Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Listen to Haruki Murakami

Gazing at the rain, I consider what it means to belong, to become part of something.  To have someone cry for me.  From someplace distant, so very distant.  From, ultimately, a dream.  No matter how far I reach out, no matter how fast I run, I'll never make it.

Why would anyone want to cry for me?

--Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami

Japanese writer Haruki Murakami is a very unique author to read.  I never know what to expect while reading his books or short stories, and that's a good thing.  Murakami's method of combining interesting characters, metaphysical elements, memorable dialogue, music, food, and pop culture references first got me hooked two years ago.   I started out by reading After Dark and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.  Here is a brief description of the Murakami titles we have in audio format:

After the Quake
The earthquake referred to in the title is the 1995 earthquake that occurred in Kobe, Japan.  The stories in this collection are Murakami's interpretation of the earthquake's effects on people in Japan.  Shorter than his other collections like  Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman or The Elephant Vanishes, After the Quake includes six stories.

Dance Dance Dance
This book details the search for the main character's onetime girlfriend Kiki, who suddenly vanishes.
Kafka on the Shore
This book follows two characters, Kafka and Nakata.  Kafka is a teenager who runs away from home and sets up to live in a library.  Nakata is an old man looking for an entrance stone. Their stories are eventually weaved together by the end after following different paths and meeting some colorful people (and animals).  

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
The first time I read this book I couldn't put it down because of how completely absorbed in the plot I became.  The story starts out with a married man, unemployed at home, and a lost cat.  His wife leaves and he explores the city looking for the cat.  I know, it sounds really simple, but Murakami always lures you in with a simple beginning and then catapults you off from there toward deeper questions.