Wednesday, 25 January 2017

At least there are no cats

(From: amazon, not my copy - which is anyway from the library)

I have stopped myself from buying any more Murakamis. I still like him fine, I assure you, despite the fact that he was yet again passed up for the big prize & yeah, sure, I have listened to Bob Dylan for a long time now and love him and his voice and his weird lyrics. At any rate Dylan is not a runner like Murakami so there is that corner of my brain that is going to always pro-Murakami despite what the Nobel Prize committee feels.

At any rate I rapidly read this anthology of birthday stories and all of them without exception were decidedly scary. Ranging from that one about a king without skin to the absolutely outrageous one about the two call girls and the Italian husband, they were all, on some levels, scary. The worst was the one about the ageing parents and their only son, and that birthday meal in that distinctly bleak Irish village setting. That one I narrated to my husband (to his horror) hoping that our future is not that.

I waited anxiously for the one authored by Murakami himself, and of course he saved it for the very end. I read with interest that it was written exclusively for this anthology, and that it was triggered in his mind by his own experience of turning twenty. I tried to recall my own 20th birthday and frankly, I just don't recall a single detail of it. Likewise my 21st. Anyway, I hurriedly read it through to the end, and of course, did a double take and read it again to make sure that (a) I understood it somewhat and (b) the story had really ended.

I was a bit disappointed with that one, I admit. I expected something poignant, thought provocative, with a hidden depth that I would explore at length in my mind later, and yes, the word I am looking for is haunting. Instead I was left with something that felt, for lack of a better word, just plain unfinished.

Before you accuse me of it, no, I am not a fan purely of the long form, I like short stories. I read them quite often, especially when going through a busy stretch of life, they are the best. I like the suddenness of them, the inherent unpredicability, the comfortable lack of deep character exploration, and ultimately the fact that they allow me to imagine beyond the typed words.

But this book left me - not - as I expected -  in a thoughtful mood where I would sit around and think about the stories and try to pick at them in my head, but in a hurried mood wanting to pick up something else to read and replace it all with. Nevertheless, there was one saving grace in it all, and that was that none of the storied featured cats! Cats! I have had enough of and will take Dylan's 115th Dream over anything to do with cats, anyday!