The Murakami Project: Danny G. Reviews ‘after the quake’

The Murakami Project: Each week leading up to October 25th, the on-sale date of Haruki Murakami’s long-awaited 1Q84 in its English translation, a different BookPerson will review one of Murakami’s previous titles. Folks who haven’t read Murakami yet can familiarize themselves with what the book world will be buzzing about come October (and maybe discover a new favorite book), and established fans can remember why they fell in love with him in the first place.

Week 6.

____________________________

Book: after the quake
Reviewed by:
Danny G.

after the quake (written in lowercase as per Murakami’s wishes) is a collection of six short stories that relate , however peripherally, to an earthquake-ravaged Kobe in Japan.  The reader does not get, as this reader expected, a direct account of families or individuals devastated by the earthquake’s aftermath.  Murakami’s various characters are instead indirectly affected by the quake as when, in the story entitled “UFO in Kushiro”, the protagonist’s wife decides to mysteriously depart (a favorite plot device of Murakami’s) after sitting quietly in front of the television set watching footage of the earthquake’s aftermath for days on end.  The protagonist in “Honey Pie” finally proposes to the love of his life after the quake reveals to him the delicateness of life.

The book is good, it is fun and, like all Murakami’s books this reader has read so far, it lends itself to being read while sipping on coffee or tea, listening to Bach on low volume, cooking spaghetti in the kitchen (preferably while still listening to Bach), and reclining on a comfortable couch (or sprawling haphazardly, as this reader does, on one of those hanging net chairs as it twirls slowly, hypnotically, in circles).  Murakami hits all the notes you expect him to hit and yet, despite this, after the quake, more pamphlet than book after all, doesn’t fully satisfy.  Murakami is a master of the long, sustained story, which is why this reader couldn’t help feeling that his shorter pieces read like the literary equivalent of (scrumptious) appetizers.  after the quake is worth reading nonetheless if only because it provides a nibble of the strange, pleasant eeriness Murakami is capable of in his longer works, masterpieces like, A Wind Up Bird Chronicle, Hard Boiled Wonderland, and, I expect, 1Q84.

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