web counter VISITORS SINCE JUNE, 2006

Monday, April 02, 2007

All that Encompasses Fiction...

Murakami's ability to make us believe in the dream-like stories he weaves is by far the most obvious example of his genius. The 24 stories in "Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman" are addictive to read. Murakami's work is the reason we return to fiction as an escape (or as a learning tool). Again, his ability to make us believe is uncanny and unparalleled. The last story I reported on was "A Folklore for My Generation: A Pre-History of Late-Stage Capitalism." That story was a microscopic venture into the heart of a generation that was too big for its own good; a generation whose promise not only was fulfilled, but generated more greed than any before then. And along those lines, the protagonist finds himself fulfilled but unhappy.l In "Hunting Knife," the narrator and his wife are on vacation at a small resort. Being it out of season there's hardly any other guests. The narrator describes the exception as a mother and a young man in a wheelchair. To make a short story even shorter, the narrator's emptiness is so thinly and vaguely described that one finds it hard to see what--if anything--is the matter with the narrator. At the end of the story, the narrator and the young man in the wheelchair have a conversation about a hunting knife, and just like magic the reader is left to theorize about why the narrator seems to keen on waving the hunting knife cutting through the air (hoping to cut those attachments that make him so weighed down?). "A Poor Aunt Story" begins by a narrator questioning why to every family there seems to be a 'poor aunt,' you know the type... you only see her on birthdays or weddings, she keeps to herself, never married, etc. Well, the narrator wakes up one day (after complaining of not having such an aunt) with his own poor aunt attached to his back. She looks over his shoulder. This is why Murakami is so incredible. He makes this leap of faith into the fantastical in an otherwise realistic story and without the reader realizing it, she/he suspends his/her disbelief without reserve. This story is a reminder to all of us as to what the purposes of fiction are. We can theorize them, analyze them, restrict entrance into the canon... but there's no way to absolve us to whom fiction of this type is simply and escape. Murakami is one of today's finest writers and a humankind genius.
4.0/18.2 total miles.

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At 2:46 PM, Blogger litlove said...

I have always had Murakami at the back of my mind as a writer I would enjoy, and now I see I really must go ahead and read him! Thanks for the wonderful insight into his work.

At 2:54 PM, Blogger Imani said...

Oh litlove you absolutely won't be disappointed. Like JCR said he manages to take the threads of reality--from philosophy to history to music--and weaves together something out-of-this-world. One of my definite favourites.

So it's rather shocking that I haven't bought this set of short stories yet. (I've actually been avoiding the shorter and non-fiction works in favour of his novels.) If it's out in paperback I'll be sure to pick it up.

At 6:50 PM, Blogger Dorothy W. said...

I did enjoy one of Murakami's novels (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle), so I bet I'd like this collection -- thanks for the review.

At 1:02 AM, Blogger Susan Abraham said...

Murakami challenges the predictable borders of the imagination, doesn't he, even for things surreal. :-)


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