Saturday, 15 March 2014

the world may not be enough

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(Evening time, with a full heart) 

I only really started reading Murakami's works last year after my boyfriend, Donald, started heavily recommending them to me. I remember dipping my toes into The Wild Sheep Chase many years back and emerging from it completely flummoxed, with no idea what the hell that book was about. I ended up staying away from Murakami since then since I usually like to draw some sort of conclusion from books rather than walk away from it without being able to grasp its core (silly eh, how sometimes we're brought up to think that an experience is only valuable insofar as what you can gain out of it in concrete terms) but it seems that now, more than ever, it's something I tend to crave for. The complete escapist experience that allows you to go into a small, quiet corner away from everything, deeper into yourself and not want to emerge.

I first discovered it with his book The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which is really an AMAZING piece of writing. It was the book that I kept by my side wherever I went in Montreal last year and I remember spending mornings at my favorite Olive et Gourmando, choosing the window seat at the end of the room where I could sit quietly, blissfully nibbling on the world's best almond croissant (it's true. i dare you to find a better one), all the while being transported to that inexplicable Murakami world. It has to boil down to the details. One thing I love is how he always has a thing for what the protagonists have for their meals. It's always about the guy whipping up a simple dish of grilled fish... steamed vegetables...miso soup... all of which is so relatable and realistic. I mean you can literally imagine so many youngsters doing that nowadays. Then he throws in the talking cats and mute and live skinning of soldiers (which will leave you scarred . -_- 
That said, so far I've managed to get through some of his other books (South of the Border, West of the Sun/ Kafka on the Shore.) all of which were perfect little spots for me to escape into from work which just happens to be so tedious and...unenjoyable for a large portion. 

Finally, probably sometime last month (I forget when I actually started), I decided to embark on his magnum opus, 1Q84, which turned out to be pretty darn awesome. It's a lot easier to pick up and dip into in spurts whenever I had time in the evening after work, compared to Wind-Up Bird which really demanded a lot more MIND. It was something to look forward to almost every night after dinner when I just needed something to wind myself down before the next work day. I would switch on the night light, settle down beneath my comforter and feel myself easing into the world of Tengo and Aomame, until I found myself dozing off and unable to continue and then it would be time to sleep. Looking back, it's something I'm thankful for, because this particular rotation at work has been physically so much more draining than before, and at least when I look back on it, I can remember this bit that provided solace; a calm amidst the storm outside. 

Certain books end up defining a period of time in your life because it's almost as if you've split yourself into two - one to carry on with the every day functions of life and the other, retreating and immersing into the other world such that when you return, you've almost always left a part of yourself behind. When I look back now, I'll remember that that was the 1Q84 period of my life. And similarly, Montreal was also the Wind-Up Bird little period of my life.

On a side note, 1Q84 turned out to be a great romantic novel. You can sort of guess at how things will turn out right from the beginning but it's only right at the end that things really started getting sweet, and in Japanese fashion, very quietly and subtly so. 

"He knew too, that it would take time for him to acclimate himself to this new world that had come upon him. His entire way of thinking, his way of seeing things, the way he breathed, the way he moved his body - he would need to adjust and rethink every single element of life. And to do that, he needed to gather together all the time that existed in this world. No - maybe the whole world wouldn't be enough". 

SWEET MUCH?? Donald says Murakami's just pandering to the masses but I REALLY like it when he does. I just lap it all up like rainwater in a desert. 

And as with all lengthier novels that you've invested a part of yourself in, sometimes you just don't feel like letting go of that world. After turning the last page and closing the book, I couldn't get started on a new novel for a couple of days. I just wanted a bit of that world to linger on a bit longer. It's a strange feeling of wistfulness. On the one hand, I can't wait to get to the end of the book, to unravel more of the story. But about 3/4 of the way in, I start getting a little forlorn, knowing that soon, it'll come to an end and I won't be able to replicate the experience again. Because there's nothing like reading a novel for the first time. All the anticipation and wonder of what will happen next can only be experienced that one time. And while I'd like to remain in that world a little longer, going back in to re-read some portions don't quite capture that feeling of getting lost. And once the book is over, there's nothing to do but attempt to hang on to those remaining threads that are fast becoming thin and wispy as life comes back at you with full force. 

Wow, what a ramble. But what can I say? I just love to read. ;)

Here's to a beautiful weekend ahead. 

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