Andrew Fryer wrote:I've come to the conclusion that I don't buy into what I consider to be pseudo-genres such as "magical realism" or "gypsy jazz". For me, magical realism is just imitation Marquez, and gypsy jazz is just imitation Hot Club de France. I read one of Berniere's Latin American books and just thought it was second-hand Marquez. And for that matter, the second time I read Marquez's oeuvre I didn't enjoy it any more - I just found it too strained after effect and silly in places. But that was nose-to-tail in chronological order, the whole lot, so perhaps I should just tackle Cien Anos on its own some time. Same goes for Proust - when I get to the last volume, my mind is mush, so I'll have to read it as a stand-alone one day. So when I read in the blurb that Murakami writes about "urban alienation", I just think, for god's sake, if you live in a city and feel alienated, join a social club or something. Just adding pretend madness and surrealism like ingedients to a cake isn't going to convey an experience that Murakami doesn't even have himself. I went through the phase of reading existentialism when I was younger. Even today I have to look up existentialism in the dictionary because I still don't have any real idea what the hell it is supposed to be. The reason I'm reading the Wind-up Bird Chronicle is because this year I watched half a dozen old Japanese movies and was intrigued by how often wells feature in them, and a friend suggested I read the book, but I'm surprised at just how little emotional or mythical or symbolic content wells have for Murakami, at least in contrast to the movies. In fact his whole world is more American than Japanese, and the whole book is so slickly translated and so American, that it's only the Japanese names that remind us it's a Japanese novel. I'm not convinced Murakami is making any real point. Is his "urban alienation" to do with living in a cultureless Japan? It just doesn't come across that way for me. Murakami's narrator is in his comfort zone when listening to jazz, although somehow that morphs into Western classical music by about the halfway point. As far as aliens in cities go, I empathise more with Henry Miller, although I, regretfully, lack his ebullience. This isn't meant to be a coherent critique - I've just banged some thoughts down so I can review them later. I'm currently 343 pages in.
Wow, such insightful thoughts about literature, Andrew, and so many books you are consuming. I am struggling with my guitar and my three year old son. Very little time left for reading, which is a pity.