The Unbearable Banishment: I Once Had A Girl

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I Once Had A Girl

I’m just finishing Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. Everyone but me has known since 2000 that it's a contemporary masterpiece. I’m always late to the party, but I usually show up sooner or later. Have a taste:

“Now get this straight, Wantanabe,” said Midori, pointing at me. “I’m warning you, I’ve got a whole month’s worth of misery crammed inside me and getting ready to blow. So watch what you say to me. Any more of that kind of stuff and I’ll flood this place with tears. Once I get started, I’m good for the whole night. Are you ready for that? I’m an absolute animal when I start crying, it doesn’t matter where I am! I’m not kidding.”

I nodded and kept quiet. Ordering a second whisky and soda, I ate a few pistachios. Somewhere behind the sound of a sloshing shaker and clinking glasses and the scrape of an ice maker, Sarah Vaughn sang an old-fashioned love song.

Shit, man, I’ll never be able write like that. The excerpt probably isn’t that impressive taken out of context but it knocked me on my ass when I read it on the train tonight. I went back over it three times.

I met Murakami once. He made a rare public appearance at a book signing here in New York. He had two cute Japanese assistants with him who each had two wooden chock stamps. When he signed a book, one of the assistants would stamp it. Mine is a picture of two intertwined fish. I asked him if New York frightened him. He and the cute Japanese girls laughed.


Blogger sid said...

Hmmm, you've just given me a great idea. Think I'll include a little excerpt from books I've read when I do a review.

August 27, 2008 at 9:07 AM  
OpenID popomaticjeff said...

I'm not much for contemporary masterpieces but I might have to add this one to my list.

August 27, 2008 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger kyknoord said...

My ex always used to rave about Murakami. Of course, I can't possibly read any of his stuff, because if she was right about that, she might have been right about other things, too.

August 27, 2008 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger Sonny Amou said...

Oh man, Murakami. Good choice. I read Wind-Up Bird Chronicle after getting out of grad school and couldn't put it down. Never read N'Wood, but this may be a kick in the ass to do it.

And I certainly know/appreciate writers' envy. I feel the same way about William Kennedy or DeLillo.


August 27, 2008 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

sid: You're welcome! No charge.
pop: Don’t scoff. Your blog is a contemporary masterpiece.
kykn: One can’t argue with impeccable logic like that.
sonny: Wind-Up is next in the queue. Wm. Kennedy?! WTF! Have you been raiding my bookshelves while I’m at work?

August 27, 2008 at 10:56 AM  
Blogger Sonny Amou said...

Yeah, no lie. I have a copy of Very Old Bones on my desk at work right now. I've read everything by Kennedy except Roscoe, Trolley Car and O Albany! The Irish-American Faulkner...savvy? Deeply, criminally, cruelly underrated writer.


August 27, 2008 at 2:03 PM  
OpenID nursemyra said...

I loved the Wind Up Bird Chronicle but wasn't so impressed with South of the Border.

guess I need to give Norwegian Wood a try

August 27, 2008 at 5:04 PM  

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