Appreciating Haruki Murakami
I am now on my fourth Haruki Murakami book (A Wild Sheep Chase), and it is just as hypnotically alluring as the others. Mundane things happen, and Murakami can spend several passages describing doing nothing very much except housework, while the cat (always a cat, often called Kipper) stretches beside him. Even so, every word fascinates. I'm not sure why. I think maybe it is because his choice of word is both accurate and slightly off-beat. The translation, by Alfred Birnbaum, must be incredibly skilful too, and the narration; for me Murakami and Rupert Degas are melded firmly together in my mind. In fact Degas impresses me so much I intend to find other books he has narrated, once I have finished Murakami's entire ouvre.
I am noticing themes now in Murakami's work: the legacy of the second world war and the occupation of China looms large; often the lady vanishes without explanation, and twice so far a business card is offered with very little on it. Life generally goes on at a languid pace. People talk directly and slightly weirdly and profess to having offbeat powers and skills. It is all kind of deadpan. Just now, in 'A Wild Sheep Chase', a woman has talked of killing off her perfect ears, and somehow, because I am in Murakami's land, I know exactly what she means. I also understand how she can then choose to turn them back on again, and in doing so transform herself into something so beautiful the whole world stops.
I have also almost finished my first book of Rudyard Kipling stories, and these are splendid too, but in an entirely different way.