Monday, June 8, 2009


Two of my favorite pastimes from childhood: 

(1) whiling away the hours lost in a book (and, being the world's slowest reader, I can take care of a lot of hours with just one book)
(2) tumbling in the backyard (when I wasn't on the balance beam or sprinting toward the vaulting horse at the gym)

I wish I could still do those things, whenever I wanted.

Yesterday afternoon I spent a few hours in a grassy field, enjoying the sunshine and one of the Murakami novels I had picked up at the library the day before. There may have been a few handstands and cartwheels in there, too. It's hard to say for sure.

I just finished the book. It was my fifth Murakami title in just a couple of months (see note re: world's slowest reader, above). I have two more waiting for me on my bookshelf, and I intend to get my hands on all of his published (and translated—since I don't read Japanese) work before year's end. 

I'm addicted.

I could, if I tried, craft a passable explanation of why Haruki Murakami's narrative is so gripping. I could analyze his techniques of character development, explore the effects of his writing's structural and stylistic characteristics, offer a few examples of his especially inventive imagery, attempt to bring to light the underlying themes that are at once repulsive and magnetic, absurdly particular and painfully universal.

That's what I've been trained to do, after all.

But I won't.

Having an academic background in literary analysis helps me to appreciate more deeply the nuances of good writing, in other words, to wrap my head around the form of what I already sensed with my intuition. But one thing that's really nice about reading books outside of school is that I can just read them and enjoy them without having to explain to anyone else why I like them or, more precisely, how and/or why the author achieves the effect that he does with his writing. Ugh. See what I mean?

My point is: Murakami is a gem of a fiction writer. So far I love his work. You might not. And that's okay. And I won't ask you for a detailed analysis explaining why. But I'd say it's worth a try. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, as recommended to me, is a good one to start with.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

okay, okay

Every once in a while, when the planets are aligned just right... I go to relief society and, in spite of myself, find it a little bit wonderful.