Posts Tagged ‘haruki murakami’

Books Links

February 6, 2014

Well, Haruki Murakami has horribly insulted some town in Japan.  Within his newest short story, a woman tosses a smoke from her car window and the main character makes the comment that all people from this woman’s town must be horrible litterers. I omit the name of the town from my blog in fear of bringing their wrath down upon me.

Amazon is venturing into publishing.  Okay, they’ve been there awhile but the Seattle Times is finally writing about it. Good read.

Alright, so JK Rowling isn’t exactly thrilled with having Hermione and Weasley become an item.  I’ve since seen debates springing up across the web about it. Yes, Harry was perfect for Hermione. Weasley and Hermione had a genuine romantic give and take.  The only one perfect for Harry was Ron. Wait…no, I think that last one was just me.  My only real response at this point  is who cares?  She wishes she had written the books differently. Okay. Most authors probably have similar wishes at some point. She isn’t kicking your dog, she isn’t irrevocably destroying your faith in God. She’s just saying, “hey, maybe I could have done something different.” Big deal.

Book Links

January 28, 2014

Dean Koontz had a hangout on Google+ the other day. Go here if you’re interested. I’m not a big fan of their video player, it keeps wanting to close when I switch tabs and try to come back to it later, but from what I have listened to in snippets and pieces, it seems like a good one. It’s also a long one (~54 minutes) so you’ll have to set aside a chunk of time to watch it entirely. I sort of wish they would have just an audio version for us folks who maybe don’t h ave a killer internet connection and who don’t want to put up with buffering, lag, and everything else. Or google can get their own high speed installed in more places (preferable).

Have a cup of coffee, chat about Murakami. This is actually one of a serious of articles about Haruki Murakami. This one’s about a jazz cafe turned book cafe where Murakami fans gather and gab. I liked it, but I’m a Murakami fan. So…

And here’s a link I haven’t put up before, but probably should have. It’s an organization for independent book stores. I always have a B&N link with stories I review, because I’m really not a fan of Amazon’s practices related to the book industry,but I should push the independents more, too.  For a vibrant community, and a healthy industry, support your local book stores.

Book Links 5-9-13

May 9, 2013

Stuck in an elevator with Rushdie (and a host of of other interesting people)

Barnes & Noble is considering selling Nook to Microsoft. I think this is B&N getting ahead of the curve here, actually.  It’d be nice if they could keep getting some sort of share of sales of ereaders, but I don’t think there is a huge future in them. With tablets becoming more ubiquitous and more powerful, and the screens getting better, needing a dedicated reading device is going to become more and more unnecessary. At that point, does B&N have the infrastructure to be a player on the global tablet market against the likes of Apples, the various PC tablet makers, and Amazon? I don’t think so, and I’m guessing they are seeing that writing on the wall. They have been able to use Nook to keep afloat, to weather the storm of the initial push into the digital age, and now they need to find a way to establish themselves as booksellers in this market rather than technology sellers.

It’s at this point that finding some sort of partnership with MS makes a lot of sense. MS is big enough to run with the hardware end, and the software end comes naturally.  Also, B&N can become a bit of  a gateway to content for MS, depending on where B&N wants to take itself I’m a bit under the weather and my head is still pretty cloudy from lack of sleep, sickness, overmedication, and coffee, so it is a bit difficult to get my thoughts organized about this. However, it seems MS wants the next xbox to be even more of a media hub. Part of that is print – books, magazines, whatever. B&N seems to be a natural gateway for that. If they can find a way to scratch eachother’s needs, it could be hugely beneficial to them.

Haruki Murakami translated The Great Gatsby into Japanese, and here is something he wrote about it. I’m a Murakami fan and a Gatsby fan, so this was pretty much up my alley. A good read.

Okay, I don’t have as much to talk about as I thought, so I think I’m ending it here.


100 Best Books of the 2000s

December 4, 2009

Few things make me feel as culturally ignorant as “Best of…” lists. This wonderful list, compiled the London Times back in November, succeeds at this with distinction.  There are books I’ve read and loved, books I’ve been meaning to pick up and read, and books I’ve never heard of. Rare was the book I had read and hadn’t especially cared for (Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius was the standout in this regard).

There were a handful of books that I questioned.

90 Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (2005)

Meyer’s books about the schoolgirl Bella Swan and her passion for Edward Cullen, the tortured “vegetarian” vampire (doesn’t bite humans), have taken the world’s pre-pubescent females by storm. Basically, he’s a fanged Mr Darcy, with all sexual threat surgically removed.

One of the few books I haven’t finished not from lack of interest or time but from the sheer mediocrity of the craft. There’s no questioning its impact in society or its scope of influence (or its massive sales), which is what I am guessing placed it on this list but in a list of “Best Books” I would put more weight on the actual quality of the book.

73 Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami (2005)

The stories of this Japanese master are sometimes little more than glimpses of a single image, a single moment — but so loaded with meaning that it speaks volumes.

The inclusion of Murakami’s collection of short stories doesn’t bother me because it is badly written or undeserving, it’s not and it is, but that it was included while Kafka on the Shore was not.  This is like making a best movies list with The Aviator at 72 and then no mention of Goodfellas.

The one entry I can’t argue with at all is Cormac McCarthy’s powerfully bleak narrative, The Road, topping the list.  It was one of those books that, from the moment it came out, was clearly a work of force. In the immortal words of Hunter Thompson, it stomped the earth.

Now to get around to finding all of the books from the list that I don’t have…

Sputnik Sweetheart – Review

August 4, 2009

Murakami excels when plumbing the depths of human loneliness and isolation while being surrounded by humanity.  In Sputnik Sweetheart, the narrator is known only as K.  He is a teacher who is madly in love with a woman two years younger than named Sumire. Sumire doesn’t reciprocate these feelings and later finds she wants to pursue a homosexual relationship with an older woman named Miu. Sumire comes to work for Miu and then disappears from a small Greek island while on a business/vacation trip with the older woman.

As with most Murakami stories, the attempts at a sexual life by the main character (and, as it turns out, all of the characters) is stunted, at best. At worst, the ability to have a sexual relationship is entirely missing. It’s probably worth noting that the one character who most fully overcomes their sexual shortcomings and even makes  a proactive attempt at finding a sexual life promptly disappears. 

There is a similar setup to Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. In an existence where the narrator’s life is literally split into two simultaneous halves, his sexual lives tend to culminate with going “underground” in some way to a strange and foreign place. Murakami seems to be forming a sort of equation where fully realizing your sexual fulfilment results in a distinct seperation from the conventional world – and at times it is leaving the conventional world that is required for this sexual fulfillment.

Still, this leads away a bit from the true essence of Sputnik Sweetheart. While sex, or the absence of sex, plays a large role in the story, it’s really a story that seems to revolve more around unrequited love and the isolation such love forces upon you. Miu, unable to enjoy sex-or equally share/build a relationship – because of an event from her youth, leads a life that substitutes independence for her isolation.  Meanwhile, K. has several sexual relationships but no real relationship because the one woman he desires and doesn’t have sex with is the only woman who seems to hold any interest for him on a deeper level.

Murakami is one of my favorite writers, so my opinion towards his work is slanted, but Sputnik Sweetheart is an entirely readable little novel that clocks in at around 200 pages. Like all Murakami works, it is something that can be read as superficially as you like but which has a surprising depth given its size and the deceptively simple construction. For summer fare it would make for leisurely reading on the beach or on vacation or, for those unfamiliar with Murakami works, a good introduction to him. For those familiar with Murakami, it makes for a quick jaunt into his universe and hits upon familiar themes and images.

Sputnik Sweetheart at Amazon

It just doesn’t feel right

February 9, 2009

I’ve been working on my short story turned too damn long project some more today. In a weird way it is frustrating because it is coming pretty easily so far. It’s strange that this would be frustrating but I had expected it to be a much shorter work, something I could turn out in a few days and then move on from but, instead, the thing is just flying along. I’ve broken the 10k word mark with ease and more of the story is unfolding in my head and making sense and all I wanted was some quick little thing I could send off.

What’s also frustratinng is that it feels so mundane.  That’s a bad thing for a writer to say but it’s true. This isn’t to say the story doesn’t seem interesting or the writing sucks. I like the story and I like what I have written so far. But I can tell it’s not great. I don’t see anything in it that really seperates it from the ton of other stuff that I read that I enjoy but then give to the used book store for credit. I love Haruki Murakami and Richard Brautigan and, occasionally, bits of Pynchon,  and Vonnegutt and a slew of others and they all have this quality that you can tell they are doing something remarkable with the page and the word.

Reading over what I am writing, thinking of where it is going, and it just doesn’t have those qualities. It’s unrealistic to expect them. These are truly great writers who are exceptional at their craft.  And I should be happy if I can just get this project finished and find an agent for it. But there is still a hope that I can do something that would make me feel like I belonged with the heroes of my literary world rather than taking up space at the used book store.