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HOLY SHIT PEOPLE, IT'S NOT BAD ENOUGH WE'RE GETTING AN UTENA EXHIBITION RIGHT NOW

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#1 | Back to Top09-19-2013 10:50:31 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Haruki Murakami and the Goblet of Ennui

I don't present myself as the biggest Haruki Murakami fan on this forum.  I've only read three and a half of his books, while I know for a fact that at least five or six of you have read practically his entire output and probably put a lot more care into analyzing it*.  I'm just the one who, on Noktoartifice's suggestion, am making a thread about his books, partly in order to stop us from swamping the books thread with absolutely massive amounts of postmodern supernatural Japanese urban malaise.  emot-biggrin

* and/or making delighted http://ohtori.nu/forumstuff/emotes/emot-jerkbag.gif gestures while reading it.

If you have never read one of Murakami's novels and you think you might like to give him a try, I suggest starting with After Dark.  It's short, poignant, and I think fairly representative of what kind of mood Murakami is interested in.

Halfway through 1Q84 I still don't have Murakami Bingo (which mistspinner introduced the books thread to, to my delight).  I have 17 squares marked, but no five of them line up.*  I need there to be vanishing cats, ear fetishism, running, or urban ennui -- a common Murakami theme curiously absent from 1Q84 so far.  Possibly Murakami got tired of being pigeonholed?  When not filling out my bingo card, I have been astonished by what a page-turner of a novel this has turned out to be!  He does that thing where he continually strands you at a twist in one story in order to go focus on the other, and you're frustrated for about five seconds until you remember how much you were looking forward to getting back to the other story anyway.  And Jay Rubin's translation is incomparable as always.  There have only been a few moments so far where I've said "damn, I wish I could see what that said in the original."

* For comparison, the complete run of SKU has a Murakami bingo going down the right, with 15 squares marked total by my count.  Be-PaPas and Murakami seem to share some influences.

Join in!  Have you read any of Murakami's books?  What did you think?  Why do his books appeal to you (or not)?  And what makes you lol?

Last edited by satyreyes (09-21-2013 07:37:59 AM)

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#2 | Back to Top09-19-2013 11:37:27 PM

KillerxXxQueen
Snowdrop Lover
From: North Augusta, SC
Registered: 04-22-2009
Posts: 1760

Re: Haruki Murakami and the Goblet of Ennui

Oh noes! Not quite yet, but I'm going to be reading Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World this weekend. I'll be back to this thread after that. poptart


"Reason I know is only a drug and, as such, its effects are never permanent."
                                                         --Hope Mirrlees, Lud-in-the-Mist

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#3 | Back to Top09-20-2013 12:00:40 AM

Yasha
Bitch Queen
From: Edmonton, AB, Canada
Registered: 10-15-2006
Posts: 6018
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Re: Haruki Murakami and the Goblet of Ennui

I actually have read that one, and I really loved it. [And Haibane Renmei was actually based on parts of it, Yoshitoshi ABe said. I think Noktoartifice had mentioned the resemblance, so I wanted to confirm it.]


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#4 | Back to Top09-21-2013 12:38:54 AM

Valeli
Thorn of Death
Registered: 12-05-2006
Posts: 481
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Re: Haruki Murakami and the Goblet of Ennui

I like his books. I've read a whole bunch now.... I think the first I read was Wild Sheep Chase. The last I read was IQ84 (and it took me forever and a day after I finished reading that to get that Q was a fill in for kyu/nine... and then I felt really stupid).

I haven't tried to analyze any of his books as much as I could have. I just enjoy them as a way to get somewhere completely different now and then. I like reading them when I go on trips. He does a good job at lots of stuff, but I really like how he makes his dream-ish settings end up feeling real.

Edit: You know what really bothers me? And I wonder if this happens to many of you too, or if it's just a me problem.... A lot of these books I've read not /too/ long ago, and I enjoyed them a lot. But I don't remember them. Like, if I was asked to summarize Hard Boiled Wonder Land and the End of the World, or Kafka on the Shore, or a Wild Sheep Chase, or most of his other stuff I've read in the last year or two, I couldn't do it. I could come up with a few scenes I remember clearly. All of those have a few scenes that are still really vivid to me. Same with After Dark etc, etc. One of the fictional hotel bars he made has become like, my dream bar to compare reality against. And I also feel certain that if I started reading the books again I'd be all "oh, yeah, this is what happens". But basically I'm pulling blanks on all of them except for IQ84. And that has nothing to do with me having loved IQ84 much more than the others, or having paid a lot more attention to it, or anything like that. This really annoys me. I don't want to say it makes me think I wasted my time, because I know I enjoyed the reads. But it's like having an itch I can't scratch. I haven't read much non-murakami stuff lately, so I can't really say if it's a broader issue I have or one just related to him. It's (kind of) funny though, since his works are so dream like, and this is the exact same thing that happens with me and real dreams, where they fragment once I wake up, leaving really vivid memories of one or two brief instances, and no recollection of the rest beyond some attached emotion.

Anyways, I'm glad to see this thread and (re)see the more general book thread. I'm going on a mini-vacation in November, and have a feeling that thread will be a great place to find an interesting read or two.

Last edited by Valeli (09-22-2013 03:48:52 PM)

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#5 | Back to Top09-22-2013 09:55:51 AM

Honey Bear
Sunlit Gardener (Prelude)
From: England
Registered: 08-01-2011
Posts: 173
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Re: Haruki Murakami and the Goblet of Ennui

Murakami fan here. I haven't read all his books yet because they're so much about alienation and loneliness that I have to be in the right mood to read them. Sputnik Sweetheart is my favourite by him, mainly because I so emotionally connected with what he was saying. For the same reason, I find it really hard book to reread!

Yasha wrote:

I actually have read that one, and I really loved it. [And Haibane Renmei was actually based on parts of it, Yoshitoshi ABe said. I think Noktoartifice had mentioned the resemblance, so I wanted to confirm it.]

[ I watched Haibane Renmei before I read that one, so I spent the whole book thinking, 'this reminds me so much that show!'  .]

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#6 | Back to Top09-22-2013 08:16:17 PM

Yasha
Bitch Queen
From: Edmonton, AB, Canada
Registered: 10-15-2006
Posts: 6018
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Re: Haruki Murakami and the Goblet of Ennui

Valeli wrote:

Edit: You know what really bothers me? And I wonder if this happens to many of you too, or if it's just a me problem.... A lot of these books I've read not /too/ long ago, and I enjoyed them a lot. But I don't remember them. Like, if I was asked to summarize Hard Boiled Wonder Land and the End of the World, or Kafka on the Shore, or a Wild Sheep Chase, or most of his other stuff I've read in the last year or two, I couldn't do it. I could come up with a few scenes I remember clearly. All of those have a few scenes that are still really vivid to me. Same with After Dark etc, etc. One of the fictional hotel bars he made has become like, my dream bar to compare reality against. And I also feel certain that if I started reading the books again I'd be all "oh, yeah, this is what happens". But basically I'm pulling blanks on all of them except for IQ84. And that has nothing to do with me having loved IQ84 much more than the others, or having paid a lot more attention to it, or anything like that. This really annoys me. I don't want to say it makes me think I wasted my time, because I know I enjoyed the reads. But it's like having an itch I can't scratch. I haven't read much non-murakami stuff lately, so I can't really say if it's a broader issue I have or one just related to him. It's (kind of) funny though, since his works are so dream like, and this is the exact same thing that happens with me and real dreams, where they fragment once I wake up, leaving really vivid memories of one or two brief instances, and no recollection of the rest beyond some attached emotion.

It's not just you. This happens to me too with Murakami books-- all the more odd because I have an excellent memory for books. Seriously, I can read something and almost quote passages for the next three months. Longer than that, and I can still remember distinct scenes. I remember books that I read in the third grade-- admittedly not vividly, but I could probably find and recognize them today if I wanted to try.

Murakami books? No. Just... emotions, and mental images I had while reading them, with vague snippets of passages I found remarkable. I loved Hard Boiled Wonderland, and I honestly couldn't tell you what happened in that book.

I know this isn't an issue with reading Japanese books either, because I can remember most of the ones I've read vividly. I don't read much Japanese literature, it's not generally to my taste. Battle Royale and Murakami books are the exception to that rule. Still, I don't remember Murakami well at all, and it's exceeedingly odd for that to happen to me.

Valeli wrote:

Anyways, I'm glad to see this thread and (re)see the more general book thread. I'm going on a mini-vacation in November, and have a feeling that thread will be a great place to find an interesting read or two.

Just don't read that Orson Scott Card space worm sex book. Unless you want to WTF really hard.

Honey Bear wrote:

Yasha wrote:

I actually have read that one, and I really loved it. [And Haibane Renmei was actually based on parts of it, Yoshitoshi ABe said. I think Noktoartifice had mentioned the resemblance, so I wanted to confirm it.]

[ I watched Haibane Renmei before I read that one, so I spent the whole book thinking, 'this reminds me so much that show!'  .]

That was actually the reason I read the book despite my general distaste for Japanese literature (strangely, I don't like western poetry much, but I love Japanese poetry...). I'm really glad I decided to give it a shot.


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#7 | Back to Top09-24-2013 12:31:16 AM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Haruki Murakami and the Goblet of Ennui

Just finished 1Q84!  (And spoilers follow.)

It didn't end like I expected!  I was expecting something inconclusive, bittersweet, or at least vaguely melancholy.  Instead, the ending was quiet, sentimental, and almost uniformly happy, at least for our principals.  Murakami protagonists finding happiness?!  I almost feel like I must have cheated.

Thinking back, I feel like the whole third book was like that -- quiet and slow almost to the point of being thin, without ever being dull, almost like Murakami forgot what the plot was supposed to be.  Aomame spends most of it sitting on a balcony staring at a slide.  Tengo spends most of it with his dying dad rather than doing anything related to Air Chrysalis or Aomame, preferring to almost have sex with someone who may or may not be the reincarnation of his mother.  The work of developing their relationship is done mostly by Uchikawa, a character I ended up loving.  And even though I feel like Uchikawa saves the third book from collapsing into its own vacuum, I wondered whether there was really no more work for Fuka-Eri or Professor Ebisuno or Sakigake in general to do.  In moderation I don't mind unresolved conflicts or unfired Chekhov's Guns, but the rapidly changing cast of characters and stakes confused me as to why the third book was part of the same novel as the first two.  It reminded me of Penguindrum's treatment of Ringo.

But it's only the last book that I feel a bit tepid about, and even then, it's not because that book is weak in itself but because I felt like it lost the thread of the big plot.  I liked the first two books a lot.

Valeli wrote:

The last I read was IQ84 (and it took me forever and a day after I finished reading that to get that Q was a fill in for kyu/nine... and then I felt really stupid).

I figured this out pretty fast -- though not until after I started the book.  It took me much longer to figure out that maza and dohta are not arbitrary nonsense words.

My bingo card has 21 out of 25 squares marked.  Unmarked are dried-up well, faceless villain, vanishing cats, and (oddly) running.  I could make a case for vanishing cats.

Last edited by satyreyes (09-24-2013 12:44:43 AM)

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#8 | Back to Top09-25-2013 07:29:01 PM

KillerxXxQueen
Snowdrop Lover
From: North Augusta, SC
Registered: 04-22-2009
Posts: 1760

Re: Haruki Murakami and the Goblet of Ennui

Okay I'm back! Wonderland was an odd book to read, and not really due to the oddness of the storyline(s). I had a pretty good guess as to the relationship of the two stories, but in retrospect, I spent more time frustrated about irrelevant details that by the time I got to page 270 (the big, revelatory explanation that develops (of course, just my opinion) a far-too-complicated reason for everything that's happened up to that point), I didn't really care that much about the 130 pages I hadn't gotten to yet. The ending didn't matter to me anymore, all I wanted to do was pick apart every single correlation between the parallel worlds because EVERYTHING suddenly seemed way more important than [ going through all of the main character's last moments in his reality. ] Except possibly the INKlings. Seriously, for the love of god, can someone help me understand what they even are? All I ever really understood was that they were disgusting and terrifying and helping the Semiotecs in their illegal data-laundering...somehow. Did I miss something really important, or are they just another detail of the world the narrator lives in?

But that world with its unicorns and the Wall and all of its small details felt so much more interesting, so better constructed that I really needed to know what happened with it. And really, thinking about it that way, if the narrator had been aware of what this other world was like, would his choice have changed? Did he get to make a choice, or was his fate sealed [the moment the Professor selected him for the study]? I'm still in the musing phase of this particular book-hangover, and I'll probably think something completely different by the time I get back to this thread.

So most of what I take away from this book: Unicorns!!!
Things absent from Murakami bingo: Dried-up well, cats (as well as speaking to cats and vanishing cats), Chip Kidd cover, unusual name (unless you count no names at all and referring to one of the characters as "chubby girl")--Bingo down the fourth column if my argument for "faceless villain" stands.


"Reason I know is only a drug and, as such, its effects are never permanent."
                                                         --Hope Mirrlees, Lud-in-the-Mist

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#9 | Back to Top03-18-2015 05:40:35 AM

Snow
Troublesome Insect
From: in the wolf
Registered: 09-30-2013
Posts: 642

Re: Haruki Murakami and the Goblet of Ennui

In a similar vein, The Murakami Pie

http://s1.postimg.org/65d7o1xrj/240202.jpg

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#10 | Back to Top03-20-2015 10:50:17 AM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8731
Website

Re: Haruki Murakami and the Goblet of Ennui

I typically have a shit memory for books. I actually try to keep up a list of books I've read with little summaries because otherwise I can forget I read a book in the first place. I'm surprised to see people mentioning Murakami's forgetfulness potion writing style, because it hit me like a truck. I've read not so many of his novels, but I've read his short stories and Underground, the book about the Saran gas attack. (A great read in any event, but super great if you enjoyed Pengruindrum at all.) Underground stuck just fine because it's largely interviews and then a shockingly acidic commentary at the end. (I've learned that for such a strict society, when someone's outspoken in Japan they don't fuck around, it's like spewing battery acid.) After Dark stuck quite well also. But everything else sticks in thoughts and mindsets the book carried, like Yasha said. I suspect that's his intention with the way he writes.

Do others that read a lot of Japanese fiction experience this? Because I wouldn't pretend to be SUPAR WELL READ or anything, but the Japanese writing style does seem to focus more on creating a mood or impression than plot details and character development. Kobo Abe's Woman in the Dunes is a great example of this. I remember like nothing of the plot but I remember the oppressive and hopeless feel of the setting.

The way Murakami has bingo and pie charts reminds me a lot of another author, Samuel Delany. Writes some absolutely stunning sci-fi but god help him he can't avoid Greenwich Village hippie music references to save his life. No one seems to punish Murakami in Japan for these repeated themes, but it makes me wonder how well he'd be received on a larger scale here. He definitely has a huge following but whenever I see the signs of it its among hipsters. Is that his target audience in Japan, too, I wonder?


Also, do thou wear thine suits and cuffs, be thee male or no, for such attire doth please my girl parts. - Gios 3:15
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#11 | Back to Top03-20-2015 04:51:09 PM

mistspinner
Ohtori Paramouri
Registered: 08-10-2013
Posts: 92

Re: Haruki Murakami and the Goblet of Ennui

Oddly enough, I remember Murakami books fairly well? But I think that's because I had a job where I was working with books/media, so I had to revisit them lately. But I could definitely see the atmosphere thing going on - when you some of the books down, outwardly it doesn't seem like a lot happened, but there's a lot of philosophical weight behind each of the things that happened.

Murakami reminds me of auteur theory in film - i.e, the theory that film directors have a particular take on the world and certain themes that reoccurs throughout their work. It doesn't apply to every artist, of course, but I see a bit of it in certain creators (Ikuhara and his things with childhood trauma and incest, for example). I think Murakami's one of those authors, and sometimes it's nice to pick up a Murakami book and know you'll be getting a Murakami book. Other times, I think it's possible to binge yourself on too much of the same thing, whether it be a certain writer or just a certain genre - dystopias with teenaged protagonists, for example. Like loving chocolate but suddenly getting a craving for fruit. But maybe that's just me?

As far as reputation goes, I hear that while Murakami's pretty popular, his reputation among the literati is a little more dicey. Haven't studied much into it, but it seems he's a bit of an oddity in Japanese literature, possibly because of the heavy Western influence in his books? Idk ._.

Samuel Delaney - oh boy. I started with Dhalgren, and if I made a pie chart of that book, a third would be dedicated to "orgies." Really long, not that hot descriptions of orgies. That's how much I remember of it, though the prose was really nice and I KNOW he's a brilliant writer and all. I just...am a little too intimidated to start another book of his D:

Edited to add this, which is still my favorite buzzfeed quiz of all time. Loner salaryman with impeccable tastes here!
http://www.buzzfeed.com/kevintang/which … u#42kha4g1

Last edited by mistspinner (03-20-2015 04:52:08 PM)

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#12 | Back to Top03-21-2015 06:34:49 AM

Snow
Troublesome Insect
From: in the wolf
Registered: 09-30-2013
Posts: 642

Re: Haruki Murakami and the Goblet of Ennui

You know how some songs have a 'hartbeat rhythm', and are arguably more catchy than other songs? That's close to my experience of reading Murakami. His pacing is somehow organic and attuned to the speed with which I process things I read. There's no rushing the plot towards a climax, no holdups. I could say that reading Murakami in English is perhaps the most natural reading experience I've ever had ( I tried reading in Croatian and the feel is completely different ).
And there's this ever present atmosphere of awkwardness that I find very endearing and relatable.

I'd say his appeal is the opposite of hipsterish. He's easy to read and differs from other authors in ways that are not edgy and avant-garde, but much more subtle. Not someone you'd get a smug sense of superiority for reading, anyway, at least with the realism part of his magical realism opus.

edit: I got: Talking Animal Who Tells Strangers That Their Mothers Don’t Love Them

Last edited by Snow (03-21-2015 06:36:47 AM)

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#13 | Back to Top03-21-2015 07:51:16 AM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
Website

Re: Haruki Murakami and the Goblet of Ennui

I got Foxy Older Mentor Living In A Decrepit Country Inn.  I think they nailed it.  emot-rofl

I definitely share the experience of some folks in this thread when it comes to Murakami stories slipping out of my mind after I'm through with them.  I think Gio nailed it: his talent is creating a mindset or tone, and the actual events are secondary to that, or at least less memorable.  I can't clearly summarize Norwegian Wood for you, but I certainly remember how I felt while reading it, and it wasn't the same way I felt while reading After Dark or Tsukuru Tazaki or 1Q84, though it wasn't an unrelated feeling, either.

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#14 | Back to Top03-21-2015 07:24:54 PM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8731
Website

Re: Haruki Murakami and the Goblet of Ennui

mistspinner wrote:

Samuel Delaney - oh boy. I started with Dhalgren, and if I made a pie chart of that book, a third would be dedicated to "orgies." Really long, not that hot descriptions of orgies. That's how much I remember of it, though the prose was really nice and I KNOW he's a brilliant writer and all. I just...am a little too intimidated to start another book of his D:

Ah holy shit talk about starting on the wrong foot. emot-gonk Try and work up the courage!! I strongly recommend Empire Star/Babel-17. They're two novellas that I think are almost always sold as a single volume, and both are absolutely amazing books. Babel-17 is the more 'normal' one, about a language developed as a weapon (essentially a story about theSapir–Whorf hypothesis.) The other, which I love more, is a recursive story. If you survived Dhalgren this should be easy for you, though, and a component of the book is how people's thoughts and behaviors can be broken into simplex, complex, and multiplex. It's really great stuff.

He is pretty into his orgies and weird sex though. emot-rolleyes

satyreyes wrote:

I got Foxy Older Mentor Living In A Decrepit Country Inn.  I think they nailed it.  emot-rofl

I got this, too. I didn't think it fit at first but the more I think about it, the more that's definitely the right one for me. I realized it the moment I equated it with the older wiser figure in every Woody Allen movie. And the more I think of it, the more Woody Allen and Murakami have in common as artists. A lot of thematic repetition in their works, and a certain array of characters that tend to appear often despite being almost unbelievably eccentric.

Snow, it's funny you say that! I've always been accused of like master level hipsterism whenever I mention Murakami. emot-frown


Also, do thou wear thine suits and cuffs, be thee male or no, for such attire doth please my girl parts. - Gios 3:15
Chiefest of Calamities

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#15 | Back to Top03-23-2015 07:09:31 PM

mistspinner
Ohtori Paramouri
Registered: 08-10-2013
Posts: 92

Re: Haruki Murakami and the Goblet of Ennui

Giovanna wrote:

I strongly recommend Empire Star/Babel-17. They're two novellas that I think are almost always sold as a single volume, and both are absolutely amazing books.

Ooh, I think I actually have those somewhere as PDFs somewhere! I'll check them out. I just have to finish the oh, you know, five other books I'm working on at the moment D:

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