Showing posts with label haruki murakami. Show all posts
Showing posts with label haruki murakami. Show all posts

Monday, July 19, 2021

Double Mini-Reviews, Murakami Edition: Ft. After Dark & What I Talk About When I Talk About Running


After Dark by Haruki Murakami
Publication: April 29th, 2008
Paperback. 244 pages.

About After Dark:
"The midnight hour approaches in an almost empty all-night diner. Mari sips her coffee and glances up from a book as a young man, a musician, intrudes on her solitude. Both have missed the last train home. 

Later, Mari is interrupted again by a girl from the Alphaville Hotel; a Chinese prostitute has been hurt by a client, and she needs Mari's help. 

Meanwhile Mari's beautiful sister Eri sleeps a deep, heavy sleep that is 'to perfect, too pure' to be normal; she has lain asleep for two months. But tonight a the digital clock displays 00:00, a hint of life flickers across the TV screen, though the television's plug has been pulled out. Strange nocturnal happenings, or a trick of the night?"

After Dark is one of the few full length novels from Murakami that I still hadn't read, and I'm sorry I didn't get to it sooner because it's definitely become one of my favorites. This novel takes place over the course of a single night in Tokyo and follows a few rather charmingly eccentric characters, as one might expect from any Murakami novel. 

The story's overarching narrative follows two sisters, Eri and Mari, though we spend most of time exploring from Mari's perspective as she encounters a variety of interesting people and takes part in some different activities over the course of the night. Each and every person mentioned in this book has some sort of connection to one or more characters, some expected and some entirely unexpected, and it is these connections that really allow the narrative to flow and tell of this night in Tokyo. We encounter a variety of stories and experiences shared by individual characters, tidbits from unique lives, pleasant (and unpleasant) conversations, musings on life, and some occasional chapters focusing on Eri's life that take things to a much more abstract and difficult to explain level. I wouldn't necessarily call it magical realism in this book, but there are certainly some odd observations in those chapters that added some incredibly complexity and depth to the overarching narrative. 

After Dark is not a fast-paced story by any means, but it reads incredibly quickly and I found it as engaging to read as many of Murakami's other novels. There is something beautifully simplistic about the translation and writing while also maintaining the ability to convey some incredible philosophical insights and insightful comments. The ending was perfect to me in the sense that it was exactly what I would've expected and wanted from Murakami. It's very much a more open-ended conclusion, so I can see why some people may not like it, but I think it worked and matched the tone perfectly for this story. 

Overall, it was an easy five stars from me for After Dark

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
Publication Date: August 11th, 2009
Paperback. 190 pages.

About What I Talk About When I Talk About Running:
"An intimate look at writing, running, and the incredible way they intersect, from the incomparable, bestselling author Haruki Murakami. While simply training for New York City Marathon would be enough for most people, Haruki Murakami's decided to write about it as well. The result is a beautiful memoir about his intertwined obsessions with running and writing, full of vivid memories and insights, including the eureka moment when he decided to become a writer. By turns funny and sobering, playful and philosophical, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is rich and revelatory, both for fans of this masterful yet guardedly private writer and for the exploding population of athletes who find similar satisfaction in athletic pursuit."

I'd been meaning to pick up this book for a number of years, but for some reason only recently got around to it. This is different from Murakami's other work that I've read largely in the fact that it is a nonfiction piece with some heavy autobiographical notes. This book was written on the premise of Murakami keeping a journal of his thoughts and musings while training for a marathon (which, in case you didn't know–Murakami has completed numerous marathons and other competitions over the course of his life!). However, I would say that this book is so much more than that and truly stood out to me as a piece of writing that I will come back to over and over again in the future. 

You don't have to be a runner or a writer to read this book or take away some truly thoughtful ideas and insightful musings on life from it. For Murakami, running is a part of his writing process, and the idea of training for marathons and working on his running was vital to his ability to stay focused on his writing and meet regular deadlines. Because of this, we get a glimpse into his writing process and what it is that he thinks makes him a successful, steady writer. Murakami is one of the most honest voices I've read, and in doing so he is both humble and confident in his abilities. Everything he says is very much matter-of-fact, neither bragging nor denying accomplishments, and it is this voice that makes him such a compelling and admirable figure. It was affirming in a sense to read about his own struggle and how he has overcome the obstacles that pop into his life with dedication and determination. He has an incredibly frank view of life, and one that is full of wonder and respect, all of which really stood out to me. 

One theme that I didn't expect from this book was that of aging and Murakami's gradual acceptance of growing older and learning how his body and mind change. Many of the things he discusses are topics that I myself have worried about in regards to getting older, despite the fact that I am still in my twenties, and it was reassuring to see that I'm not nearly alone in dealing with these thoughts. His meditations on growing older, and on life in general, were very eye-opening and meaningful from me, and I really can't emphasize enough how much I appreciated and loved every page of this book. Although it is a translation, his writing is smooth, easy to read, and draws in readers easily with plain language and a voice that is friendly and approachable. 

It's another five stars from me for this book--what can I say, Murakami remains one of my favorite writers! What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a book that I still think about since finishing and that I think I will continue to think back on and revisit whenever I need a bit of a palate cleanser for my brain. Murakami is always the perfect reset for my mind!

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Friday Face-Off: Movie Tie-In Edition

Friday Face Off New
Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme here at Books by Proxy. Join us every Friday as we pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe. You can find a list of upcoming topics at Lynn's Books.

This week's topic is:
 A cover that is a movie tie in

This was a hard one because I don't tend to like most movie tie-in covers, but eventually I stumbled upon the movie tie-in cover for Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood and I didn't hate it, so that was the winner! ;)
Since only one or two covers are the movie tie-in, I tried to pick out other editions that feature people ont he cover as well so they'd be on slightly more even ground while comparing them all.

  Norwegian WoodNorwegian WoodRừng Na Uy
2010 Vintage Movie Tie-In Edition | 2003 Vintage | 2006 Vietnamese

Norweigan Woodالغابة النرويجيةNorwegian Wood
2006 Russian | 2008 Arabic | 2000 Vintage

Norské dřevoTokio Blues: Norwegian WoodΝορβηγικό δάσος
2005 Czech | 2009 Spanish | 2007 Greek

My choice:
Norwegian WoodNorwegian WoodNorwegian Wood
Well look at that, Ms. Indecisive is back! I've given up on trying to pick a single favorite these days (though I do still try, I swear!) because there's usually just far too many that I enjoy. The movie tie-in edition wasn't a favorite at first, but the more I look at it the more I like how it captures the atmosphere somewhat of the book. But... I'm also so in love with the middle Vintage cover edition series, and something about the 2003 Vintage edition also grabs me!

What cover(s) do you like the most!?

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Friday Face-Off: Upside Down

Friday Face Off New
Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme here at Books by Proxy. Join us every Friday as we pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe. You can find a list of upcoming topics at Lynn's Books.

This week's topic is:
“Ludo ….. down” – A cover that is Upside Down

One of the first books that came to mind for this week's 'upside down' prompt was The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. Unfortunately, there only seems to be one cover edition that actually has the upside down element, but I decided to share a few different cover varieties anyway. And since only one Murakami book has an upside down element, I decided to share a small handful of other random books I thought of that have upside down elements as well at the end.

  The Wind-Up Bird ChronicleTrækopfuglens krønikeChroniques de l'oiseau à ressort
1998 US Vintage | 2001 Danish | 2004 French

  The Wind-Up Bird ChronicleZemberekkuÅŸu'nun GüncesiThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
1997 US Knopf | 2018 Turkish | 2015 US Vintage

Fågeln som vrider upp världenBiên Niên Ký Chim Vặn Dây CótΤο κουρδιστό πουλί
2008 Swedish | 2007 Vietnamese | 2005 Greek

My choice:
I will always be partial to the early Murakami Vintage editions and I just love this design. When I first started reading Murakami back in the day, these were still the regular covers available, though now they've republished just about all of them with new covers. I like the new covers, but I'd love to finish up my collection with all the originals that I love (like this one!).
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Which covers do you like best?

Bonus upside-down covers!
The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust ActTess of the Road (Tess of the Road, #1)Alias HookThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Friday, March 8, 2019

The Friday Face-Off: Fish

Friday Face Off New
Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme here at Books by Proxy. Join us every Friday as we pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe. You can find a list of upcoming topics at Lynn's Books.

This week's topic is:
‘Two little fishes and a momma fishy too’ – A cover featuring a fish/fishes or other sea creatures

I thought this would be a fun topic, and it was! I didn't remember that Haruki Murakami's After Dark had fish on some of its covers (and frogs!) until I came across while looking for books to use, so I was pleasantly surprised because I knew there'd be many covers to choose from. I picked a few rather different ones to give an idea of how wide-ranging in style some of these are.

  After the QuakeAfter the QuakeDupă cutremur
2002 Alfred A. Knopf Hardcover|| 2003 Paperback Vintage || 2006 Romanian

  Après le tremblement de terrePo otÅ™esechΜετά το σεισμό
2002 French || 2010 Czech || 2009 Greek

După cutremurNakon potresaВсе божьи дети могут танцевать

2014 Romanian || 2003 Croatian || 2006 Russian

My choice(s):
I'm torn! I like the Romanian one quite a bit for some reason, the Croatian one's fish looks cute, and the Russian and Greek ones are gorgeous! But...I also like the US Vintage edition as well, so...¯\_(ツ)_/¯

After the QuakeΜετά το σεισμόВсе божьи дети могут танцевать

Which covers do you like best?

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

First Chapter Tuesday: Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami & Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller

First Chapter Tuesday is hosted every Tuesday by Vicki @ I'd Rather Be at the Beach. This is meme in which bloggers share the first chapter of a book that they are currently reading or thinking about reading soon. Join the fun by making your own post and linking up over at Vicki's blog, or simply check it out to find more new books to read!

For this week's First Chapter Tuesday I thought I would share some intros from two books that I've just started reading!

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami
trans. Philip Gabriel, Ted Goossen
Killing Commendatore 


"Today when I awoke from a nap the faceless man was there before me. He was seated on the chair across from the sofa I’d been sleeping on, staring straight at me with a pair of imaginary eyes in a face that wasn’t. 
The man was tall, and he was dressed the same as when I had seen him last. His face-that-wasn’t-a-face was half hidden by a wide-brimmed black hat, and he had on a long, equally dark coat. 

“I came here so you could draw my portrait,” the faceless man said, after he’d made sure I was fully awake. His voice was low, toneless, flat. “You promised you would. You remember?”


From May until early the following year, I lived on top of a mountain near the entrance to a narrow valley. Deep in the valley it rained constantly in the summer, but outside the valley it was usually sunny. This was due to the southwest wind that blew off the ocean. Moist clouds carried by the wind entered the valley, bringing rain as they made their way up the slopes. The house was built right on the boundary line, so often it would be sunny out in front while heavy rain fell in back. At first I found this disconcerting, but as I got used to it, it came to seem natural."

Since this book has a prologue as well, I decided to do as I usually do and include a snippet of both that and the first chapter.
I've been looking for to reading Killing Commendatore since it was release in Japan two (?) years ago and the wait has felt endless. It was published in English as of a few months ago and I'm finally finding the time to sink into this one. I'm already loving it and can't wait to keep going.

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller



People would say she came to Qaanaaq in a skiff towed by a killer whale harnessed to the front like a horse. In these stories, which grew astonishingly elaborate in the days and weeks after her arrival, the polar bear paced beside her on the flat bloody deck of the boat. 

Her face was clenched and angry. She wore battle armor built from thick scavenged plastic. At her feet, in heaps, were the kind of weird weapons and machines that refugee-camp ingenuity had been producing; strange tools fashioned from the wreckage of Manhattan or Mumbai. Her fingers twitched along the walrus-ivory handle of her blade. She had come to do something horrific in Qaanaaq, and she could not wait to start. 

You have heard these stories. You may even have told them. Stories are valuable here. They are what we brought when we came here; they are what cannot be taken away from us."

I've had this on my TBR for way too long. I finally have my hands on a copy and hope to actually get this read before the end of the year!

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

What do you think? Would you keep reading these books? (And feel free to join in and make your own post!) 

*Excerpts are taken from the novel itself; I do not claim to own any part of the excerpt.