This was my first time reading Haruki Murakami’s writing, and I was indeed more than intrigued and impressed. The six stories in this mesmerizing collection are set at the time of the catastrophic 1995 Kobe earthquake, when Japan became brutally aware of the fragility of its daily existence. But the upheavals that afflict Murakami’s characters are even deeper and more mysterious, emanating from a place where the human meets the inhuman.
My two favorite stories: thailand & honey pie.
This short story follows Satsuki – a professional pathologist – moving back to Japan after she “became fed up with living in America” for over a decade, researching the immune function of the thyroid gland. A lot of events occur over the course of Satsuki’s story, when she ends up having her dreams foretold, which is one of my favorite things in books:
“She says that there is a stone inside your body. A hard, white stone. About the size of a child’s fist. She does not know where it came from.”
“A stone?” Satsuki asked.
“There is something written on the stone, but she cannot read it because it is in Japanese: small black characters of some kind. The stone and its inscription are old, old things. You have been living with them inside you for a very long time. You must get rid of the stone. Otherwise, after you die and are cremated, only the stone will remain.”
I live this kind of stuff.
“You are going to have a dream soon about a large snake. In your dream, it will be easing its way out of a hole in a wall—a green, scaly snake. Once it has pushed out three feet from the wall, you must grab its neck and never let go. The snake will look very frightening, but in fact it can do you no harm, so you must not be frightened. Hold on to it with both hands. Think of it as your life, and hold on to it with all your strength. Keep holding it until you wake from your dream. The snake will swallow your stone for you. Do you understand?”
It gave me chills.
thailand ends with quite an open ending as most of the stories did in this collection. Overall, it was a strange but insightful read. I liked it the most from all the other tales.
The concluding story is about the tight-knit threesome of Junpei, Takatsuki, and Sayoko—with born short story writer, Junpei, at the center of this story. It was a lovely tale about friendships, love, storytelling, and so much more. But I especially loved the tales Junpei told Sayoko’s daughter, Sala.
“Junpei often made up stories for Sala when she went to bed. And whenever she didn’t understand something, she would ask him to explain. Junpei gave a lot of thought to his answers. Sala’s questions were always sharp and interesting, and while he was thinking about them he could also come up with new twists to the story.”
Also, how great was Sayoko with her random bra trick:
“Sayoko was wearing a baggy black crewneck sweater. She put both hands on the table and counted, “One … two … three! ” Like a turtle pulling into its shell, she slipped her right hand up inside her sleeve, and then there was a light back-scratching kind of movement. Out came the right hand again, and the left hand went up its sleeve. Sayoko turned her head just a bit, and the left hand came out holding a white bra—a small one with no wires. Without the slightest wasted motion, the hand and bra went back up the sleeve, and the hand came out again. Then the right hand pulled in, poked around at the back, and came out again. The end. Sayoko rested her right hand on her left on the table.
“Twenty-five seconds,” Sala said. “That’s great, Mommy, a new record! Your best time so far was thirty-six seconds.”
One of the funniest and brilliant moments that I’ve encountered while reading.
Overall, I’m really glad I gave this short story collection a try, and I can’t wait to read more of Haruki Murakami’s charm and wit in his other works.