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Janet

Haruki Murakami

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Janet

I'm now reading a third book by this Japanese author, and I must say that his books are really unusual. Weird, in fact.

 

This author's books seem to be about parallels or dream states or states of consciousness and strange synchronicities. They are not exactly philosophical but some philosophy is mixed in. 

 

I first read "1Q84" (the Q was how characters designated the time in a parallel of their home world) and then "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World," which just can't be explained. And now I'm reading "Kafka on the Shore" which is also bizarre. One part was quite shocking, and I'm very curious as to how this will turn out. 

 

The books draw me into these very strange worlds. I can't say I love them, but I can't put them down once I start, so I guess I'm a fan. 

 

Has anyone else read this author?

 

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Tawanyh

Yes, I've read Murakami. About three or 4 books, too. Indeed an odd author. They say about him that he writes about a Japan that doesn't exist, but it probably goes even farther than that, it's like he's writing about a dimension all of its own. 

 

I've read Dance Dance Dance, Norwegian Wood, Sputnik Mon Amour and bits of 1Q84.

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Rosario

ooh I tried with "Windup bird chronicle" but couldn't get through the first chapter LOL

 

But I loved his short memoir "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running"...also has tips for writers ❤️

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Wendy

I've read Kafka on the Shore and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle I believe.

1Q84 is on my must read list. 

I find him less bizarre than the Latin American magic realism authors, who at one time I couldn't get enough of!

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Tawanyh

I forgot to mention that I definitely enjoy his books, despite sometimes feeling that they are a bit too "pop" (not in the sense of mainstream but more like, very modern). 

 

@Wendy have you read Elena Garro, a precursor of magical realism?

 

@Rosario maybe eventually the first chapter will get through you 😉 or you could try another book of his. The three I mentioned are more straightforward, although in some cases such downers. 

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Felix

I've read some of his books in university (Japanese Studies)... But I never became a fan. Just like @Tawanyh, I also find Murakami to be a bit too "pop" (or Jazz? Murakami is avantgarde 🙂) and sometimes it seems forced to me. He is in the forefront of Japanese authors that write so-called "odorless literature", meaning culturally neutral, so that an international audience may come to read his works.

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ckaricai

Murakami’s books are great. I’ve read all of them except Iq84. It’s in my audible que. I love books like that. Another similar Japanese author is Kobo Abe. 

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Evelin

I’ve only read Norwegian Wood, which found me at the right moment, I loved it, even though it was emotionally painful in places. In that book I could nearly touch some of the emotional states he described, he has a knack at describing astral/emotional realms that make them seem very hand-reachably real.

 

I didn’t find him too weird at all, but I had already had an introduction into the Japanese kind of weirdness when living with a student of Japanese studies, so maybe that’s why.

I’m yet to discover magical realism  for myself. I mean I know of it, but it hasn’t touched me so far, haven’t managed to dive into those books the way you at best can, lose yourself in a book and find yourself living in its world for a while.

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Tawanyh

@Felix that's cool that you studied Japanese culture etc.and yeah, that's what I meant, that it feels a bit forced (although I had a good time reading them), a bit like sacrificing substance to style etc. and yeah, maybe I meant "avant-garde Jazz" (I quite love Jazz but haven't heard much avant-garde and it hasn't appelead to me that much. This reminds me to explore avant-garde Jazz further). Like he's trying too much to be a cosmopolitan, "cool cat" (then again, there are many books of his I haven't read. It might depend on the period the book was written, maybe he has different phases etc).

 

@ckaricai I know "woman in the dunes" but it's been about 8 years. I remember it was cool, different etc. but I'd need to read it again to comment further. 

 

@Evelin maybe that Japanese studies student you lived, being as weird as you say, will inspire a book sometime 😉 and if you wanna explore magic realism or Spanish/Portuguese lit in general, I'll be glad to help. 

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bkraft

I loved 1Q84! I enjoyed the way he slowly wove the two protagonists' journey together. It felt like I was in capable hands.😏 My preference is actually for his short stories, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman is  an excellent collection to try, but I did enjoy the very long book. @Evelinagreed, he has a wonderful gift for describing experiences that seem intangible. 

Magical realism is interesting it really depends on whose defining the term and then that's what determines which books fall under the heading. I do love Isabel Allende' writing style.😍

 

 

 

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Tawanyh

@bkraft right, he has short stories, too. I always forget that 🙂 

 

 

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catherine

I used to really love Murakami and have read a good handful of his books. I was first drawn to his style -- the way he describes mundane scenes is so great (though, obvs a lot of the credit goes to his translators. I really like Jay Rubin's versions). I also like magical realism in a contemporary setting and he's the first I've read who does that; it makes it easier to immerse yourself into his world because it's not radically unlike the one we are living in.

 

 

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Evelin
14 hours ago, Tawanyh said:

 

@Evelin maybe that Japanese studies student you lived, being as weird as you say, will inspire a book sometime 😉 and if you wanna explore magic realism or Spanish/Portuguese lit in general, I'll be glad to help. 

 

Perhaps I wasn't clear, the person I lived with wasn't weird and wasn't Japanese, he studied Japanese and introduced me to the Japanese brand of "weirdness". (To me it's not weirdness, it's a different (sub)culture.) Thanks for the suggestion, I doubt I'll write much narrative prose in this lifetime, an essay or two and translating are a different matter 🙂

My brother LOVES Borges and Márquez, while I think I always chose the wrong time to read their books. But my brother also likes Cabernet Sauvignon and I can't stand it, so maybe he got all the Magical Realism and Cabernet genes and I didn't get any, ha.

 

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Evelin
15 hours ago, ckaricai said:

Murakami’s books are great. I’ve read all of them except Iq84. It’s in my audible que. I love books like that. Another similar Japanese author is Kobo Abe. 

 

Oh, indeed, Kobo Abe is very very strange. I also love Akutagawa.

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Tawanyh

@Evelin I did get he wasn't Japanese (student of Japanese studies, not Japanese student) but I wasn't sure about the weirdness, wondering whether he was a bit eccentric or it was just the culture that is a bit unusual from certain backgrounds etc. at this point I have a lukewarm relationship with García Marquez but Borges is one of my favorite authors ever, ever.  Haven't heard of Akutagawa, I think. Looking them up. 

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Janet
15 hours ago, bkraft said:

I did enjoy the very long book

In fact, this is how I found 1Q84. I read very fast, and so I look for long books that will take me enough time to read to justify the cost. The longer the better.

 

Lately I've been trying Amazon Prime Reading so that I'm more likely to try shorter books. ("Shorter" = less than 400 pages. lol) I've found a few interesting items, but nothing that's likely going to make me continue the Prime Reading experiment for more than a few months.

 

As you might guess from this, I'm not a fan of short stories in general. 😉

 

Note: Amazon Prime Reading is $9.99 a month to read anything under the label for free. There is a very large selection, but for some reason the books I usually want are not included. 

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Felix
1 hour ago, Janet said:

I read very fast, and so I look for long books that will take me enough time to read to justify the cost. The longer the better.

Hahaha, it's the same with me. I like how "real" books feel, but I've switched to ebooks for my novels since I can read them at night in bed without switching on the big lights... Some time ago I read a trilogy that had been packed into one file that was over 12,000 pages long on my iPad. I was thrilled. 😀 

 

To get back to Japanese novels: What stuck most was the genre of aestheticism. Tanizaki Jun'ichiro comes to mind, or the controversial Mishima Yukio.

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Tawanyh

@Felix I really like Mishima (some of the first stuff by him that I read were his thoughts about exercise, the body etc) and don't think I'm familia with Tanizaki. I'll google him. 

 

And yeah, e-books are pretty practical. 

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Janet

@Felix -- I've even tried to read "In Search of Lost Time" = 4000+ pages. Talk about "lost time" -- the author just spews words without end and it takes hundreds of pages for anything to happen. I still read it on my phone when I'm not actively reading something and I need to fill some time while waiting. But I scan paragraphs until I find an action verb. lol

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Felix

@Tawanyh Wow you even know Mishima 😀   I liked his "Confessions of a Mask" and especially "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion".  Tanizaki also wrote short stories, his most famous one should be "The Tattooer".

 

@Janet Oh my, the title fits then 😅. The last time I read something like this was Peter Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga (Science Fiction). He would go on and on about the geography of some random planet, how this river flows through the land, the architecture and politics....even though it was clear that this planet would only be a short and insignificant stop. In cases like that, books really become "page turners" for me 😀

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Tawanyh

@Janet I tried reading Proust and Balzac and it's just too much, too unecessarily wordy. So, I mostly stick to summaries or the key chapters, best pages etc. I go for concise. Although sometimes I stretch that too far; I mean, "Brothers Karamazov" is my favorite novel ever and it's 1000+ pages long.  That's a great tip about scanning action verbs (y) 

 

@Felix for instance, Octavio Paz's (Nobel-winning author from my country) daughter was friends with Mishima.  Thank you for the tip about Tanizaki.  With Mishima I feel I'll probably like better his non-fiction than fiction. 

 

I'm tempted to read Commonwealth Saga, although it'll probably irk me. I admire authors who write with details because it's something I just don't do (I'm more of a big picture kind of person) but I just can't go with it when it's taken to the extreme. 

 

 

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Felix
7 minutes ago, Tawanyh said:

I admire authors who write with details because it's something I just don't do (I'm more of a big picture kind of person) but I just can't go with it when it's taken to the extreme. 

I know what you mean. I just read something on the other pole of the extreme, where the author doesn't go into any details at all. Even after 2000 pages it was all very vague. I didn't even know what the protagonist looked like..... 😅

 

When I think about immersion done perfectly (for my tastes), I think of "The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss and "Imajica" by Clive Barker 😌

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Tawanyh

2000 pages and not even a physical description and everything so vague? What did he/she fill those pages with? The description of an entire championship? A war? Just stream of thoughts? 

 

I'm familiar with Rothfuss' name but haven't read that. I'll look up both books, thanks. 

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Felix

It was a "light novel" of a seemingly famous Chinese author who first published it chapter by chapter on the internet..... He goes by the name "I eat Tomatoes". Mostly it was fighting or training, I guess 😅  It's a kind of Chinese martial arts fantasty novel...... He would go on and on what a genius the protagonist was and how great his training was.... but the setting? From the beginning of the story it was totally unclear if it is set in ancient China, the future, a fantasy world.... Is the protagonist Chinese? I still have no idea, haha. The author liked to use westernized names for the characters.... The whole thing was lackluster, in my opinion, what a pity. But still, as a Scholar I found it interesting to experience as contrast to "over immersion" (or too many details). 😁

 

Clive Barker is mostly famous for his association with horror movies, the most famous is Hellraiser from the 80s, which is based on one of his novels. But he is by no means just a horror author, Imajica is such a diverse work.... there is violence, but I wouldn't call it horror. Surprisingly for me, there even is a very natural and beautiful topic of inclusion, LGBT-wise.

 

Patrick Rothfuss is very special for me. I've read A LOT of Fantasy (and Science Fiction) and found his style of writing totally fresh and special....sophisticated but not pretentious.... There are scenes where his protagonist plays music and they have really come to life for me, I never experienced that before. When some musician praised the author for that in an interview, he laughed and said that he didn't have any background in music whatsoever 😅

 

For me, very few times in my life I have read books and some time later thought about something and had pictures in my mind (like from a movie) and couldn't place them. Then I remember that it was that book I read, that apparently had such a big impact that I remember it as if I had seen it play out with my eyes. "The Samurai's Garden" by Gail Tsukiyama was like that, I read it maybe 20 years ago and still see some scenes in my head 🙂

 

@Janet Oh my, sorry to go off on a tangent like that.

Edited by Felix
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Tawanyh

@Felix fighting and training and the awesomess of the Western-named hero, OK xD don't think I'm gonna like it but I'm tempted to take a peek, just to read it with my own eyes and get a better idea of what you're talking about it and get amused and perplexed by it, too (and cite it as an example if anyone doubts whether you can go on and on and on without really saying anything or giving a good idea about your world).

 

Oh, Hellraiser. I've seen bits of that.  OK, I'll look into Imajica 🙂

 

Yes, Rothfuss has been very recommended to me. Now I'm more excited to read him.  I'll look into the Samurai's Garden, too. Thanks.

 

@Janet are we getting too off-topic? This was a thread all about Murakami and by now we're running the entire gamut of authors. Maybe we should go back to Murakami, such as discussing differences between books or quote him, discuss upcoming books or adaptations of them etc. 

 

 

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