Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Nightswimming in Murakami

I don't consider myself to be what anyone would call a prolific reader. I made a goal for myself at the beginning of 2010 (and the same goal for every year for the past 3 or 4) to read a book a month. To a lot of people this would seem like the opposite of a challenge. My older brother can park himself in a quiet room for 7 hours solid and polish off a good-sized novel. I have simply never had that ability. I find my mind wandering while I read and often have to re-read a paragraph 3 or 4 times before the information sinks in. Needless to say, reading is not quite as relaxing for me as it is for some, it is an exercise in concentration.
Murakami was suggested to me by my grad school professor, Michael Moore (not that Michael Moore) when I told him I was interested in writing short stories based on my dreams. At first it seemed like a marriage of convenience (I couldn't pay attention for long and most of his stories were under 30 pages), but after a while I realized that there was something truly magical about the worlds that he painted and I fell madly in love with his writing. Jeanette once told me, of a person she admired that she wanted to "go swimming in his brain" and that is the best combination of words to describe how Murakami's work makes me feel. He is adventurous in subject, adept at wordplay, and unafraid of cliches and inexplicable situations. I admire Kiki Smith for the same reasons; They are both exceptional at what they do, and are unafraid of laying their brains out naked for everyone to see.

But enough gushing.

I just finished Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman," and it is my FIRST book that I have read this year. A little behind schedule. The balance and flow of the 24 stories was impeccable. Some stories remained unresolved and frustrating while others tied up as neatly as Murakamily possible. Some stories revolved around perfectly realistic happenings and others involved mythical characters and talking monkeys. My favorite was "A 'Poor Aunt' Story," which involved a little of all of the above- ordinary situations with ordinary people, and an element which is inexplicably ...hazy. The reader leaves the story not knowing what has actually transpired, with no real reason to pick the story apart to solve that mystery. Every Murakami story is just the way that it is, leaving you wondering if that name appeared in another tome, and if that has some significance to the present story. I feel a strong sense of the present in his work. A lack of nostalgia. No real pretext for the future. Just ... is.

I'm not really making any sense, but I wanted to share how I feel right now, after JUST having finished this marvelous book; Supported, encouraged, and inspired.