Monday, May 7, 2007

Book Talk

Good grief, has it been 6 days since my last post? Say it ain't so!

In my defense . . . well, I have no defense. I spent Derby Weekend unhealthily engrossed in the "Undead and Unwed" series. Seriously, people. High-falutin' stuff.

But, I have to say, while my Derby Day reading marathon may not have been that high-falutin', it was highly intertaining. Fascinating stuff, really. If I am to die suddenly, I SO want to come back as the Queen of the vampires. And since I also watched "The Queen" this weekend, I can tell you that the Queen of the Vampires has a lot more fun than the Queen of England. (Not that Prince Phillip wasn't Mr. Hotty-pants back in the day, but immortal, he ain't.)

I don't feel the slightest bit of shame for my fluff reading, because I just came off of reading a much more serious book, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. It was fantastic; so much so, that I decided it should be the first book review here on Around the Subject.

Ahem. (Serious literary content to follow.)

I stumbled across Haruki Murakami when I accidently (darn those book club return cards!) purchased Kafka on the Shore a year or so ago. Since I bought it, I went ahead and read it. I really enjoyed 90% of it. I thought it was inventive, had the right bit of dark humor thrown in, and I was actually pretty excited to come across a new-to-me fantasy/sci-fi writer. Then I got to the ending, and, well . . . it didn't end.

Murakami totally left me hanging. Characters just disappeared without developing further, plot lines just stopped, and there was absolutely no explanation for the probably supernatural events. I was not amused.

Then, a few months ago, while lurking around on Altdotlife, I read a bunch of stellar reviews of Murakami's other works, so I gave it another try, in the form of Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. (Which gets points for a fabulous title, by the way.)

This one was much better. It had an odd little dual story line going on that was hard to figure out, but not TOO hard. And -- BONUS -- it had an ending! Not a wrap-everything-up-with-a-neat-bow a la the Charmed finale, but an ending nonetheless. It explained just enough to leave me feeling satisfied with the plot, but left enough questions that I could still ponder it after I was done.

So, moving on (and with much more enthusiasm), I bought The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. And loved it. Really -- Loved. It.

I would have trouble describing the plot of the book. The simplest explanation would be something like this -- guy quits his job, his cat runs away, his wife leaves him, and he spends the next few years trying to figure it all out.

But that doesn't tell you anything. Reading this book was like becoming someone else -- with no explanation, no back-story, no hologram named Al, nothing. You have to live this person's life as it comes. People come in and out of that life and you learn some things, but not everything, about them. Your life takes some twists and turns, and some of them are amazing, but some are almost dull. And in the end, all you understand is that you don't understand much.

And -- I can't stress this enough -- the not understanding? It's OKAY! If some weird shit goes on that you can't explain, at least it's interesting, and at least it's not some lame-ass hokey explanation like in Vanilla Sky, or some dull pure science thing (because even though I know evolution is true, you have to admit Creation would be a lot more fun).

I don't think Murakami is for everyone. I think you have to at least be open to the fantasy/sci-fi/magic realism genres. But if those are the kind of things you like, even just on occasion, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle should be on your list.

Here endeth the serious literary content. Humor to resume momentarily.


Jonathan's Mommy said...

Yay!! You're back! I missed your posting and have decided I will no longer be your friend if you don't post at least twice a week.

I've been wanting to read the Unwed series and now I think I need to borrow them from you. That is, if I can ever finish The Historian, which I don't think that I will ever finish. That other book sounds good, too--maybe one day I can read that, too...

As far as shoes, I plan to wear them again so you should definitely see them! They were SO comfortable!!

Bryan said...

I'm waiting . . . .