A Journey with Murakami
A growing number of American readers are discovering the unusual world of Haruki Murakami, best known for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. His new book, 1Q84 (see our review below), came out last week, and was so eagerly anticipated that many bookstores opened at midnight so readers could get copies as soon as they were available.
I discovered Murakami when I first became a Raymond Carver fan and learned that a Japanese writer--Murakami--had just translated for the first time all of Carver into Japanese and that the Japanese were going crazy for it. So I read some of his stories, and they were weird--but they were also lovely and believable and incredibly well written. Then I read The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, and I swear I dreamt it the whole time I was reading it. Suddenly I was living in Murakami's world, complete with people who disappear down holes.
He's like all the cool authors from when I was a teenager rolled into one: Vonnegut, Brautigan, Fitzgerald, Salinger, Irving and, of course, Carver. Almost everything you read by him is simply "boy meets girl...." And yet there's something about his writing that sucks you into his world, where you live during his usually very long books, and then you come out, back into your own world. And what's funny is that, in some way, Murakami's world is so strange and murky and beautiful that it's almost a relief to get out of it and back to the boring thick of you life. Still, it's not harsh going from one world to another: he has this incredible gift for writing that seeps into your mind and subtly changes the way you see some things.
He's an author who has a power with words, their cadence, the story, the imagination. When you read him, you ache to be that talented. That's Murakami. --Jenn Risko