Posts Tagged ‘Desire’

As a reader, I am more a dip-my-toes-in-the-water kind. I read a book or two by a writer and then move on to a new writer. This is how it is even with my favourite writers. A.S.Byatt is one of my favourite writers and I have read just one book by her. Marlen Haushofer is another of my favourite writers and I have read just two books by her. I, of course, dream that one day I will read all the books written by all of my favourite writers, but that hasn’t happened yet. Though my reading is broad and wide because of this, I have some big gaps in my reading experience. The biggest of this is Haruki Murakami. I love Haruki Murakami and have read excerpts from his books in anthologies, but I have never read any of his novels or short stories. The only book of his that I have read is ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running’, but that is non-fiction and so I am not counting it here. Friends have been recommending Murakami to me for years and some of them have been kind enough to gift me Murakami books. I have a whole row in my bookshelf filled with Murakami books, waiting to be read on a rainy day. When a few weeks back one of my friends gifted me this Murakami book, I decided that the waiting should be over and I should get started. I read ‘Desire‘ today and finished it in one breath.

Desire‘ has five short stories. They are not new stories, but have been taken from other Murakami collections and collected together here because of their common theme.

The first story ‘The Second Bakery Attack‘ is about a newly married couple who get up in the middle of the night feeling very hungry. The husband describes a story from his past in which he and his friend tried robbing a bakery but the bakery owner was ready to give what they wanted if they listened to some classical music with him. What happens after that and what is the connection between that and the present form the rest of the story.

The second story ‘On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning‘ is about what happens when one meets his / her soulmate in the street accidentally.

The third story ‘Birthday Girl‘ is about a waitress who works in the restaurant in her twentieth birthday and then strange things that happen that day.

The fourth story ‘Samsa in Love‘, turns the Gregor Samsa legend from Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ upside down and imagines what happens when someone or something gets up in the morning and discovers that he / she / it has been transformed into Gregor Samsa. It is a fascinating story.

The fifth and last story, ‘A Folklore for My Generation : A Prehistory of Late-Stage Capitalism‘ is about a man who describes what happens to his high school sweetheart. It describes the atmosphere of the times, the 1960s, and Japanese culture and value system very well, and the ending of the story is poignant.

I loved all the stories in the book, but the last one was my favourite.

I am glad I finally read my first Murakami. Whoohoo! I can’t wait to read my next one now!

I will leave you with some of my favourite passages from the book.

“When you listen to somebody’s story and then try to reproduce it in writing, the tone’s the main thing. Get the tone right and you have s true story on your hands. Maybe some of the facts aren’t quite correct, but that doesn’t matter – it actually might elevate the truth factor of the story. Turn this around, and you could say there are stories that are factually accurate yet aren’t true at all. Those are the kind of stories you can count on being boring, and even, in some instances, dangerous. You can smell those ones a mile away.”

“The older you get, the more boring travelling alone becomes. It’s different when you are younger – whether you’re alone or not, travelling can be a gas. But as you age – the fun factor declines. Only the first couple of days are enjoyable. After that, the scenery becomes annoying, and people’s voices start to grate. There’s no escape, for if you close your eyes to block these out, all kinds of unpleasant memories pop up. It gets to be too much trouble to eat in a restaurant, and you find yourself checking your watch over and over as you wait for buses that never seem to arrive. Trying to make yourself understood in a foreign language becomes a total pain.”

Have you read ‘Desire‘ by Haruki Murakami? What do you think about it?

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