recent reads

I’ve been re-reading bits of Mishima’s Sea of Fertility tetralogy:
book 1 – Spring Snow
book 2 – Runaway Horses
book 3 – The Temple of Dawn
book 4 – The Decay of the Angel.

Basically in a Japanese phase, I guess. I’ve been devouring Murakami. Of his books, the only ones I haven’t read are his two collections of short stories (The Elephant Vanishes and After the Quake) and Underground, his nonfiction account of the Tokyo subway gas attacks.

I have a strange need to share what I so love about his books, but I find it tremendously difficult to put it into words.

Each of his books contains a central mystery – a search for a missing person, for example – and that’s certainly part of what makes them compelling, like all good mysteries. So he clearly has a love for mystery, though he’s not at all a mystery author in the genre fiction sense of the word. There’s also a touch of sci-fi in his books, which in his case is more often considered surrealism and referred to as such by his critics and scholars.

There is a kind of melancholy that pervades his plots and characters, and a familiar vulnerability. There’s also an awkwardness – mostly mechanical – which could be a function of translation. None of this, however, gets at the heart of why I love his books.

When I finished reading ‘The Wind-up Bird Chronicle” I surprised myself by suddenly bursting into tears. There was no sense of being gradually overcome by emotion, no lump in my throat. I literally burst. It is that thing I love about his books that prompted my outpouring, and I’m realizing I’m absolutely not able to put it into words.

His books have a kind of stunning clarity on a level that my soul seems to understand by my mind can’t package.

So, in the end, I’m failing once again to express what I like about his books, but I can safely say he’s my bedside table successor to Toni Morrison, Don DeLillo, Michael Ondaatje and Cormac McCarthy.