“My mother had drummed it into me from childhood that you shouldn’t bother people at home when it was time to have a meal. For better or for worse, this had seeped into my being and become a reflexive habit.” — Murakami, First Person Singular, (p. 59)
Murakami has been a Beatles fan for a long time (remember his book titled Norwegian Wood). The story titled “With the Beatles” contains memories of Beatles music from the narrator’s adolescence, when the Beatles were releasing their famous songs. But it’s a very sad story about growing old — to summarize it quite crudely. And it doesn’t even have any magical realism, just sadness. The strangest thing is that I recognized my own past just a bit in the story, which I usually don’t do in Murakami. For example, the sentence at the top of this review about his mother’s principle of leaving when someone is about to eat: my mother drummed exactly the same thing into my head when I was growing up.
The New York Times reviewer, David Means, writes of this collection:
“Whatever you want to call Murakami’s work — magic realism, supernatural realism — he writes like a mystery tramp, exposing his global readership to the essential and cosmic (yes, cosmic!) questions that only art can provoke: What does it mean to carry the baggage of identity? Who is this inside my head in relation to the external, so-called real world? Is the person I was years ago the person I am now? Can a name be stolen by a monkey?”
Murakami’s novels are often too long. This collection is too short.
Review © 2021 mae sander.
I (finally) read my first Murakami last month - 1Q84 #1 and was at the same time at loss but captivated, I want to read more from here (I've got #2 and 3 already). Thank you for sharing, especially about the Beatles that mean a lot to me. English is not my first language, but if I have a blog in English, read in English and all that, it's thanks to the Beatles - and my sister who brought their records in our home :)
As usual, I do love reading your reviews.
Sometimes it's good to be left wanting more. I was also taught that phone calls are not acceptable at meal times, after 9pm and early on Sunday mornings.
This is another great review, Mae. I wish telemarketers would follow that advice. It seems they tend to call just at the time one is sitting down to an evening meal.
I need to try one of these books - sounds VERY interesting - thanks for sharing!!!
I love this author. I wish books were cheaper...
I just finished Before the Coffee Gets Cold, probably the first Japanese book I have really enjoyed. It must be a cultural thing for me. I am now ready to move forward and check out some new ones. Thanks for sharing this title. Short stories might be a good way to go forward.
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