Imagine a Dream Denied...
Murakami's story "A Folklore for My Generation: A Pre-History of Late-Stage Capitalism" deals with a dream denied. The narrator relates the story of "two of those people," there's always some of them in schools: successful, good-looking, smart, good at sports, popular. The narrator calls them Mr. and Mrs. Clean. The narrator's school has two of these people and they are dating each other as if they were in an exclusive club. Whether the narrator is resentful or not is not very clear, but years after graduating from high school, the narrator encounters (as he calls him) Mr. Clean. It turns out that those two perfect people didn't end up together. The story shifts point of view, as now the successful "Mr. Clean" tells the story of love unfulfilled, years of depressive abandon, etc. It is really a sad story. It struck me that we all have had a friend like this, or perhaps we were in this position ourselves. Mrs. Clean gets married to someone else. She disappears from Mr. Clean's life. Mr. Clean offers the narrator a clean and simple story without any hints along the way to ruin the end. It is, like I said, a very hard story to swallow, but it is also one that is so perfectly written that it is easy to get lost in it. Here's a nice detail. While having dinner together at a fancy Italian restaurant, the narrator and Mr. Clean are so involved in the story that the reader might actually lose perspective as to where they are. Murakami interjects: "By this time the restaurant was completely full, loud with the sound of people's voices, laughter, plates clinking. Almost all the guest were locals, it seemed, and they called out the waiters by their first name: 'Giuseppe, Paolo!'" This is a very simple touch to the story but one that stuck out to me as the writer's techniques to keep the story moving forward without losing track of the setting.
I am only on page 81 of the collection. I plan to make up for lost time, time in which it was difficult for me to concentrate. Hopefully this weekend I will read voraciously.