Friday, December 12, 2014

The Strange

Last night I finished reading The Strange Library, Haruki Murakami's latest book (or at least the latest to be translated into English). I don't believe I've finished a Murakami since After Dark, all those years ago; of course, this one is so short that it takes less time to read than some short stories. (After Dark itself was one of his shorter novels; it seems it's been a while since I lost myself in a massive Murakami, though I remember my experiences with Wind-Up Bird and Norwegian Wood and especially Hard-Boiled Wonderland very fondly.) The illustration above was taken from the UK version, which seems to have nicer visuals all throughout than the US version designed by Chip Kidd (though admittedly the UK cover is uninspired). The vaguely annoying "oriental" imagery that always seems to accompany US Murakami releases (with the happy exception of the original hardcover edition of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle) plagues this one too. Not for the first time, I found myself wondering if Kidd is overrated, or perhaps just overworked.

As to the story itself, it was worth reading, though it will probably not stick for very long in my memory. The most affecting part of it was the last page, a sad sort of epilogue. This is not one of those uplifting fables to be given to teenagers upon graduation (this is a good thing, by the way).

I began this entry with some purpose in mind, but now feel my mind wandering, led astray by distractions. There was something there I wanted to say about childhood, and misfortune, and books, and mothers, and memory. But I am distracted by other voices, and by various aches and pains and worries. The past couple of weeks have not been easy; work has been more demanding than usual and my health more of a concern than usual. I find myself thinking, again, about how much longer I have.

I have trouble getting up, walking around, navigating stairs, breathing. Sessions with the doctor bring relief, but so far the relief has been temporary. We're increasing the frequency of the visits however and perhaps that will help. I dream of working my way back to a state of relative normalcy, but it seems like such a faraway dream, sometimes.

Perhaps for this reason, I find myself thinking a lot about childhood. Reading The Strange Library made me think, not of the libraries of my youth, but the malls I spent so much time growing up in. Specifically MCS, which is strange and labyrinthine in its own way. I may have to write a book about it someday, something akin to Downtown or Neverwhere, but different... (Virra Mall will require an entirely other volume to itself.)

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