Self realizes that she hadn’t quite reached the end of Murakami’s Spaghetti story. Why then is she starting to quote from another one?
Furthermore, why this story, when during the most recent Foothill Writers Conference, in July, after self had handed out copies to a packed room and began to read it aloud, a conference participant raised her hand and said: “What on earth do you see in a story like that?”
Self was struck — and vastly amused — by the woman’s candor. She asked the woman to explain what her objection was to the story. “First of all,” the woman said, “I don’t believe a word of it. Who doesn’t remember her own name?”
Yes, that’s precisely it, self wanted to say. Who doesn’t remember her own name? That’s how the reader knows right away that this story has to be a fable. Yet it is told so matter-of-factly. It is an “anti-magical realist” fable.
This is what self adores about Murakami.
Here are the story’s first two paragraphs:
She sometimes had trouble remembering her own name. Usually this happened when someone unexpectedly asked what it was. She’d be at a boutique, getting the sleeves of a dress altered, and the saleswoman would say, “Your name, Ma’am?” and her mind would go blank. The only way she could remember it was to pull out her driver’s license, which was bound to seem weird to the person she was talking to. Even if she was on the phone when it happened, the awkward silence as she rummaged through her purse inevitably made the person at the other end wonder what was going on.
She could remember everything else. She never forgot the names of the people around her. Her address, phone number, birthday, and passport number were no problem at all. She could rattle off her friends’ phone numbers, and the numbers of important clients. And when she was the one who brought up her name she never had any trouble remembering it. As long as she knew in advance what to expect, her memory was fine. But when she was in a hurry or unprepared, it was as if a circuit had been broken. The more she struggled, the clearer it became that she couldn’t, for the life of her, remember what she was called.