The Wait

The dog at the station, how long had he been there?

I would have offered him something, but his stare was empty. I stepped back trying to figure out if he had died. Before us people milled about. The train didn’t want to leave, but really what was there to look at?

The din was like the ticking of a meaningless clock. Feet shuffled but the crowd never died. There were so many, only a blur without meaning. So I stood there and with the dog I listened. People moved but the station never changed.

Flame Set Eyes

It was an evening like any other-I had just retreated to the shaded apartment in the cities few quiet refuges and had perched myself on my balcony. I tugged at my shirts collars and lent on the railings observing the car that had driven by.

It stopped by the house opposite mine and a family streamed out. The car was an old model but I guessed the owners must have been wealthy at some point of time. Their faces were directed at their phones as the man who drove the car said something and made his way into the house before the others. Right after the last thump of a car door I thought I saw one of them look at me.

I nearly fell back into my chair. I wasn’t quite sure why I was thrown off. But I knew where to look when I rose again. Right across the street burned two troubled eyes un-obscured by a veil. They looked right at me with a casual intensity I thought impossible. I exhaled and looked away at the trees that swayed with a flourish. I could not bear to look back down but I am certain the stare was not quickly broken.

I could hear the party at the house across the road but did not see her again. I can’t explain my curiosity. I knew that she was just a visitor and that she would not be here long. I dreamt in a troubled sleep but, as all city dwellers do, had little time to worry about the eyes. Soon enough she was the least of my concerns.

I traveled a lot in those day so it wasn’t long that I was in the city. But those eyes seemed to have marked themselves onto my soul. I would forget as I grew older and traveled further, only to be reminded by the breezy branches of those eyes that burned.

1Q84-Book 3

One of the worst things I’ve done this semester is call Murakami the Japanese Paulo Coelho. It took me a long time to get around to finishing the last part of the trilogy. Partly because I had a lot of other things to finish reading and partly because I was afraid the trilogy would end up being disappointment.

The novel has mad ambition. It raises expectations and suspense like crazy. Halfway through the last part of the trilogy I worried that Murakami could not help but disappoint. The world and stakes keep intensifying at such a terrifying rate that you assume the only way a conclusion can be reached is through some conventional cop out ending. A few of my friends had read some short stories and novels by Murakami which they found rather disappointing which ruined my confidence in Murakami’s ability to tell a story. I wondered if I had been taken for a ride.

In 1Q84 Murakmai proves himself an excellent storyteller able to keep the reader hooked and create interesting characters. But I never felt confident enough to pass judgement until I got to the ending. There is so much going on that your just dying for a conclusive end to tie up everything- miracle births, tiny spirit men, miracle ejaculations, chapters where one of the main characters is a corpse, all the fantastic elements introduced in the previous novel mixed up in a world where death is very real, and very thing runs according to the girding rules of reality. The reality bit is very important, even works that revolve around “believable” settings tend to exaggerate and take things further than things would go in the real world. Here things are extremely realistic, something like buying a gun, disposing a body,surveillance aren’t things that are very easy to do. Even the pros need to extremely cautious and aren’t super efficient archetypes. There are two scenes where characters need to take taxis on  a busy freeway. In any other book this would barely get a line.Here this gets stares, questions, this is a risky, unusual step, that has people commenting on their odd behavior and people citing regulations, very few books would bother to depict this.

You’d be surprised that this extreme painstaking realism that does not ever take any liberties exists in a world with two moons in the sky, air chrysalises,phantom cable fee collectors etc. There is also a very elaborate play going hidden behind the plot. This might be Murakami playing with the story telling, what is called real in stories,how much the characters know about the stories they are in etc in general. Even if he took away the fantastic element in the story and the world he creates, the story or the romantic plot would still be fantastic and never happen in the real world. But you can be sure that this is what we’d call believable in any other book. The fantastic elements in the book, they exist and they  are extremely beautiful and very symbolic. I half  a mind to go through the book reading only the fantasy bits.It’s easy to lose yourself and start day dreaming about the sky as described in the book. I’ve been looking at the moon every day since I began reading the books.

There isn’t much that the reader discovers about Japanese culture. You learn about Japanese law but not culture. I don’t know if this is due to translation, if Murakami writes for an international audience. But this is not a bad thing. I can’t come up with any thing else I’d call bad about the book. A few chapters in I forgot ever doubt I had, blazed through the remaining chapters and went out to look at the moon.

I’ve heard a lot of praise for Murakami and I know a lot of people who think he’s overrated. I can’t comment on his other works but the 1Q84 trilogy is simply amazing and well worth the read.