Murakami Sentence of the Day

Even when self isn’t particularly taken by a Murakami story, there is always a take-away.

This story was written in the Jurassic period. Records in jackets? And none of Murakami’s characters use e-mail or text-messaging. Nevertheless:

  • The dwarf would take half-played records off the turntable, throw them onto the pile without returning them to their jackets, lose track of which went with which, and afterward put records in jackets at random.

— from “The Dancing Dwarf,” Story # 14 in The Elephant Vanishes

“A Window” by Haruki Murakami

Self decided to start reading this story (Story # 11 in Murakami’s The Elephant Vanishes) because a reader on Goodreads called it “boring.” She’s not reading in order. Which is the neat thing about short story collections: you can totally cherry-pick.

It is the most ordinary of Murakami’s seemingly ordinary stories, it’s about the perfect hamburger, what do you know, and it begins with one word:

GREETINGS

Any story that opens like that holds promise.

A few pages in, there is this:

  • I realize now that the reality of things is not something you convey to people but something you make. It is this that gives birth to meaning.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Typical Conversation If Married to a Dentist: Story # 5 in THE ELEPHANT VANISHES

Self has no memory of reading any of the stories (except for the one about cooking spaghetti), how odd. If ever a book demanded close reading, it is this one. Each sentence has a precise and very unpredictable effect. For instance, one sentence can say, “I’m going to kill myself tomorrow” and the next sentence will be something like “So I settled on the couch to watch a game show.”

She is totally in awe of Murakami’s unwavering commitment to the absurd.

  • I didn’t want to think about plaque on people’s teeth, and I especially didn’t want to hear or think about it while I was eating.

The next sentence is about how the narrator wishes she could just resume reading — of all things — Anna Karenina instead of listening to her husband.

Oh of course! Anna Karenina throws herself in front of a train; is Murakami implying that the wife would throw herself in front of a train if she has to spend another minute listening to her husband talk about plaque removal?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Murakami Throws Shade on Ugly Dentist

Story # 5 of The Elephant Vanishes: Sleep

(Murakami writes from a woman’s point of view in this one. Self found the effect a bit startling at first)

“I know why you’ve got so many patients,” I always say to him. “It’s because you’re such a good-looking guy.”

This is our little joke. He’s not good-looking at all. Actually, he’s kind of strange-looking. Even now I wonder why I married such a strange-looking man.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Welcome to Self’s Apocalypse

Got a rejection from Oxford American today. Nevertheless.

Self has decided to submit a short story collection to a contest.

Story # 1: The Departure

The Situation:  A mom says good-bye to her son, who’s on his way to a college on the coast. Not five minutes after she waves good-bye and re-enters her house, the world ends. The woman wakes up to find that the roof of her house has cracked wide open, and nothing’s working. She decides to check in with a neighbor across the street, who invites her to share some cake (Did self say yet that she writes dark fiction?)

They each took a chair and faced each other across the kitchen table, the cake between them. The cat was still on Julietta’s lap but seemed to show no interest in food. She simply lay there, as if comatose. Through Mrs. Bautista’s kitchen window, Julietta thought she saw wisps of clouds moving backwards. Far off, somewhere, she imagined a whole bevy of airplanes were getting ready to scramble.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

#amreading THE ELEPHANT VANISHES, by Haruki Murakami

Self has read this book before, apparently (See blog dating 20____). But the only story she remembers is the one about making spaghetti.

Now, this go-round, she is finding the book a lot of fun. She doesn’t remember it being as much fun the first time.

Story # 3: The Kangaroo Communiqué

Shall I put it on the line?

I want to be able to be in two places at once. That is my one and only wish. Other than that, there’s not a thing I desire.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Laszlo Krasznahorkai, SEIOBO THERE BELOW

It’s the quote that begins the last story, Screaming Beneath the Earth, p. 447:

We ask nothing of the dragons, and the dragons ask nothing of us.

— Zi Chan

Self finds these quotes pretty droll. For instance, the one that begins The Preservation of the Buddha is “For the greater glory of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.” The entire story is about the Buddha and there is nothing, literally nothing about Jesus Christ.

Krasznahorkai, you savage troll. Not only do you put misleading quotes at the beginning of each story, you force us to read 50-page sentences. How dare you.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Also #amreading Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s SEIOBO THERE BELOW

Seiobo There Below is her first Krasznahorkai (translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet), and she can’t believe she didn’t know before that this author is known for writing sentences that go on for as long as 50 pages.

From Story # 6 (Which appears in the Table of Contents as Story # 13, like we’re being punked by the author. Punked, punked, punked!), He Rises at Dawn.

(P.S. If you want to know more about Japanese temples, and that stillness of being which is only possible for true adherents of Buddha or Zen Mind, this book is for you)

  • He rises at dawn; more or less the same time as the birds; he is a bad sleeper, only falling asleep is easy for him — in the evenings this happens quite often, although afterward there are frequent startled awakenings, where he’s drenched in sweat, worn out from a dream, and it goes on like this till dawn, when finally the skies begin to turn greay in the neighborhood of Kita . . .

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Dystopia: Tyrone Guthrie Centre, 2014

Self is trying to put together a collection. Which involves a laboriously slow process of selection. It is nice, though, re-reading stuff.

from Spores:

(Set in the far future. Very, very, very far. Society’s divided into classes:  Earthstar, Silverleaf, Shag, and Common. The main characters are a pair of lab workers named K and R. K is a girl, R is a boy. The story’s told from R’s point of view)

“We be needing foxes,” I said once.

“You lousy hedgehog,” the boss said, giving me a good one. My right eye swelled up almost immediately.

“You not be asking me to fetch, you lousy Common!” He gave me another good one on the way out.

K trembling there in the corner.

The voice was birthed while eavesdropping at the dinner table in Annaghmakerrig.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

More Friends: An Ever-Shifting Panoply

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is FRIENDS.

Which is a very fun theme!

  • Nutschell Ann Windsor, Program Administrator, UCLA Extension Writers Program (She writes, too!)
  • Keith Tuma, Director of Miami University Press, which published self’s Mayor of the Roses, the first in their fiction series
  • Amy Toland at last year’s AWP Book Fair in Los Angeles
  • Irene Lacson, niece and travel buddy

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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