I never see guys reading Murakami. I see girls reading him on a regular basis. It’s one of those things I keep track of, ever since hearing about The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. My then-girlfriend a few years back convinced me to read Hard Boiled Wonderland. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I treated it as sort of a quirky pop, page turner, with good doses of imaginative candy.
Later, when I was bored of whatever I was reading at the time, I picked up TWUBC to get that japa-centric, surreal noir fix. This one was more ambitious, sprawling and filled with a specific brand of Japanese loneliness. Anyway, I enjoyed it, but once again kind of blew it off as fluff; just really good, creative entertainment. That’s it. End of post.
I can’t remember how long ago I read TWUBC but it was while I was still dating my girlfriend of five years. Somewhere in there somewhere. So a year ago we broke up, and I haven’t handled it very well. I mean. I’m still functioning on the surface, but basically I’m running on magic. It must be magic because I don’t know how else I’m doing it. I’ll leave it at that.
So, within a year I think I’ve seen Margaret twice. I moved to Los Angeles and she lives in New York. I’ve since erased her from my phone, my facebook, and my email contacts. Occasionally I’ve sent her desperate texts or emails (I can’t erase her contacts from my mind) about wanting to work things out, but you know… it doesn’t seem likely. These rare texts and emails are like sending letters into the dark. Some weird entity picks them up and maybe sends you something back. The dynamics of our brief interactions have become more and more fictional to me, which is a problem since I already have the bad habit of turning our past domestic problems into comics.
So then the other day I saw the prog band Magma in NYC. I guess I was naive to think Margaret wouldn’t be there. I hadn’t seen her in 6 months or so. So it felt sort of like she had been kidnapped or something. Except whoever kidnapped her didn’t want anything from me. They just wanted me to know she was still alive. I didn’t even talk to her. I just waved “hi” and then she left.
Two days later I’m still shook up from the experience. So this takes me back to the Murakami book. I’m walking home from somewhere and I start thinking about the main character’s weird adventure, trying to find his wife who has disappeared. His way of finding her involves sitting in a well and like, walking into a shadow or something? And then finding himself in a creepy hotel room over and over. In order to get her back, he has to circumvent mundane/material reality and enter into an emotional/magical reality, which is to say that under normal circumstances, winning your estranged lover back is fucking impossible. That’s what I get from it at least. Uh. I think while I was walking I had a lot more thoughts about this.
Basically what I’m trying to say is I’ve gained a lot more respect for Murakami in the past day or two. He captures completely, the psychic death of a man who loses his love. I always assumed that sort of shit was just Japanese, cultural shorthand. I think Trey Parker once said in the movie Orgazmo, “There’s nothing sadder than a sad Japanese man.”
On a similar vibe, let’s watch my favorite scene from Lost Highway. It also captures that feeling so vividly. I think about it all the time.