Sunday, October 2, 2011

Murakami Fanatic

I get it now.

I'm almost finished reading "Kafka on the Shore" by Haruki Murakami for the second time, and I like it better now than I did when I first read it. I got to thinking, This story reminds me of "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World," which is my favorite Murakami book, so why would I not like "Kafka on the Shore"? The only explanation I could come up with is that I had read "Kafka" before "Hard-Boiled Wonderland," which is exactly what happened.

I had the habit, not too long ago, of writing my name and the purchase date in every new book I acquired. There really was no reason behind it except for sentimentality upon reopening a book years down the line. I did that from my late teens until two years ago, when I made some bad purchases and was extremely sorry to have written my name inside these books that I did not want to keep. So I don't do it anymore. But I am glad that my Murakami books have been dated, because it proved my theory. Here's my list of Murakami books, arranged chronologically:

A Wild Sheep Chase 10/1/2003
Dance Dance Dance 5/2004
The Elephant Vanishes 11/21/2004
Kafka on the Shore 4/25/2005
After the Quake 5/4/2005
Sputnik Sweetheart 5/4/2005
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World 6/25/2007
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle 8/11/2007
After Dark 5/13/2008
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman 7/26/2008
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running 8/31/2008

I was caught off guard looking inside the cover of "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle." First, it was the first Murakami book I had ever read, by order of a college Literature teacher, so why was it labeled 2007, years after I had been in college? And second, why did it have my husband's initials, in his own handwriting, as opposed to my name written by my hand? Then I remembered: I had spent hours reading that book in the college library back in the day, because I had trouble finding money to eat, much less for buying books for a literature class. I had recommended the book to Senpai as an interesting read years later, and that's when HE purchased it and respectfully followed my silly OCD labeling conventions.

I am also reminded, looking back now, of how "Sputnik Sweetheart" became one of the many forces that helped me to finally break up with a boyfriend that I should not have spent so much time with. That whole year, I kept hearing an alarm going off in my head, actually sounding like an alarm clock, and I would repeatedly look at my cell phone, wondering if it was ringing. My head telling me to "Wake up!" I also had a very disturbing image of a bug being caught in a scabbed-up wound on my finger, and would stare at my finger, making sure it wasn't really there. Talk about "getting under one's skin." Finally, there was "Sputnik Sweetheart." A story that, when finished, left me feeling like something was missing. The happy ending, perhaps? The love that remained unrequited? I am glad the pieces all fell together and I took leave right when I needed to.

Getting back to the list, it appears I bought 2-3 books every year until I had caught up with his newest release. I do check the store every once in awhile to see if there's another one that I've missed. I just looked at his website. I'm missing "Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche," "South of the Border, West of the Sun," "Vintage Murakami," and "Norwegian Wood." The newest novel is "IQ84" to be released October 25th. I think I've found my next book purchases.



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