Book to Basics #13 Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami

I love Vintage Book titles!

I am a huge fan of Haruki Murakami. My first experience of his "lyrical" works is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I read it because a good friend of mine told me that one of the character's name was same as mine, Kumiko. Since I have yet to meet another person named Kumiko, though I know you're all out there, meeting a fictional Kumiko was the next best thing for me. I settled with Murakami's made-up Kumiko. I'm really glad I did.

Then I read Sputnik Sweetheart, A Wild Sheep Chase, The Elephant Vanishes, Dance Dance Dance and most recently, I bawled my eyes out over Norwegian Wood--which incidentally will have a movie adaptation set for a release in Japan, at least, by December 2010. You can check out the trailer below.

To add up to hopefully my improving list of read Murakami titles, I included in my Japanese book review series Murakami's short-story collection, Blind Willow Sleeping Woman. It is a collection of 24 short stories, some of which I would special mention in this post. Personally though, I prefer Murakami's novels. He has this very unique way with words. He makes music out of silent paper. When I read his novels, it's like listening to an orchestra. Each score is magical: everything's drawn from strong emotion which likewise captivates readers strongly and emotionally. 

On the other hand, his short stories are like song melodies. Easy to finish, hard to forget. Among the short stories in Blind Willow Sleeping Woman, here are my top favorites. I would read them over and over and not feel a bit tired of repeating--reliving--the tales.

A Folklore for My Generation (p 61-83)
Among the many things that Murakami is an expert at it's telling stories about sex. His command with words give so much meaning and substance to what some fail to extend from just being something erotic or casual. Murakami has a very sexual and passionate treatment of, well, sexual topics. His characters are always very deep when it comes to tackling anything sexual and the discussions his characters are involved in, whether inter or intra-personal are always moving and graceful. A Folklore for My Generation is definitely one of the best reads you can find in Blind Willow Sleeping Woman. 

The Seventh Man (p 163-177)
Here's an interesting quote that will surely make you want to skip some stories to read The Seventh Man.
"They tell us that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, but I don't believe that. Oh the fear is there, all right. It comes to us in many different forms, at different times, and overwhelm us. But the frightening thing we can do at such times is to turn our backs on it, to close our eyes. For then we take the most precious thing inside us and surrender it to something else. In my case, that something was the wave."

The Ice Man (p 209-218)
If you want to read a story about how love comes in different forms, how it evolves and how it changes many things in people, in life, in the decisions people make and in the direction life takes these people empowered or imprisoned by love then The Ice Man would keep you turning pages as if you're under a trance. Murakami's subtext-rich lines are at its best in The Ice Man. Reading the story made me want to go see an aurora myself, however the sadness of going alone left the desire frozen. 

Tony Takitani (p 184-203)
The story entitled Tony Takitani is my favorite, or have I said that for the stories I mentioned earlier? Anyway, I found Tony Takitani so refreshing and light despite the fact that it talked about how the main character, Tony Takitani, loses his wife and copes with his loss. There's something really youthful and exciting about how the story evolved. The phasing has a crescendo-feel. It started slow but as the plot gained momentum, it also intensified that the climax was deafening, and the way the story settled into a conclusion, the calmness was ironically so heavy it is disturbing yet mind sense-awakening.,

There are so many other stories in the book like The Kidney-Shaped Stone that Moves Everyday, and I would definitely recommend Blind Willow Sleeping Woman to anyone who wishes to have a nice compelling read to close a run-on-the-mill day.

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (Php 630) is available at Fully Booked. For inquiries, visit their website here.