Patrick McCoy's Reviews > Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami
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Sep 28, 2011

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bookshelves: contemporary-fiction, short-stories

Haruki Murakmai's new collection of short stories, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, came out immediately in paperback from the British publishing house Harvill Secker (as far as I can tell, it hasn't been released in hardback in America yet, according to The book collects various short stories that haven't appeared in English before. There are some older stories mixed in with new compositions. For example, "Firefly" was a story that eventually found its way into his breakthrough novel, Norwegian Wood. "Man Eating Cats" was a story that also found itself in a novel, Sputnik Sweetheart. In the introduction Murakami mentions that "The Mirror", "A Perfect Day For Kangaroos", "Dabachick", "The Year of Spaghetti", "The Rise And Fall of the Sharpie Cakes" and "The 1963/1982 Girl From Ipanema" were all written from 1981 to 1982. Interestingly, Jay Rubin referred to several of these stories in his book about Murakami and his writing, Haruki Murakami And The Music of Words, so it was interesting to finally get a chance to read them. However, "Dabachick" appeared in Mc Sweeney's literary magazine. Several of the stories appeared in the New Yorker as well including my three favorite: "A Chance Traveler"-in which Murakami uses a meta-narrative introducing himself into a story in order to tell a story of coincidences, "Hanalei Bay"-which has one of his strongest female characters, and "The Kidney Shaped Stone That Moves Everyday"-which has interesting insights into relationships and personal fulfillment and additionally contains a story within a story. I guess one of the weaknesses of the stories is that many of the themes are repeated-loss of identity, disappearances, or an inexplicable event. However, I think most of the newer stories, of which, most were written in 2005, show promise and explorations of new structures and themes.

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