Thursday, January 7, 2010

Reading again

I've started reading again. I ran out of books about six months ago and have never found the time to go to Kinokuniya to get more. I kept thinking I'd find that copy of Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five that has disappeared in my lounge. I suspect I've accidentally lent it to someone or it is languishing underneath the couch.

After procrastinating for such a long time I gave Haruki Murakami a go. I'd been put off by his chic minimalist covers, thinking that significant work could not possibly require such stylish covers - I was surprised. His work is very good. Leon proposed I start with Dance, Dance, Dance because that's the most linear and 'normal' out of all his novels.

It is enthralling.

His world is a Tokyo that I sort of know - I know the places, have been there and done similar walks to the protagonist. He 'shovels cultural snow', his term for writing commercial drivel, and made me wonder if I shovelled chemical snow for what I do for a living.

Dance, dance, dance describes a dreamlike world connecting all the unconnected parts of our world. A type of subconscious switchboard allowing us to make meaning out of meaningless acts in the real world. Murakami writes famously on themes of loneliness, isolation and alienation and some of his matter-of-fact descriptions are so poignant I almost cried:
There's nothing left here. Not one thing left for you.

I clamped my lips tight and stared at the bottle of soy sauce on the counter.

You live by yourself for a stretch of time and you get to staring at different objects. Sometimes you talk to yourself. You take meals in crowded joints. You develop an intimate relationship with your used Subaru. You slowly but surely become a has-been.
I don't know if it's because I'm currently living alone and take meals in crowded joints; however I don't own a car nor stare fixedly at mundane objects - I felt immediate connection to his descriptions of alienation and loneliness. He's described something I've felt at times but never been able to put my finger on. He's described what I feel others I know are going through.

Towards the end of the book he starts cooking more. This also inspired me, in fact it inspired tonight's dinner: Bacon and cherry tomato spaghetti; Tofu, sweet corn and lettuce salad with Japanese dressing.

The interconnectedness through the subconscious ethereal world is so all-permeating I start questioning my own world. Murakami introduces the father of a character, Hiraku Makimura - an anagram on his own name. I begin to wonder if the dreamscape he describes has started seeping into my own reality - I'm currently listening to an American-Japanese singer Hikaru Utada (Haruki, Hiraku, Hikaru).

Closing the book I'm too sensitive to the sounds of the night at 1:30am. The slightest clink could be a door in the hotel corridoor opening. The shush of curtains the shuffling of the Sheep Man's feet.

I hesitate opening my door. I'm afraid it will open out into blackness.