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Our Fairy Tales Ourselves: Storytelling From East to West | Literary Hub
"Mall Santas not withstanding, there is of course only one Santa in the west. But my son, raised on a diet of both Japanese and western children’s books, didn’t seem bothered by the discrepancy. It was simply a story. Another kind of story, set in Japan, where one thing was always turning into hundreds of things and where every animal, not to mention every food item in a refrigerator, could always talk and stories did not necessarily proceed in a standard linear fashion. Not for the first time it dawned on me: we imprint on what a story ought to be extremely early in life. Whether we know it or not, our childhood reading—fairy tales in particular—tell us what successful story structure is and is not, and what ought to feel satisfying.

I had a conversation about this with a film director in Japan one time, and he said to me that after his son was born, he had tried to read Curious George in translation. “And I thought,” said the director, “that we would never have a monkey behave like that in a Japanese children’s book. And then I realized—so this is how Americans are growing up. With Curious George.”

* * * *

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we learn our stories. In my twenties, I received a personalized rejection letter from an agent for a manuscript that will hopefully never see the light of day. The letter contained phrases like “becoming a writer takes a long time,” and “perhaps consider going to school.” She also suggested that I read The Writer’s Journey, by Christopher Vogler."



"A portion of my childhood was spent in Japan; my mother took me there every summer. While I was allotted two hours of TV a week in the United States (my parents religiously followed movie ratings, which means I still haven’t seen The Jerk), I was allowed to view as much television in Japan as I wanted, under the guise that it would help me with my language skills. And so I watched and watched. Occasionally I would see something on TV that deeply captured my imagination and love, but which sent me into such a fit of tears that my mother would literally spend hours trying to console me over the injustice of a purely tragic ending while she cursed her culture for being irresponsibly sad. For in Japan, stories could be devastatingly, irredeemably wretched. Ghosts could triumph over the living. People also had sex on TV and there were breasts! The stories—life—felt at once more fraught, but more colorful, as if the very act of being alive was more daring on Japanese television than at home. But it wasn’t a fake fraught. Innocent people suffered as a result of living in a perilous if vibrant world.

Over the past two decades, it has been interesting to watch Hong Kong action films and Japanese cartoons, or manga and anime, make their way across the ocean to find a vast audience in the west. So, too, have some novelists in translation become popular, chief among them Haruki Murakami. I think that part of what readers and audiences are responding to is a “fresh” way of experiencing a story.

Take, for example, the animated film Spirited Away, in which the young heroine, Chihiro, is suddenly separated from her parents, and finds herself in another realm, populated by gods and invisible beings, who congregate at a bathhouse. To return to her parents, Chihiro will need to work at this bathhouse, though the way home is far more circuitous than it was, say, for Dorothy trying to return to Kansas. Dorothy gets rid of two out of four witches (the evil witches are ugly, and the good ones beautiful). She also must see the Wizard.

The rules are less clear for Chihiro. While working at the bathhouse, Chihiro encounters the proprietress Yubaba, who with her large nose, oversized head and copious wrinkles seems, at first glance, to epitomize the evil ugly witch made incarnate. But as the movie progresses, it becomes less and less clear if Yubaba is in fact purely evil. When her twin sister, Zeniba shows up, the same features that made Yubaba so intimidating, appear almost grandmotherly; elderly people can, in fact, slip out of one role and into another just as Yubaba and Zeniba do. There is a kind of nimbleness, for lack of a better term, at play in many of these stories from Japan (hence the limitless forms that Santa can take in Nontan’s world) that we in the west are just beginning to experience.

About a decade ago, I stumbled across another book—a good complement to The Writer’s Journey. The Japanese Psyche: Major Motifs in the Fairy Tales of Japan, by Hayao Kawai, examines Japanese fairy tales, and how so many of their ideas and themes feel at once familiar, but strange to western audiences. Kawai is often referred to as the first Japanese psychologist who trained as a Jungian analyst. But when Kawai returned to Japan from Switzerland, he realized that some of the “rules” of interpreting mythology and dreams didn’t exactly conform to Japanese culture. What was more, stories didn’t adhere to expected western concepts of structure.

Kawai addressed the idea that reality is in fact slippery, in the Yubaba-Zeniba way. He writes: “Reality consists of countless layers. Only in daily life does it appear as a unity with a single layer, which will never threaten us. However, deep layers can break through to the surface before our eyes. Fairy tales have much to tell us in this regard.” What lies behind this layer of reality? If you have any familiarity with Murakami’s work, then you know he often explores the reality behind reality; it is perhaps not a coincidence that Kawai is said to have been a great friend to Murakami. Western writers have started to adopt the Murakami/Kawai style of storytelling. Someone like David Mitchell, who lived in Japan, puts a similar twisting and turning through time and reality to use in his book Cloud Atlas.

Kawai also introduces the concept of “the aesthetic solution.” In western fairy tales, Kawai notes, stories often resolve with a conquest, or with a wedding. Examples are numerous: Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, etc. But in Japanese fairy tales, Kawai says, there is rarely this kind of union. Frequently, stories resolve with “an aesthetic solution.” And by aesthetic, Kawai specifically means images from nature. As an example, he opens his book with a discussion of the fairy tale, “The Bush Warbler.”

A woodcutter is out in the woods, when he comes across a mansion he has never seen before. He encounters a beautiful woman, who invites him into her house and asks him to look after the property while she is out—if he promises not to look in any of the interior rooms. As soon as the woman leaves, the woodcutter breaks his promise. He wanders around and finds three beautiful women sweeping. They see him, and glide away “like birds.” Alone again, the woodcutter begins to steal intricate, gilded objects. At one point, he picks up a nest with three eggs. He drops the nest and the eggs break. The beautiful woman returns to the house and chastises the woodcutter for “killing her three daughters.” She transforms into a warbler, and flies away. When the woodcutter comes to, he finds himself completely alone in the woods, with none of the pilfered objects in his possession and with only a memory of beauty.

This kind of ending, says Kawai, is not uncommon in Japan. In a western fairy tale, the woodcutter might have become a prince, and ultimately married the beautiful and mysterious woman. But not so in Japan. Instead, the story is resolved by “the aesthetic solution,” in which the hero is left to contemplate his own existence against the backdrop of a beautiful image. Or maybe I am being too western here. Maybe his existence doesn’t matter. Maybe all we are left with is the beautiful image.

Kawai notes: “In Japan, especially in ancient times, aesthetic value and ethical value were inseparable. Beauty is probably the most important element in understanding Japanese culture. In fairy tales too, beauty places a great role in the construction of the stories.” In fact: “the Japanese fairy tale tells us that the world is beautiful, and that beauty is complete only if we accept the existence of death.” There are reams and reams that can be written about this single observation, but I’ll just say here that it’s a critical piece of understanding so many of the great Japanese novels, like Junichiro Tanizaki’s masterpiece, The Makioka Sisters, and Yukio Mishima’s tetralogy. It’s also something to keep in mind when you read, as you should, what I think is possibly the bravest and most important work being done right now in introducing Japanese literature to western readers: I’m talking here about Monkey Business, the literary magazine edited by Roland Kelts, and produced in partnership with A Public Space. Even if you read just these stories, you’ll get a sense of how our modern world is at once familiar, but might look and feel slightly different to people with a completely different cultural base than our own.

It’s been a while since I read The Writer’s Journey, but I doubt very much it contains “observing a beautiful image but being left with nothing” as “the Reward” for the hero’s quest. And yet, perhaps it is indeed precisely the kind of knowledge a true seeker needs to learn, and accept as she ages. Perhaps it is the bravest lesson of all.

* * * *

Some say that Hollywood stories are becoming too international, and are obliterating other concepts of what a story can and should be. If our stories reflect who we are as people, this would be a shame, because I think other insights—that beauty is an ethical value—are as interesting and valuable as all the metaphoric meanings that come with slaying a dragon. (And incidentally, if you run a low-res writing program, I have a whole syllabus I could teach at your university based on the themes in this essay).

In the forward to the third edition of The Writer’s Journey, even Vogler acknowledges that… [more]
stoytelling  us  japan  thewest  writing  fairytales  mariemutsukimockett  stories  spiritedaway  harukimurakami  hayaomiyazaki  studioghibli  film  movies  georgeluvas  josephcampbell  curiousgeorge  linear  nonlinear  culture  catsanta  yukiomishima  wwnorton  davidmitchell  christophervogler  animals  2016  linearity  beautyrolandkelts  apublicspace  junichirotanizaki  aesthetics  non-linear  alinear 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Mystery of Murakami - Nathaniel Rich - The Atlantic
"But in Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Murakami’s mystical Technicolor lightship never achieves liftoff. His approach is instead uncharacteristically terrestrial. Tsukuru visits each of the three surviving members of his group in turn, discovering that they have normal jobs and careers. One makes pottery; another runs a corporate training center; the third sells cars. Tsukuru quickly discovers the reason for their sudden dismissal of him—a reason that is unfair, and not Tsukuru’s fault, but legitimate nonetheless. In its melancholy tranquility, the novel is most reminiscent of South of the Border, West of the Sun (1999) and Sputnik Sweetheart (2001)—quiet, restrained works that, despite metaphysical elements, never fully abandon themselves to the supernatural. Those novels, following Dance Dance Dance (1994) and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1997), served as a kind of palate cleanser, a return to plausibility; Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, following the maximalist pyrotechnics of 1Q84, has a similar texture. There is no Sheep Man, dream library, or child psychic. There is only a single moon in the Tokyo sky.

Yet we’re undeniably in Murakamiland. Nobody else could have written this novel, or dared to try. Then again, given the remarkable continuity of his fiction, nearly every Murakami novel feels like a new volume of the same meganovel, a vast saga that is now approaching 7,000 pages in length. As in all the other novels, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki’s plot is gripping, but ultimately inconsequential. The tone is wistful, mysterious, winsome, disturbing, seductive. It is full of gorgeous, incongruous imagery—a Japanese man playing Thelonious Monk’s “Round Midnight” on an upright piano in an empty junior high school in a mountain village; the movement of a beautiful boy’s shoulder blades, “like the wings of a butterfly,” as he swims in a Tokyo pool; an old accordion player in a worn-out vest and Panama hat, singing “Don’t Be Cruel” in Finnish, accompanied by a catatonic, pointy-eared dog—that seem like emanations from the multiverse.

And page after page, we are confronted with the riddle that is Murakami's prose. No great writer writes as many bad sentences as Murakami does. His crimes include awkward construction ("Just as he appreciated Sara’s appearance, he also enjoyed the way she dressed”); cliché addiction (from a single, paragraph-long character description: “He really hustled on the field … He wasn’t good at buckling down … He always looked people straight in the eye, spoke in a clear, strong voice, and had an amazing appetite … He was a good listener and a born leader”); and lazy repetition (“Sara gazed at his face for some time before speaking,” followed shortly by “Sara gazed at Tsukuru for a time before she spoke”). The dialogue is often robotic, if charmingly so."



"How is the author of these lines capable of an atrocity like “Her smile had ratcheted up a notch”? The most charitable explanation is that in Murakami’s fiction, his ugly sentences, though often distracting, serve a strategic purpose. Like the hokey vernacular and use of brand names in Stephen King’s fiction, Murakami’s impoverished language situates us in a realm of utter banality, a simplified black-and-white world in which everything is as it appears. When, inevitably, we pass through a wormhole into an uncanny dimension of fantasy and chaos, the contrast is unnerving."
harukimurakami  2014  nathanielrich  writing 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Haruki Murakami excerpt from Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.
"A folktale from Haruki Murakami’s new novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage."
harukimurakami  stories  fiction  2014 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Deep Chords: Haruki Murakami’s ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’ - NYTimes.com
"The writer sits at his desk and makes us a story. A story not knowing where it is going, not knowing itself to be magic. Closure is an illusion, the winking of the eye of a storm. Nothing is completely resolved in life, nothing is perfect. The important thing is to keep living because only by living can you see what happens next."
harukimurakami  pattismith  2014  writing 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Best Fabulist Books – Flavorwire
"Fabulism, it seems, is having a moment — although whether it’s truly a trend is up for debate. Some might say it’s been right there, purring along all this time, while others might blink and wonder what you’re talking about. Such is always the case with magic. But whether you’re a newbie or an old hat, there are always new corners of the fantastic to discover.

Before we begin, take note: I say fabulism, but there’s really no single term that works for all of these books, or even for more than a few of them. There’s Robert Scholes’s fabulation, Todorov’s fantastic, there’s plain old fairy tale or fantasy, there’s the much-discussed magical realism, but none of these really work as blanket terms, at least not for what we think of when we consider contemporary literary works with, er, unrealistic elements. And maybe that’s a good thing — maybe that’d tether these books too close to earth, keep them too cemented in our imaginations.

So, here you’ll find 50 excellent novels and short story collections by fabulists, fantasists, and fairy-tale-tellers, literary books that incorporate the irreal, the surreal, and the supernatural, which have no unironic dragons, very few (if any) self-serious necromancers, but lots of delightful, magical, humane, real-as-all-get-out storytelling. Better get started, and if any of your own favorites are missing here, add them to the list in the comments."
via:anne  books  booklists  toread  srg  harukimurakami  italocalvino  borges  isabelallende  gabrielgarcíamárquez  georgesaunders  kafka  aimeebender  alissanutting  ameliagray  angelacarter  benmarcus  chinamieville  césararia  donaldantrim  donaldbarthelme  eowynivey  etgarkeret  heidijulavits  helenoyeyemi  jeffvandermeer  johnbarth  joywilliams  karenjoyfowler  karenrussell  katebernheimer  kathryndavis  kellylink  kevinbrockmeier  koboabe  lauravandenberg  lucycorin  marie-helenebertino  mattbell  mikhailbulgakov  nalohopkinson  neilgaiman  normanlock  philiproth  porochistakhakpour  ramonaausubel  salmanrushdie  sarahsun-lienbynum  shanejones  stephenmillhauser  tobybarlow 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Reading Proust in prison - Austin Kleon
"Daniel Genis spent ten years in prison and read over one thousand books:
He read “In Search of Lost Time” alongside two academic guidebooks, full of notations in French, and a dictionary. He said that no other novel gave him as much appreciation for his time in prison. “Of course, we are memory artists as well…,” he wrote of prisoners in his journal, in the entry on “Time Regained.” “Everyone inside tries to make their time go by as quickly as possible and live entirely in the past,” he said. “But to kill your days is essentially to shorten your own life.” In prison, time was both an enemy and a resource, and Genis said that Proust convinced him that the only way to exist outside of it, however briefly, was to become a writer himself… Later, when he came across a character in a Murakami novel who says that one really has to be in jail to read Proust, Genis said that he laughed louder than he had in ten years.

Murakami might be on to something. The people I know of who’ve read a stupendous amount of books in a certain period of time have lived in a kind of sparse, prison-like existence. When the depression hit, Joseph Campbell moved to a shack outside of Woodstock, New York, and read nine hours a day for five years. When I was 20, I spent 6 months in Cambridge, England living in a room the size of a broom closet, and that’s when I read Shakespeare, Dickens, Dostoevsky, Joyce, etc. (At one point, Genis’s father tells him to read Ulysses in prison, because “he wouldn’t have the willpower to get through it once he became a free man.”) My friend was in the Peace Corps for two years in Africa, and he said all there was to do at night was smoke weed and read. He read a couple hundred books.

Maybe that’s what college should be: two years where your rent is paid and you do nothing but read…"
danielgenis  reading  concentration  attention  prison  imprisonment  isolation  harukimurakami  proust  josephcampbell  marcelproust 
july 2014 by robertogreco
The Essence of the Japanese Mind: Haruki Murakami and the Nobel Prize |
"In other words, Murakami began to explore how putting the needs of the group before the needs of the individual — often assumed to be an elemental tenet of Japanese society — leads to a disregard for the sacredness of human life."



"Perhaps Murakami’s greatest feat in transitioning to more serious themes from the gleeful apolitical nature of his early work is that his later fiction does not feel drastically different. All of his stories assert that reality and time are bendy and subjective; that consciousness has unseen depths and imagination untold power; and that people are lonely.

But after 1993, Murakami applies the idea of memory as a constructed narrative to historical memory and to history itself. Just as he critiques the media’s description of current events, Murakami calls into question history’s presumed superiority over literature in rendering past and present events.

Unlike the feelings of dislocation and disbelief experienced by Murakami’s characters during actual traumatic moments, many characters feel the fictional stories they’ve read or been told seem more real than reality. Human beings are constantly searching for meaning, for a coherent narrative to bind together the information they are given. History and news can provide this narrative, but fiction, according to Murakami, does it better. Why? Because fiction honors the dignity of an individual consciousness, while history and news group people together, creating the illusion that a hundred, a thousand or a million lives can be analyzed as one.

When I was living with a Japanese family in Hokkaido in 2006, my host mother looked up one day from a TV news report about a woman who had drowned her baby in a bathtub and asked me how mothers in America kill their children. Foreigners in Japan often find themselves having these conversations: In Japan we do it this one, established way. How do you do it in your country? Sometimes, this makes sense. In America, public school students don’t wear uniforms. In Japan, they do.

I would often find holes in these seemingly universal pronouncements about “how we do things.” In Japan, only babies drink milk, an older woman told me once. Weeks later, I noticed a colleague sipping the stuff during a morning meeting.

Japan likes to believe itself to be unified in spirit and behavior, impervious to foreign influence. And to a certain extent, it is. But in the 21st century, no island is an island. If Murakami ever does win the Nobel, Japan will rally in celebration behind him, all past grievances forgotten, and his vision of the country — teeming with idiosyncratic individuals who know the chorus to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” better than the details of how to perform a tea ceremony — will enter the canon.

And somewhere, Yasunari Kawabata, whose Nobel lecture discussed Zen, cherry blossoms, flower arrangement, and calligraphy, will be rolling in his grave."
harukimurakami  2013  memory  time  history  memories  fiction  literature  amandalewis  japan  subjectivity  storytelling  narrative  independence  individuality  interdependence  culture  identity 
october 2013 by robertogreco
I’m just a working-class guy trying to take part in the conversation that all the smart people are having. What books should I read?
QUESTION (in part):

"I’m just a working-class guy trying to take part in the conversation that all the smart people are having. This brings me to my question: What books should I read? There are so many books out there worth reading, that I literally don’t know where to start."

ANSWER (in parts):

"We’re not on a ladder here. We’re on a web. Right now you’re experiencing a desire to become more aware of and sensitive to its other strands. That feeling you’re having is culture. Whatever feeds that, go with it. And never forget that well-educated people pretend to know on average at least two-thirds more books than they’ve actually read."

"Come up with a system of note-taking that you can use in your reading. It’s okay if it evolves. You can write in the margins, or keep a reading notebook (my preference) where you transcribe passages you like, with your own observations, and mark down the names of other, unfamiliar writers, books you’ve seen mentioned (Guy D. alone will give you a notebook full of these). Follow those notes to decide your next reading. That’s how you’ll create your own interior library. Now do that for the rest of your life and die knowing you’re still massively ignorant. (I wouldn’t trade it!)"

"Ignore all of this and read the next cool-looking book you see lying around. It’s not the where-you-start so much as the that-you-don’t-stop."

SEE ALSO: the books recommended

[Orginal is here: http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2012/08/31/dear-paris-review-john-jeremiah-sullivan-answers-your-questions/ ]
books  reading  literacy  2013  advice  learning  lifelonglearning  canon  wisdom  ignorance  readinglists  lists  recommendations  curiosity  booklists  notetaking  notes  observations  education  religion  libraries  truth  howilearnedtoread  readingnotebooks  notebooks  howwelearn  culturalliteracy  culture  hierarchy  hierarchies  snobbery  class  learningnetworks  oldtimelearningnetworks  webs  cv  howweread  borges  film  movies  guydavenport  huntergracchus  myántonia  willacather  isakdinesen  maximiliannovak  robertpennwarren  edithwharton  denisjohnson  alberterskine  karloveknausgaard  jamesjoyce  hughkenner  richardellmann  stephengreenblatt  harukimurakami  shakespeare  vladimirnabokov 
march 2013 by robertogreco
The American Crawl : Rhizomatic Listening: On Shuffling Audiobooks
"And this is what I’ve been thinking about: the shift in narrative as a result of audio shuffle…

Cortazar’s Hopscotch supposedly works in random-ish order.

I think a more controlled chaos could also work. I think of the three parts of Skippy Dies and, considering Paul Murray tells you exactly what happens by the end of the book in the title, wonder how my experience would be altered if I shuffled the three parts of the books. Ditto the five parts (and three bound volumes) of Bolano’s 2666.

I think of Deleuze and Guittari’s notion of the rhizome. A model for looking at research and culture, the notion of the rhizome differs significantly from traditional tree-like hierarchies. Seeing multiple points of entry and exploration, they write that “any point of a rhizome can be connected to anything other, and must be.” The world is shuffled. We curate rhizomatic experience everytime we create a playlist – a digital piñata of randomly falling sonic riches."
harukimurakami  skippydies  theunfortunates  bsjohnson  paulmurray  forthewin  corydoctorow  playlists  ipod  nicholasjaar  gabrielgarcíamárquez  rhizome  2666  robertobolaño  rayuela  hopscotch  randomization  machinemixing  remixing  listening  deleuze&guattari;  shuffling  audiobooks  juliocortázar  shuffle  2012  anterogarcia  remixculture 
december 2012 by robertogreco
Thrumming in the Mixture (slaughterhouse90210: “The most important thing...)
“The most important thing we learn at school is the fact that the most important things can’t be learned at school.”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
quotes  schools  learning  harukimurakami  unschooling  deschooling  via:lukeneff 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Pin pages to the wall and examine them with binoculars - rodcorp
"Truman Capote wrote lying down, as did Marcel Proust, Mark Twain and Woody Allen.

Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Philip Roth, Lewis Carroll, Thomas Jefferson, Fernando Pessoa and George Sand all wrote standing up.

Roth also "walks half a mile for every page".

Roald Dahl wrote in a shed.

Philip Pullman used to write in a shed, but eventually gave it to an illustrator friend.

Umberto Eco has a converted church as his scriptorium. One floor has a computer, one has a typewriter, one in which he writes long-hand.

Haruki Murakami commutes into a city apartment in Tokyo where he writes.

After the publication of Joe Gould’s Secret, Joseph Mitchell came to the office at the The New Yorker magazine almost every day for the next thirty-two years without filing another word.

Dashiell Hammett published nothing after he was 39 - he felt he was repeating himself but never managed to find a new style he felt was good enough.

Ray Bradbury wrote an early version on Fahrenheit 451 in nine days on a rented typewriter in the UCLA library basement.

Will Self uses a wall of Post-It notes to plan and structure his writing.

Elmore Leonard writes on yellow legal pads.

Michel Faber corrected the first manuscript of The Crimson Petal and the White with house paint because he couldn't afford Tipp-Ex.

Gustav Hasford was a serial hoarder of very overdue library books, and had 10,000 of them in storage lockers.

Don DeLillo types each paragraph onto its own sheet of paper, so that he might concentrate better.

Gay Talese would pin pages of his writing to a wall and examine them from the other side of the room with binoculars.

Jonathan Safran Foer has a collection of blank sheets of paper.

Cormac McCarthy said that his perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper.

Ethan Canin copied John Cheever paragraphs out to learn what made the man's writing tick.

Anthony Trollope required of himself two hundred and fifty words every quarter of an hour.

J.G. Ballard, a fan of discipline in writing, prepared very long outlines and aimed for 1,000 words a day.

Walter Benjamin advocated delaying writing an idea as long as possible, so that it would be more maturely developed.

Richard Ford and his wife shot a book by Alice Hoffman, after she had given his book Independence Day an unfavourable review.

.

How I work is I recap the material from the original How we work posts [http://rodcorp.typepad.com/rodcorp/2004/12/how_we_work.html ] and the more recent links [http://pinboard.in/u:rodcorp/t:howwework/ ]."
rodmcclaren  howwewrite  howwework  richardford  walterbenjamin  jgballard  anthonytrollope  ethancanin  johncheever  cormacmccarthy  jonathansafran  dondelillo  gustavhasford  michelfaber  elmoreleonard  willself  raybradbury  dashiellhammett  josephmitchell  harukimurakami  umbertoeco  philippullman  roaldahl  philiproth  lewiscarroll  thomasjefferson  fernandopessoa  georgesand  ernesthemingway  charlesdickens  winstonchurchill  virginiawoolf  marktwain  marcelproust  woodyallen  trumancapote  writing  proust 
july 2012 by robertogreco
True writing and (ethnographic) fiction | Design Culture Lab
"I’m most struck by the possibility that a story’s capacity to affect a reader depends on how successfully a writer can bring people, places and things to life. And what I take from Hemingway here is that this requires a writer to blur the line between fact and fiction, to write truly without writing the Truth.

In any case, I want my writing to inhabit, and evoke, this space–and moving in this direction is, I think, the key to merging researcher and writer to create good ethnographic fiction."
hemingway  fscottfitzgerald  thewind-upbirdchronicle  harukimurakami  2012  truth  ethnographicfiction  space  thinking  fiction  writing  everydaylife  annegalloway  designfiction 
march 2012 by robertogreco
The Shelf Life: "Translation as Detour"
"Professor Rubin shared one anecdote that involved his current project translating the first two volumes of 1Q84 for Haruki Murakami. He assured us that this isn't a spoiler, but some of the characters see two moons in the sky. These folks are in the minority, as everyone else sees a single moon. But in Japanese, there is no distinction between plural and singular nouns. So the struggle, for him, has become sorting out how many moons each character sees. It occurs to me that only a certain kind of person will think that's funny, or even remotely interesting, but I'm absolutely of that variety."
plural  japanese  japan  language  2010  translation  harukimurakami  jayrubin 
february 2012 by robertogreco
YOU MIGHT FIND YOURSELF: HARUKI MURAKAMI, JAZZ MESSENGER
"Whether in music or in fiction, the most basic thing is rhythm. Your style needs to have good, natural, steady rhythm, or people won’t keep reading your work. I learned the importance of rhythm from music — and mainly from jazz. Next comes melody — which, in literature, means the appropriate arrangement of the words to match the rhythm. If the way the words fit the rhythm is smooth and beautiful, you can’t ask for anything more. Next is harmony — the internal mental sounds that support the words. Then comes the part I like best: free improvisation. Through some special channel, the story comes welling out freely from inside. All I have to do is get into the flow. Finally comes what may be the most important thing: that high you experience upon completing a work…

Practically everything I know about writing, then, I learned from music. It may sound paradoxical to say so, but if I had not been so obsessed with music, I might not have become a novelist."
via:frankchimero  harukimurakami  writing  music  jazz  howwewrite  2010 
november 2011 by robertogreco
1Q84 Transports Readers to Bizarro Version of 1984 | Magazine
"1Q84, the latest novel from Japanese sensation Haruki Murakami, transports readers back to 1984 — or at least a phantasmagoric version of that year. He presents a world beset by a series of murders and disappearances, a menacing sect called the Sakigake, and free-floating evil forces. But was the real year 1984 really that much less surreal? After some investigation, we found the narratives to be remarkably similar."
1Q84  1984  harukimurakami  2011  books  novels  literature  georgeorwell 
november 2011 by robertogreco
The Fierce Imagination of Haruki Murakami - NYTimes.com
"“I live in Tokyo,” he told me, “a kind of civilized world — like New York or Los Angeles or London or Paris. If you want to find a magical situation, magical things, you have to go deep inside yourself. So that is what I do. People say it’s magic realism — but in the depths of my soul, it’s just realism. Not magical. While I’m writing, it’s very natural, very logical, very realistic and reasonable.”

Murakami insists that, when he’s not writing, he is an absolutely ordinary man — his creativity, he says, is a “black box” to which he has no conscious access. He tends to shy away from the media and is always surprised when a reader wants to shake his hand on the street. He says he much prefers to listen to other people talk — and indeed, he is known as a kind of Studs Terkel in Japan…"
harukimurakami  writing  2011  howwecreate  howwework  1Q84  books  interviews  running  japan  tokyo  travel  culture  literature 
october 2011 by robertogreco
Haruki Murakami: Talent Is Nothing Without Focus and Endurance :: Articles :: The 99 Percent
"It's not surprising then that, for Murakami, the act of running and the act of creating are inextricably linked, like the two sides of a Möbius strip. As he writes about the evolution of his running career — from his first marathon to his first ultramarathon (62 miles) to his first triathlon — he constantly circles back to how his athletic experiences have impacted his writing practice, and vice versa. For Murakami, the creative process is a sport.<br />
 <br />
Here's what he has to say about talent, focus, and endurance: [long quote]"
harukimurakami  writing  endurance  workethic  running  focus  training  practice  talent 
august 2011 by robertogreco
For a long time after I got married, I used to... - AUSTIN KLEON : TUMBLR
"For a long time after I got married, I used to have this vague idea that the purpose of marriage was for each partner to fill in what the other lacked. Lately though, after 25 years of marriage, I’ve come to see it differently, that marriage is perhaps rather an ongoing process of each partner’s exposing of what the other lacks….Finally, only the person himself can fill in what he is missing. It’s not something another person can do for you. And in order to do the filling in, you yourself have to discover the size and location of the hole."
via:lukeneff  harukimurakami  marriage  partnership  missing  self  self-improvement 
august 2011 by robertogreco
For a long time after I got married, I used to... - AUSTIN KLEON : TUMBLR
"For a long time after I got married, I used to have this vague idea that the purpose of marriage was for each partner to fill in what the other lacked. Lately though, after 25 years of marriage, I’ve come to see it differently, that marriage is perhaps rather an ongoing process of each partner’s exposing of what the other lacks….Finally, only the person himself can fill in what he is missing. It’s not something another person can do for you. And in order to do the filling in, you yourself have to discover the size and location of the hole."
via:lukeneff  harukimurakami  marriage  partnership  missing  self  self-improvement 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 182, Haruki Murakami
"I started writing at the kitchen table after midnight. It took ten months to finish that first book…

When I was 29, I just started to write a novel out of the blue. I wanted to write something, but I didn’t know how. I didn’t know how to write in Japanese—I’d read almost nothing of the works of Japanese writers—so I borrowed the style, structure, everything, from the books I had read—American books or Western books. As a result, I made my own original style. So it was a beginning."

"I’m a loner. I don’t like groups, schools, literary circles. At Princeton, there was a luncheonette, or something like that, and I was invited to eat there. Joyce Carol Oates was there and Toni Morrison was there and I was so afraid, I couldn’t eat anything at all! Mary Morris was there and she’s a very nice person, almost the same age as I am, and we became friends, I would say. But in Japan I don’t have any writer friends, because I just want to have . . . distance."
harukimurakami  writing  japan  cv  distance  solitude  time  space  howwework  social  introverts 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Fiction - Reality A and Reality B - NYTimes.com
"Viewed from such a professional perspective, it would seem that the interface between us and the stories we encounter underwent a greater change than ever before at some point when the world crossed (or began to cross) the millennial threshold. Whether this was a change for the good or a less welcome change, I am in no position to judge. About all I can say is that we can probably never go back to where we started.

Speaking for myself, one of the reasons I feel this so strongly is the fact that the fiction I write is itself undergoing a perceptible transformation. The stories inside me are steadily changing form as they inhale the new atmosphere. I can clearly feel the movement happening inside my body. Also happening at the same time, I can see, is a substantial change in the way readers are receiving the fiction I write.

There has been an especially noteworthy change in the posture of European and American readers. Until now, my novels could be seen in 20th-century terms, that is, to be entering their minds through such doorways as “post-modernism” or “magic realism” or “Orientalism”; but from around the time that people welcomed the new century, they gradually began to remove the framework of such “isms” and accept the worlds of my stories more nearly as-is. I had a strong sense of this shift whenever I visited Europe and America. It seemed to me that people were accepting my stories in toto — stories that are chaotic in many cases, missing logicality at times, and in which the composition of reality has been rearranged. Rather than analyzing the chaos within my stories, they seem to have begun conceiving a new interest in the very task of how best to take them in."

By contrast, general readers in Asian countries never had any need for the doorway of literary theory when they read my fiction. Most Asian people who took it upon themselves to read my works apparently accepted the stories I wrote as relatively “natural” from the outset. First came the acceptance, and then (if necessary) came the analysis. In most cases in the West, however, with some variation, the logical parsing came before the acceptance. Such differences between East and West, however, appear to be fading with the passing years as each influences the other."

[…]

"We often wonder what it would have been like if 9/11had never happened — or at least if that plan had not succeeded so perfectly. Then the world would have been very different from what it is now. America might have had a different president (a major possibility), and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars might never have happened (an even greater possibility).

Let’s call the world we actually have now Reality A and the world that we might have had if 9/11 had never happened Reality B. Then we can’t help but notice that the world of Reality B appears to be realer and more rational than the world of Reality A. To put itin different terms, we are living a world that has an even lower level of reality than the unreal world. What can we possibly call this if not “chaos”?"
culture  fiction  literature  writing  change  international  global  harukimurakami  analysis  perspective  reality  writerreaserrelationship  influence  influences 
december 2010 by robertogreco
The Elephant Vanishes (unabridged)
There's an .mp3 at the bottom in which "Roy McMillan introduces the fascinating world of Haruki Murakami, with excerpts from his works on Naxos AudioBooks." Good for sharing with the uninitiated.
harukimurakami  audiobooks  literature  theelephantvanishes 
october 2010 by robertogreco
ctina.com: Haruki Murakami: The Second Bakery Attack
"ever try to share something that impresses you very much w/ someone who impresses you very much, only to receive an impressive lack of appreciation?<br />
<br />
It's like taking landscape pictures from your vacation, & then showing them around. Just don't bother.<br />
<br />
This happened to me w/ Haruki Murakami…a very talented, absorbing, inspiring writer who wrote the best short story I have ever read, "Sleep." He also wrote the following story (shorter than "Sleep" & more transcription-friendly), which I numbed my little fingers typing out one day at work, risking my job, eyesight & circulation for sake of e-mailing it to 3 ingrates whose puzzled, lackluster reactions made them unworthy of my suffering. (I mean, I was also really bored &, in retrospect, potentially a bit touched that day; but that's beside the point.)<br />
<br />
I guess we must choose our cultural battles carefully.<br />
<br />
But if at least 1 person is searching for e-Murakami & is gratified by this page, my labor will not have been in vain."
via:robinsloan  harukimurakami  fiction  stories 
october 2010 by robertogreco
“Literal Translation” « Haikasoru: Space Opera. Dark Fantasy. Hard Science.
"In one of the appendices, he talks about the challenge of translating Japanese, and offers up two sample translations of a paragraph in the Murakami short story “The 1963/1982 Girl from Ipanema.” He notes that while one version is awkward and the other smooth, both are linguistically equidistant from the original Japanese. The awkward version just has an “illusion of literalness” simply because it isn’t as good.

Then Rubin offers up a real literal translation of the same paragraph. English loan words are in italics. I’m keying this in from the UK edition, thus the alternative spellings of the words “color” and “meter.”"

[via: http://bobulate.com/post/997537595/the-illusion-of-literalness ]
japanese  literature  translation  harukimurakami  langage  craft  jayrubin 
august 2010 by robertogreco
cloverfield press
"Cloverfield Press is a boutique publishing house dedicated to bringing new literary and artistic voices to a discerning public. We hope to create books as visually beautiful as they are intellectually and emotionally stimulating.
elinornissley  letterpress  harukimurakami  books  cloverfield  publishing  literature  press  graphicdesign  friends 
july 2010 by robertogreco
The pesto of content. on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
"Reading is a terribly painful endeavor for me. I'm impatient and have terrible attention span issues. My thoughts race off in a hundred directions, usually well ahead of the text.

It takes a certain style of writing to engage me and keep me focused. Very few authors can keep me reading.

In recent memory there have been 3 books I have managed to read through, cover to cover.

This one, "The Shape of Content" by Ben Shahn, recommended by Herr Cope years ago. "The Accidental Masterpiece" by Michael Kimmelman and "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" by Haruki Murakami
reading  impatience  attention  cv  borisanthony  books  benshahn  harukimurakami  michaelkimmelman  theideaisbetterthantherealthing  bopuc  theshapeofcontent 
april 2010 by robertogreco
CG Jung Page - Novelist and Analyst Search the Japanese Psyche
"Haruki Murakami's Wind-Up Bird Chronicle...an elaborate, multi-layered story, in which, as the narrator discovers, "Everything was intertwined, with the complexity of a three-dimensional puzzle-a puzzle in which truth was not necessarily fact and fact not necessarily truth." (p. 527) Portraying a very contemporary Japan, Murakami has been called the voice of a generation and is one of Japan's most popular and widely read novelists. Adding to my fascination with his novel were the abundant supporting insights about the Japanese psyche found in Jungian analyst Hayao Kawai's books, The Japanese Psyche, Major Motifs in the Fairy Tales of Japan and Dreams, Myths & Fairy Tales in Japan. Kawai, who is with the Inernational Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto, makes incisive observations about the Japanese psyche based on his study of old tales, and his conclusions correlate amazingly with Murakami's imaginative contemporary tale."
psychology  mythology  japan  harukimurakami  hayaokawai  literature  culture  society 
december 2009 by robertogreco
click opera - Hayao Kawai, the self, and the great mother
"laid out 3 key points...distinguishing Eastern mind: tendency to introversion, location of consciousness outside self, strength of "great mother inside"...lack of distinction in Eastern world btwn consciousness & unconsciousness...Eastern philosophy seeks self in its own unconsciousness...when Westerners say word "mind" refer to consciousnes...Eastern self lives in unconsciousness...lack of knowledge of self. self in Westerners is put in centre of consciousness...self is seen as strong, central & independent - & yet frail...surrounded by unknown, able to be overwhelmed & undermined at any moment by powerful "instincts" & "impulses" from somewhere else...Westerners tend to find meaning of their life in a fight w/ fate & own nature, whereas Easterners tend to find meaning of life in "tasting their fate"; accepting it, & living in harmony w/ their own nature. typical Western dramatic hero struggles against inevitable, whereas typical Eastern hero "tastes" & accepts it."
west  east  japan  culture  society  momus  harukimurakami  hayaokawai  psychology  psychoanalysis  self  consciousness  unconsciousness  meaning  life  perspective  family  community  individuality  fate 
december 2009 by robertogreco
The iTunes-ization of short fiction is here | Books | guardian.co.uk
"As short stories are released for individual download, impress a potential partner with your mix-tape of love literature – by putting a Haruki Murakami, say, next to a Stefan Zweig" [via: http://bookfuturism.com/?q=content/itunes-ization-short-fiction-here-short-stories-are-released-individual-download-impress-pot]
readinglists  readlists  shortstories  tcsnmy  harukimurakami  ebooks  kindle  downloads  literature  fiction  writing  editing  itunes 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Essay - Is Technology Dumbing Down Japanese? - NYTimes.com
"Now the Japanese language is being transformed by blogs, e-mail and keitai shosetsu, or cellphone novels. Americans may fret over the ways digital communications encourage sloppy grammar and spelling, but in Japan these changes are much more wrenching. A vertically written language seems to be becoming increasingly horizontal. Novels are being written and read on little screens. People have gotten so used to typing on computers that they can no longer write characters by hand. And English words continue to infiltrate the language.
languages  language  japan  japanese  english  technology  internet  change  harukimurakami  history  debate  simplification  books  mobile  phones  email  reading  writing  culture  society  immigration  learning 
december 2009 by robertogreco
The novelist in wartime | Salon Books
"There are a few days in the year when I do not engage in telling lies & today happens to be one of them...Between a high, solid wall & an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg." Yes, no matter how right the wall may be & how wrong the egg, I will stand with the egg. Someone else will have to decide what is right & wrong; perhaps time or history will decide. If there were a novelist who, for whatever reason, wrote works standing w/ the wall, of what value would such works be?...I have only one reason to write novels, and that is to bring the dignity of the individual soul to the surface and shine a light upon it...Take a moment to think about this. Each of us possesses a tangible, living soul. The System has no such thing. We must not allow the System to exploit us. We must not allow the System to take on a life of its own. The System did not make us: We made the System. That is all I have to say to you."
harukimurakami  ethics  culture  politics  israel  writing  literature  war  truth  society  thesystem  humanity 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Book Review - '2666,' by Roberto Bolaño. Translated by Natasha Wimmer - Review - NYTimes.com
"A novel like “2666” is its own preserving machine, delivering itself into our hearts, sentence by questing, unassuming sentence; it also becomes a preserving machine for the lives its words fall upon like a forgiving rain, fictional characters and the secret selves hidden behind and enshrined within them: hapless academic critics and a hapless Mexican boxer, the unavenged bodies deposited in shallow graves. By writing across the grain of his doubts about what literature can do, how much it can discover or dare pronounce the names of our world’s disasters, Bolaño has proven it can do anything, and for an instant, at least, given a name to the unnamable. Now throw your hats in the air."
robertobolaño  2666  harukimurakami  borges  literature  chile 
november 2008 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Library of Dust
"Each canister holds the remains of a human being, of course; each canister holds a corpse – reduced to dust, certainly, burnt to handfuls of ash, sharing that cindered condition with much of the star-bleached universe, but still cadaverous, still human. What strange chemistries we see emerging here between man and metal. Because these were people; they had identities and family histories, long before they became nameless patients, encased in metal, catalytic."

[See also: http://www.davidmaisel.com/library-of-dust/
http://oshmuseum.org/library-of-dust-documentary-coming-soon/
http://www.amazon.com/Library-Dust-David-Maisel/dp/0811863336 ]
bldgblog  harukimurakami  dust  photography  human  death  chemistry  books  davidmaisel  art  history 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Extract from What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami | Health and wellbeing | Life and Health
"Author Haruki Murakami loves the loneliness of the long-distance run. Which is how he found himself tackling his 24th marathon. But what about his dodgy knee? Has he trained enough? And will the Rocky theme tune be playing in his head?"
harukimurakami  howwework  via:rodcorp  writing  running  japan  literature  discipline  concentration  method 
june 2008 by robertogreco

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