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Almost Transparent Blue

3.26  ·  Rating details ·  9,468 ratings  ·  649 reviews
Almost Transparent Blue is a brutal tale of lost youth in a Japanese port town close to an American military base. Murakami's image-intensive narrative paints a portrait of a group of friends locked in a destructive cycle of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. The novel is all but plotless, but the raw and often violent prose takes us on a rollercoaster ride through reality and ha ...more
Paperback, 126 pages
Published April 11th 2003 by Kodansha (first published July 9th 1976)
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Average rating 3.26  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,468 ratings  ·  649 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Jul 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-japanese
"I put the thin fragment of glass, dripping blood, in my pocket, and ran out into the misty road. The doors and windows of the houses were shut, nothing was moving. I thought I'd been swallowed by a huge living thing, that I was turning around and around in its stomach like the hero of some fairy tale."

Almost Transparent Blue

A warning to any potential readers of this book. There is explicit, graphic sex in the first half of this novel. If you are prudish about group sex, alternative sex, or
Jr Bacdayan
Aug 14, 2016 rated it liked it
There is a shrill noise often lost in the background of the more important noises in the world. This piercing cry found abundantly around no matter where you go like pigeons flocking empty streets at the break of dawn, for whatever reason, seems to be relegated as insignificant and unworthy of the spotlight and stages of the world’s short attention span. Many names have been given to this jarring sound, but for the purposes of this cajolery or whatever this is, let us call it the reckless abando ...more
Daniel Clausen
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-of-2018
Aw, the silly depravity of youth. How do I count the ways?

What is it to read this book? To imagine a decadence I never be young and frivolous, to exchange idealism with nihilism so that I can make my depravity a pool of vomit to swim in.

As I reach out to grab the syringe I've never used to shoot up once more words that aren't heroin, I think about my 17-year-old self. He's reading "Trainspotting" in a place that doesn't feel like home, wondering if he can ever go home. He imag
(Soundtrack for this review)

Do you want to know what I don't give a shit about? This book.

I made it a little more than a quarter through it (35 pages to be exact). I found the writing to be blah (to be fair, I think it is the translation), the type to be a bit too small and the font to be faintly illegible. I dreaded having to go on break and read more of this book, and did internal backflips when I noticed the a new Harpers just went on sale before I went on break and saw there was a new D
Sean Blake
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I'm sure we all go through these moments in life, where we end up in a dark pit of frustration and fear, wondering where we should be or go, what we should do, why we are here. We, whether religious or atheist, have our moments where we feel as if life is without meaning, that we are simply an overly self conscious mammal that walks, talks, breathes and finally dies without feeling like we have accomplished much in our short lives. These moments are brief, yet during these precise moments, they ...more
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved and will always love every bit of this book even when the only sratch from it on my memory will be left by images, flashing lights and stomach-churning acts of pluckiness (but purposeful). I am actually dreadfully sad that this had to end, I could go on and on with these youngsters' intrepid, grisly life. It had a 'hard not to notice' scent of Bret Easton Ellis and Burroughs in it, constantly chasing the reader. The only difference is that this is more soaked with meanings than many thin ...more
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: oppa-picks, japan
I just have to face it· there is no Murakami whom I'll like. Let me say how I was rooting for this book but it ended up yet again another disappointment. I acknowledge why it should be considered important for the Japanese literature but this alone is not adaquate.

Short version: Drugs, sex, more drugs, more sex, promiscuous, dirty and disgusting.

Long version: First of all, this novel was plotless. There were just a bunch on people in desperate need of drugs and sex. Half of the book was random
Jun 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Junkies, Losers and Burnouts
Recommended to Chloe by: Matt Darnell
Those who know me are well aware that I have an almost visceral love of twisted literature. Books that are the literary equivalent of a car crash; hedonistic revels that fade into subterranean nightmares. In other words, such extreme excess that you can't help but approach them with a mixture of sick curiosity and nearly overwhelming trepidation. For the longest time that has meant the blasted imaginations of my trifecta of favorite authors (Palahniuk, Irvine Welsh and Bret Easton Ellis) and occ ...more
reflection 211218: i have come to recognize how perhaps differently i read any literature. on the one, i like historic or culture or language-different popular culture, crime, sff pulps, denigrated genres, forgotten works, rarely academically-approved 'classics' (i remember u...). on the other, i like structurally, conceptually, avante-garde, experimental, obscure work that often have little expression of usual things like character, plot, logic... then there is all the philosophy that i as amat ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Time to get stoned! This novel can put you in a catatonic torpor, a drug-induced haze near the point where you are about to overdose and die.

First person narrative, here is someone named Ryu, not yet twenty, with his equally-young male and female buddies. Ryu is telling a story. You hear him, but do not really understand the story being told. The images will distract you and catch your full attention.

First there's this cockroach on some unwashed dishes. Then it is squashed. See the jelly-like su
Patrick Sherriff
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary, japan
So, a tale of Japanese junkies shooting up, having sex, slitting wrists, crushing insects and vomiting a lot. I guess there is some symbolic stuff going on, that if I was smarter or could be bothered, I could piece together. But to my addled eyes, it reads as what it is, a first novel by a 20-something literary talent out to shock stretching his wings for a maiden flight. What Ryu "the other" Murakami does really well, at least that shines though in translation, is descriptions of what it's like ...more
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
As soon as I had read the first page, I knew that I had read “Almost Transparent Blue” at least once many years ago. Even though the weighty & lengthy TBR shelf chides me, I read it through on a long train ride. And I am glad I did. I know like and appreciate this more more than I did before.

This is Murakami-san’s first novel written in his youth about even younger youths. Is it autobiographical? I don’t know and don’t recall anyone ever saying so definitively. The main character shares his pers
Ben Arzate
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Full Review

Almost Transparent Blue transcends cultural boundaries in its existential themes while also retaining uniquely Japanese ones. I believe this is a much better book than Audition (the only other Ryu Murakami book I’ve read so far) and I look forward to reading his other ones.
Maru Kun
Good for students of Japanese wanting to expand their vocabulary around drug-taking, drunken vomiting and rough sex. I rarely participate in two out of these three activities, so for me the book was of limited utility.

This book was a controversial shocker when it first came out but I don’t see why it was ever quite so popular. I think it reflected a lifestyle which Japanese people of that age secretly envied, when they weren't too busy with their math homework. Seriously, who takes drugs listeni
My rating doesn't have anything to do with all the dirty stuff this book had, and I'm not even looking for a plot or point. Some of my favourites are dirty, plotless books. While reading this book, all I could picture was horny Murakami. For one thing,Ryu Murakami is brave enough to write a dirty book with the main character called Ryu. In the miso soup still remains his best book for me.
Perhaps it's just lost in translation and it isn't 1970s anymore.
Jan 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Yes it's violent and depraved. Yes it has graphic scenes of brutal sex and drug use. In the end I think it's about profound loneliness and detachment, the search to feel something real despite or through all those extremes.
The way the kids let themselves be violated by the military is, I think, a representation/ analogy.
The scenes with Ryu and his old friend are heartbreaking.
What can be said about this peculiar little book that has not already been said by far more intelligent folks than your's truly?! Yes. It's a quick read. Yes. It's gritty with the details of drug abuse and sexual orgies "[r]endered in excruciating, often repugnant detail." If you don't like either drug abuse and/or sexual conduct given in such "repugnant detail", don't read it. If, however, you want an introduction to one of Japan's finest, post-modernism writers, then DO read this book.

I am go
Jan 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: weird-stuff
Published in Japan in 1976, this book turned into a Naked Lunch sort of drug-lit phenom. At times, I felt like the violent sex was a bit overdone and I leaned toward a 3-star rating, but there are enough great sentences and amazing imagery to push it to a 4. Ryu takes a lot of chances here--no sturdy plot, odd moments of melancholy, some repugnant scenes, too many characters--but it comes together more often than not, and I was so intrigued by the end, I went and read all the amazon reviews just ...more
Ben Loory
Dec 15, 2009 rated it did not like it
i liked Piercing and i loved In the Miso Soup, but i found this book (his first) just mind-numbingly boring. there's one point where the guy (it took me about 80 pages to decide that the narrator was a guy; even the talk of his penis never really convinced me) talks about the movie he'd like to make, which is simply a huge mirror that reflects back the audience... that was about the only moment in the book that seemed to show a little imagination (though let's be honest, not that much). i'm all ...more
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very miserable and unconventional account of american occupation + subsequent introduction of hard drugs in japan after the second world war. writing was raw, cold, and impactful.
Oct 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japanese
John and Seth should not read this book.

right this book is about sex and drugs and it doesn't really have a plot. But I mean if you like books about drugs and really graphic descriptions of violent psedorape are your thing I say go for it. There is also a fun lsd feel to the book if you can get over the other stuff.
JaHy☝Hold the Fairy Dust

I've never touched a drug a day in my life, yet this book has me contemplating checking myself into a rehab facility.

In all seriousness though, the author writing is riveting.Almost Transparent Blue is raw, gritty and shows the reader a realistic day in the life of an addict(s) (at least I think so).... Hell, I felt like a creepy spectator watching the junkie games. ** cringe**

So the morale of the story folks----> Drugs will turn you into a stinky, sticky and sw
Griffin Alexander
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
A bleak portrayal of a defeated country's youth culture that both consumes American (counter-) culture and is consumed by it. In defiance against the established order of madness that led Japan to a Pyrrhic defeat at the hands of the Allies, the youth here are afloat in their own existence against their cultural inheritance, but with no substantive alternative—suicide here is merely gestural and holds none of the symbolic or existential weight that it is given by the likes of Mishima/Kawabata/Ak ...more
Nov 11, 2012 rated it liked it
It will take a bit of digestion to form a coherent response to this book. The first half was a drag. Violent sex and drug use depicted with skilled, lovely prose, a special focus on body fluids. The only factors that kept me reading were the shortness of the book and the author's skill, because these first sixty pages were deathly boring.

In the second half, something like a story of a dark personal transformation begins to emerge. Free of the blizzard of pills and orgies, the writing focuses on
Erik F.
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
I don’t have much to say about this brief and rather shallow debut, which details the squalid sex-and-drug-fueled existences of a group of young Japanese lowlifes/layabouts in the 1970s, except that it’s lurid, grotesque, delirious, disturbing, and oddly compelling. (I say “compelling,” but my readerly propulsion through the book may simply have been my desire to escape from these sordid characters and their dead-end lives as soon as possible). I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone or ever re ...more
Alice Rachel
Dec 16, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I DNF. I got quickly tired of the racist and homophobic characters. I just wanted to slap them around.
The writing is awful, though I have no way of knowing if it's better in Japanese.
The vulgarity is over the top, and I'm really not into books where raping girls is a casual activity for a bunch of losers and a**holes!
This is the worst book by Murakami.
Sep 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: lit, translation
Female News Host #1: On a personal note, that shit was fucked up!
News Co-Host #1: Yeah it was. I literally pissed myself.

Those words may well be from an entirely different medium but they essentially capture the blasé attitude of the characters in Ryu Murakami's debut novel. And on a personal note, that shit really was fucked up!

A plotless look at the lives of a group of friends who have partied way too hard for way too long and are now living a destructive lifestyle but don't really seem to car
Jovana Autumn
Okay, this book delivers just what it says in the blurb.

We follow a gang of young Japanese men and women and their seemingly empty lives filled with drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and orgies.

There’s nothing really happening here.

All of them have bad coping mechanisms with life, Ryu (the character) contemplates life the most in this novel.

Don’t get me wrong, the characters are beyond likable, all they think about is what to do next to bring them a bit of excitement in their lives – like partying,
Liz Braitman
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
i’m not quite sure how I feel about this book.. I really enjoyed the visuals though. i felt like I was suffocating with the scents and textures of each scene.
Mar 31, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: the deranged
The Other Murakami's oeuvre really wavers in quality. Almost Transparent Blue is hopefully the lower limit.

There were tons of digusting sex and drug scenes, and I don't think I'm some stuck up old prune (ok, maybe I do), but lots of it was just uncalled for.

I don't mind if you want to paint a picture of your days in the gutter, that's fine... but if you're going to subject me to little Japanese girls getting dicked bloody by a group of huge (huge) guys, please move the story to a satisfying conc
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Goodreads Librari...: Change page count 2 8 Aug 02, 2020 04:03PM  
Reading 1001: Almost Transparent Blue by Ryū Murakami 1 12 Aug 28, 2018 05:21PM  
<150 Book Club: February 2018 - Ryu Murakami - Almost Transparent Blue 1 6 Feb 06, 2018 04:46PM  

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Ryū Murakami (村上 龍) is a Japanese novelist and filmmaker. He is not related to Haruki Murakami or Takashi Murakami.

Murakami's first work, the short novel Almost Transparent Blue, written while he was still a student, deals with promiscuity and drug use among disaffected Japanese youth. Critically acclaimed as a new style of literature, it won the newcomer's literature prize in 1976 despite some ob

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