I feel like I should qualify my rating for "After Dark."
I didn't give it 5 stars because I thought it was one of his best, or that it stacked up to "D...moreI feel like I should qualify my rating for "After Dark."
I didn't give it 5 stars because I thought it was one of his best, or that it stacked up to "Dance Dance Dance," being the first of Murakami's that I read and therefore receiving the gratifying exuberance of a first come first served rating.
I gave it five stars because I thought it did exactly what it needed to do in a way that was beautiful, stirring, and ultimately human.
Of course I would like answers to why the Chinese prostitute got beat up, what's really going on with the sister, and so on. But I don't need them.
What I found in "After Dark" is a story about a world that only exists between the hours of midnight and sun rise. The story lines, though on the whole meaningless, mostly unrelated, and not exactly the things that make great or even maybe interesting literature, are so very REAL. This could happen. In fact this probably happens a lot more than we realize. It carries a certain magical quality in its mundanity, a beguiling humanity that lingers like reflections in a mirror after the person has left the room.(less)
pg. 73: "She had never loved him, I thought, and as Father had not been rooted in any woman's heart, he could not merge with any reality and was there...morepg. 73: "She had never loved him, I thought, and as Father had not been rooted in any woman's heart, he could not merge with any reality and was therefore condemned to float eternally on the periphery of life, in half-real regions, on the margins of existence."
pg. 118: "As a matter of fact, there are many books. The Book is a myth in which we believe when we are young, but which we cease to take seriously as we get older."
pg. 203: "I cannot answer for my dreams."
pg. 207: "No one has ever charted the topography of a July night. It remains unrecorded in the geography of one's inner cosmos."
pg. 290: "I feel: this is life. Everyone is stuck within himself, within the day to which he wakes up, the hour which belongs to him, or the moment. . . . Time deceived by silence flows backward for a while, retreats, and in these uncounted moments night returns and swells the undulating fur of a cat."
pg. 319: "The spirit of nature was by its very essence a great storyteller. Out of its core the honeyed discourse of fables and novels, romances and epics, flowed in an irresistible stream. The whole atmosphere was absolutely stuffed full of stories. You only needed to lay a trap under this sky full of ghosts to catch one, set a wooden post upright in the wind for strips of narrative to be caught fluttering on its tip."
I'm not the sort of person who dog-ears books (I have been known to pen-mark the text, but dog-ear'ing was never my thing), but I couldn't help but put a few on the corners as I read this, where moments in the prose struck me as especially poignant (found all but one too!). I first read "Cinnamon Shops" back in my sophomore year of college, hurriedly, rather drinking in the text, hoping I could get to the end before they opened house, and then saw a very bizarre movement-heavy play based on Schulz's work. Fortunately, the story stuck with me better than the play (of which I only remember really weird scattered moments and was called something like "Republic of Dreams under the Sign of the Crocodile" or some such amalgamation), and the dreaminess of the text read in haste in the lobby of a rustic barn on a cold winter's night will always stick with me. Even more so than the old man in the white tutu shouting something unintelligible while standing on a wardrobe that was being pushed downstage.
It would be interesting to read this in the original Polish, because the translator did a really fabulous job at keeping the language beautiful, and I wonder what it would "sound" like in the original.(less)
I want to say something on this but I don't know what. Other than I wish I had read it years ago when I was writing my thesis (post-apocalyptic and al...moreI want to say something on this but I don't know what. Other than I wish I had read it years ago when I was writing my thesis (post-apocalyptic and all). Fantastic. I may need to think about a bit before writing anything.(less)
I somehow managed to get all through high school and college without ever reading 1984 (everyone read it Sophomore year, except my class, and the only...moreI somehow managed to get all through high school and college without ever reading 1984 (everyone read it Sophomore year, except my class, and the only reason I read Animal Farm in high school was that it got snuck into Senior year AP English II, between Hamlet and Waiting for Godot). But I've been on a dystopian kick lately, and since I'd never read it I desperately wanted to, so I ransacked my boxes of books for my copy (including pencil drawing of a pig with the hammer and sickle on its stomach, courtesy of my high school best friend), found it, and put it into the "more permanent library than previously compiled."
The copy I found at the Strand is not actually the full Manuscript--it's current to the 1950s/1960s when only a few portions had been found, instead o...moreThe copy I found at the Strand is not actually the full Manuscript--it's current to the 1950s/1960s when only a few portions had been found, instead of the full 60-some days in the life of Alphonse van Worden (in fact, the title's a prime example of a mistranslation that you find a lot in older translations, much like the difference in translations of The Stranger). My guess is that this was the edition used in the making of the movie, being contemporary, and that the rest of the tale was found afterward. That being said, I found myself comparing the plot to the movie, trying to see what was similar and what I misremembered, having only seen slightly over half of the movie and that was 3 years ago by now. Can't wait to read the rest of Alphonse's journeys!
Kinda skimmed through the Avadoro, as I was on the bus between NYC and Boston, didn't really know what was going on in the stories or what exactly they related to, where they fit in the Manuscript, and the guy behind me didn't have his headphones in so I had to wear mine in order not to listen to his music. Whatever.(less)
I bounced between giving this 4 and 5 stars, mostly because I still think Dance, Dance, Dance is probably the best Murakami I've read so far, which is...moreI bounced between giving this 4 and 5 stars, mostly because I still think Dance, Dance, Dance is probably the best Murakami I've read so far, which is funny considering this comes before. Anyway.
That first chapter, about the girl he'd once known who died, so beautiful. Probably one of the best chapters I've ever read. Wow. Following this a slide from ultraordinary to the fantastical/mystical. Really nice twist at the ending, and dealt with so craftily.
I'd noticed, in Dance, Dance, Dance, that the main character goes nameless, but in this one everyone save J, the Sheep Professor, the Sheep Man, and the Rat aren't given names, either (though, those aren't really names, either). I can't remember if the narrator of Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World had a name or not, but I did remember that the main character from The Windup Bird Chronicle is named Toru Okada, and the main character from another of Murakami's novels is also named Toru, which seemed to be a rather ordinary, nothing-sort-of name, the Japanese version of John Smith it seemed. Another point to discuss in my imaginary thesis on Murakami, along with the presence or lack thereof of a cat and the disappeared woman, about the identity-lessness of the main character, the ordinary everyman.(less)
I was so desperately in love with Shadow by the time I finished this. And I loved the idea of old-world Gods living through the religions that the imm...moreI was so desperately in love with Shadow by the time I finished this. And I loved the idea of old-world Gods living through the religions that the immigrants brought with them to America, and the fight between the new "gods" of Television etc.
I was also really hoping Shadow would appear in Anansi Boys. Not that I've actually managed to read that yet, of course.(less)
I found the beginning and the end to be very intriguing and a lot of fun to read, but the middle where Mr. Wind-up Bird does nothing, and then meeting...moreI found the beginning and the end to be very intriguing and a lot of fun to read, but the middle where Mr. Wind-up Bird does nothing, and then meeting Cinnamon and Nutmeg, sorta lost me. Though the last sentence was absolutely stunning.
Could totally have read this in a week, instead of 3 months. Stupid work, always getting in the way.(less)
I really wanted to like this, but I just couldn't do it. The concept sounded fascinating--people turning into jackdaws, a hidden mythological undergro...moreI really wanted to like this, but I just couldn't do it. The concept sounded fascinating--people turning into jackdaws, a hidden mythological underground, Russian folklore--but it was such a pain to read. Galina was obnoxious, and there wasn't enough to the other characters to give them anything. And she can't write dialogue. This was probably some of the worst dialogue I've read in a while. The prose and the descriptions of what people felt was okay, but the dialogue and even action sequences were awful. The stories, actually, were probably about the only good part. I liked Sovin's the best.
The other problem was it moved too slow and too fast at the same time. You spend the first 2/3 of the book learning the stories of the characters and the people underground, while supposedly they're on a quest to find out why people have been turning into birds, and then finally the last 1/3 dashes through that without any real explanation of WHY. Okay, so it's the thugs, and it's Likho and Zlyden, but Sedia never gives a good reason WHY they're doing this. What do the thugs have to gain? What do the demons have to gain? What's the point? And I don't really see how this all is reflective of Moscow and the period of glasnost. Was this supposed to be a parable? And if so, how and where?
**spoiler alert** I would never have thought that 150 pages of someone giving up could be both beautiful and gripping. You know the protagonist isn't...more**spoiler alert** I would never have thought that 150 pages of someone giving up could be both beautiful and gripping. You know the protagonist isn't going to fight his fate, and you know there's nothing he can do anyway, but still there's the POTENTIAL that something could happen to save him, mostly because there's still a chance in the End of the World scenario.
One does have to wonder what would have happened if he had jumped into the pool with his shadow. Would he be saved? Or would he be deposited somewhere even stranger?(less)