Sunday, August 27, 2017

Learning Dispatch - August 27th 2017 - On Reading Murakami


I spent some time reading two short story collections by the Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami. The titles of the books were, 'Men without Women' (2016) and 'Blind Willow, Sleeping Women' (2006). A close friend had recommended picking up some of his work after she read his novel, 'The Wind Up Bird Chronicle'. I was first introduced to Murakami through his memoir about writing titled, 'What I Think About, When I Talk About Running' that described his passion for running. I once read a quote by him that said that his writing largely depended on Characterization, Dialogues and Description. I wanted to get a glimpse into his world and I thought short stories was a good way to get started. He commented on his love for the form as follows in a piece about his earlier short story collection, 

"I find writing novels a challenge, writing stories a joy. If writing novels is like planting a forest, then writing short stories is more like planting a garden."

Hmm. I had nothing to lose. I'd read these stories in my free on most evenings after work. Just get started. If you don't like his narrative style go to the next short story. You don't have to be completely invested in the characters. Short stories give you the luxury to come in and then go out and then come in again. I liked that about this form.

In Men without Women (2016)the stories revolve around themes that are very similar to the title of the book as described in the synopsis, 'Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to hear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone.' The characters really hold on to your curious imagination. You want to know, what happens next. Dr Tokai, in the short story, 'An Independent Organ' is a plastic surgeon that refuses to commit to a long term relationship. Kafuku, in the short story, 'Drive my Car' is a man who remembers his dead wife and discusses these memories with the driver who he has hired to take him around town.

In Blind Willow, Sleeping Women (2006)is Murakami's third short story collection published ten years earlier. In the short story titled 'Ice Man', Murakami narrates the story of a woman that falls in love with a man made of Ice at a ski resort. In the 'Birthday Girl', he writes about the life of a waitress working in a high end restaurant in downtown Tokyo and her interaction with a mysterious boss who stays in a flat in the same building.

What is Murakami to me? This quote does a good job to represent my thinking about Murakami at this point of time, "I sometimes think that people's hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what is at the bottom. All you can do is imagine by what comes floating to the surface every once in a while."


I got to see a few films over the past two weeks. The two films I personally enjoyed the most were 'Death in the Gunj' and 'Bombay Summer'. Death in the Gung, is Konkona Sen Sharma's directorial debut and it chronicles the story a family vacation in Mcloskie Gunj that goes rogue. Watch out for the antics of Shutu (note to self: refrain from giving to many spoilers Abhishek). Bombay Summer (2009) is a film about three working professionals in Mumbai, a graphic designer, a drug dealer/artist and an aspiring writer that come together during one Bombay Summer. The drug dealer's entrance into their lives further complicates the already strained relationship that the writer has with the graphic designer.


I've been listening to some Carnatic Music on the Darbar Music Festival's, Youtube Channel. I am quite the amateur but Jayanthi Kumaresh's instrumental videos are a delight to watch. I was looking for a good introductory lecture/talk to Carnatic Music and came across this 3 part series by TM Krishna on 'Creativity and Improvisation in Carnatic Music' that I highly recommend (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Also listen to this video demonstration from the channel by Pandit Niladari Kumar on 'What is Raga?'

August 27th, 2016

No comments:

Post a Comment