, saying things like "If an egg hurls itself against a wall, no matter how right the wall or how wrong the egg, I am on the egg's side." In my point of view, that's not so much being a hypocrite as seeing a chance to speak to the people of Israel and taking it. After all I doubt they would have let him on if they knew he would use the ceremony as a soapbox and then deny their awards.

Of course, if I'm wrong about any of the above, which I may well be, my point is null and void.
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Zohar
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Re: Haruki Murakami

tzar1990 wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that he actually spoke out against Israels actions in Gaza at the awards ceremony, saying things like "If an egg hurls itself against a wall, no matter how right the wall or how wrong the egg, I am on the egg's side." In my point of view, that's not so much being a hypocrite as seeing a chance to speak to the people of Israel and taking it. After all I doubt they would have let him on if they knew he would use the ceremony as a soapbox and then deny their awards.

Of course, if I'm wrong about any of the above, which I may well be, my point is null and void.

His speech at the award ceremony wasn't as extreme as the opinions he stated a month after it. And firstly, going to a ceremony and saying "I would like to thank Israel for this award, you really really suck" is still being a hypocrite. And secondly, Israel is a free country with freedom of the press. If he wanted he could have published his essays and I'm positive someone would have written about it in Israeli media. It was a very lame move, in my opinion.
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keikeiaznqueen
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Re: Haruki Murakami

I don't see why accepting an award and an author's opinion of the actions of who the award is from have to be linked. The award is an award and why not accept it and still have an opinion on what other countries do? As for how he chooses to convey his message (or in fact, to convey his message at all) is completely up to him. He was given the opportunity to speak at the ceremony and he did. Excuse this bad analogy. I may not like my school, but I can still accept an award given to me from it. That just means I'm accepting an award and I don't like my school. It doesn't particularly make me a hypocrite and I don't have to show my dislike by declining the award. After all, I can still like the award while not liking my school on the whole.

In my view, the honour of being awarded and the opinion on the irrelevant political actions of a country should be two different things. It won't change the books that the author has written and that they're appreciated enough to receive awards. I won't constantly think about how terrible it was for the author to attend a ceremony in a country whose actions he didn't approve of.

Even if Murakami could have thought of a better way to express his opinion than on the night of the ceremony, that was his choice as a person, and how he writes as an author or what he has written won't change because of that. Even if he starts publishing essays about his political opinion, he can do that. It's no big deal really.

Zohar
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Re: Haruki Murakami

You're entitled to your own opinion, obviously. But keep in mind a couple of things:
1. This was an official award from the government of Israel, given to him by the president. It wasn't some independent thing, this is precisely the political body he was talking against.
2. The school analogy isn't very good. A better analogy (regardless of which side is which and who's right or wrong) is getting an award from the NRA, for example, and then saying "Guns are evil."

I'm not sure how much clearer I can make my point, though. It just seems wrong. Once more, you're entitled to disagree. I'm certain many other people would also say "yeah, he can state his opinion whenever he wants and regardless of other things he does in life", which of course is true, but there's a way to not seem so dickish about it.
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6453893
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Re: Haruki Murakami

Zohar wrote:I'm not sure how much clearer I can make my point, though. It just seems wrong. Once more, you're entitled to disagree. I'm certain many other people would also say "yeah, he can state his opinion whenever he wants and regardless of other things he does in life", which of course is true, but there's a way to not seem so dickish about it.

I don't see how any further clarification could make me understand your position. Just because you disagree with his political views seems like a ridiculous reason to deprive yourself of good literature. James Joyce was a drunk, so throw all his books away. Hemingway had racial biases; you wouldn't want to support him by reading any of his masterpieces! George Orwell loved to tell white lies, so let's ban 1984! If you are going to start judging authors by their personal prejudices instead of the merits of their work, you are going to very quickly run out of reading material. Maybe Murakami could have handled the situation better, but refusing to read him on those grounds is just stupid.

Zohar
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Re: Haruki Murakami

Huh, I didn't notice the reply in this thread. How lovely to be called "stupid" right as I get to work. If you insist on a reply, I'll go with the lamest, silliest argument I can think of - all the authors you mentioned are already dead. Murakami, on the other hand, still gains money if I buy his book.

In other, unrelated matters - my Japanese teacher said she read the original article about Murakami in Japanese and his words were (according to her) completely taken out of context. So much so, in fact, that the Israel-Japan Friendship Association is trying to get that newspaper to post a public apology about it, and a different major newspaper in Israel is preparing a story about it. So it seems I may have been mistaken. So I might start reading him again, but it doesn't change the fact that my position was right, IMO.
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Kizyr
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Re: Haruki Murakami

Zohar wrote:In other, unrelated matters - my Japanese teacher said she read the original article about Murakami in Japanese and his words were (according to her) completely taken out of context. So much so, in fact, that the Israel-Japan Friendship Association is trying to get that newspaper to post a public apology about it, and a different major newspaper in Israel is preparing a story about it. So it seems I may have been mistaken. So I might start reading him again, but it doesn't change the fact that my position was right, IMO.

I'm unclear on any of these events (well, my only information has been the debate here). But this at least has me interested. You wouldn't happen to know where or how to find the article in question? (What he said, about when it occurred, etc.) KF
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Zohar
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Re: Haruki Murakami

I have Japanese class tomorrow, I'll ask my teacher if she can give me some Japanese resources (you can read Japanese, right?). Once the big article in the Hebrew newspaper comes out, I might summarize it here. If I remember.
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6453893
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Re: Haruki Murakami

It still seems you (were) just causing more detriment to yourself than to Murakami. For his great works (Bird Chronicle, Kafka &c), I'm sure you'd derive more pleasure from the novel than Murakami would from the 10% of purchase price you pay him. And if you were really serious about not supporting him, you'd borrow the books off other people or download them off the web, so that you could have your cake and eat it (Or, more accurately, eat the cake and keep the cake that Murakami should have eaten).

Zohar
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Re: Haruki Murakami

I disagree. First, the act of "not buying" is exactly the power I have as a consumer. I don't eat meat because I don't think we should kill animals. I'm not deluding myself that I really save the cows. But if a lot of people do some small changes, it can help. Do you think by recycling your own paper you save the ozone layer? I doubt that. But the power of a collective of people is much stronger than the power of one. As for "eating the cake and keeping it whole", I didn't enjoy Kafka on the Shore (his only book I read) so much to consider it a great loss. And besides, at this point it's a matter of principle and habit. I've been vegetarian for 14 years. There's nothing in my ethics that instructs me not to eat roadkill or something someone will throw away. I still won't eat them because I'm a vegetarian and that's it. I said in my post above - I think my stance was correct (with the info I had at the time). I may change the way I think once I find out more on the subject, but that's it.
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Kizyr
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Re: Haruki Murakami

Zohar wrote:I have Japanese class tomorrow, I'll ask my teacher if she can give me some Japanese resources (you can read Japanese, right?). Once the big article in the Hebrew newspaper comes out, I might summarize it here. If I remember.

Yeah, I can read Japanese. Newspaper articles are rather tough, but if it's a direct quote from what Murakami said, then I'd be able to at least understand that with little problem.

On another note, I might be able to finally get around to reading that Murakami book sitting on my shelf for the last couple of years in a month or so. (If I'm reading something in Japanese, I only stick to one book at a time. So I haven't gotten around to that in years, while working through another series.) KF
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yukari koizumi
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Re: Haruki Murakami

http://www.nowpublic.com/culture/1q84-h ... it-arrives

any of you guys hear about norwegian being made into a movie?

also I am reading The Elephant Vanishes; I like it so far, but some of the shorts are not typically good but almost all of them are cept maybe like 2.

6453893
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Re: Haruki Murakami

Norwegian is the only adaptable one by a long shot. I suppose you could try to adapt Hard Boiled Wonderland too, if you were insane.

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Re: Haruki Murakami

Weeelllll... Back to favourites mine was (short story) "On seeing the 100% perfect girl".
It just makes me Daaaaawwww, and then sadface.jpg towards the end. But I keep reading it... oO
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voidPtr
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Re: Haruki Murakami

unpure.intervention wrote:Weeelllll... Back to favourites mine was (short story) "On seeing the 100% perfect girl".
It just makes me Daaaaawwww, and then sadface.jpg towards the end. But I keep reading it... oO

Beat me to it.

Murakami's descriptive writing seduces me, however I get lost in his longer length works; they're too cryptic and disconnected for my taste. I thought the first chapter of the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was an excellent standalone story, but after reading the whole novel I felt cheated, like it was a practical joke he was playing on us by sucking us into keep reading through 700 pages, that to me at least, didn't seem to go anywhere.

However, I love his short stories. The Elephant Vanishes is my favourite story collection from him followed by After the Quake (especially the last couple of stories).

Kizyr
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Re: Haruki Murakami

I finally finished my first Murakami book, 「神の子どもたちはみな踊る」 (English title was After the Quake).

It was quite good. On account of the connection to the earthquake, it felt a bit more grounded than some of the other more surreal short stories I've read from him. "UFO in Kushiro" and "Honey Pie" I think were my favorites from there. I didn't quite get what was going on with "All God's Children Dance" though.

I also picked up several of Murakami's books while on vacation, including 1Q84, Kafka on the Shore, After Dark, and The Elephant Vanishes. Not sure which one I should move on to next, though. KF

EDIT: How did they translate Landscape with Flatiron into English, by the way? One of the main characters has a thick Kansai accent, which is a significant part of the story. KF
~Kizyr

6453893
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Re: Haruki Murakami

Read 1Q84 and tell us all about it. I know it will take years to be translated and published in English but I can't wait to read it.

Kizyr
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Re: Haruki Murakami

6453893 wrote:Read 1Q84 and tell us all about it. I know it will take years to be translated and published in English but I can't wait to read it.

Probably just as well... I'm reading Okuribito right now (which shouldn't take long; it's a quick read), and after that I'd like to read After Dark and maybe Kafka on the Shore, before going to 1Q84. Might take me a year to get to it anyhow. KF
~Kizyr

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Re: Haruki Murakami

I discovered Murakami about a year ago when I was given Norwegian Wood by a friend. I loved it and had a Murakami binge, reading most of his (English translated) books in a couple of months. My favourites would have to be Wind-up Bird because of the wonderful way he threads the story together, and Hard Boiled Wonderland for it's sheer inventiveness.
However after reading so many of his books so quickly I found myself a little bored towards the end, for instance I didn't get much out of Sputnick Sweetheart which was the last one I read. While the writing was still beautiful, when it came to the narrator I felt I'd heard it all before. Has anyone else experienced this? Do you think it's because the central characters of his novels are too similar to one another or is it just a result of my reading them back to back with no other books thrown in for variety? I'd love to hear some opinions.

OmenPigeon
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Re: Haruki Murakami

NO1PCKTHS wrote:
CHeMnISTe BOY wrote:For fans of Japanese Lit., has anyone read anything by Kenzaburo Oe? I've been meaning to check out his stuff for a while but haven't been able to find any.

I've read Somersault by Kenzaburo Oe. It was certainly an interesting read, but I must say it didn't quite live up to expectations since several of my favorite authors have attributed inspiration to Oe.

I read "Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids" a while back and thought it was really, really good. Then I picked up a pair of his novellas whose name I can't find on Wikipedia. They used sex as a metaphor for politics in some ways that I didn't really grok, mostly because my postwar Japanese history isn't really up to snuff. They weren't as good as Nip the Buds, but it was really easy to see how Murakami could have grown from Oe's work. I've been too busy with other stuff since to go back to him, but I've been meaning to pick up some of his later stuff for a while now.
As long as I am alive and well I will continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take pleasure in scraps of useless information.
~ George Orwell

Mavas
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Re: Haruki Murakami

Someone bought me a book of his, Underground, and apparently it's nonfiction... Of course I get the ONE book of his that doesn't make critics simultaneously orgasm all over themselves...
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Kizyr
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Re: Haruki Murakami

Mavas wrote:Someone bought me a book of his, Underground, and apparently it's nonfiction... Of course I get the ONE book of his that doesn't make critics simultaneously orgasm all over themselves...

Isn't Underground about the Tokyo sarin gas attacks? That should still be quite good. Although since it's nonfiction, you won't get his quirky or surreal style anywhere. KF
~Kizyr

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Re: Haruki Murakami

I've just finished reading Norwegian Wood for the first time and have to agree with those who said they were underwhelmed by it. Murakami does an excellent job of setting tone and colour within the scenes, but I kept waiting for something to happen & nothing satisfactory ever really came. The dialog was terrible, though, something I'm willing to give the author the benefit of the doubt on and put down to bad translating.

Also, did anyone else find Midori really annoying? She started off ok but as the book went on I just wanted to give her a slap.

Lastly,
Spoiler:
I thought Naoko's death was very predictable from the start of the book, so wasn't much of a surprise when it came, I guess that was one of the reason I was wanting something else to happen. What did the last paragraph mean to you, though? I've read online some people took it to mean Toru had also committed suicide, and was in fact dead, but this would contradict the opening of the book where he is a middle aged man looking back.
In girum imus nocte, et consumimur igni