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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Sunday, 11 December 2011

"After the Quake" by Haruki Murakami

This is a collection of short stories by the lyrical Japanese writer.

After the Kobe earthquake Komura's wife leaves him. He flies to Hokkaido carrying a small wooden box that a colleague has given him. He is empty inside.

After the Kobe earthquake Junko watches Mr Miyake build a bonfire on a midnight beach. They decide that when the bonfire goes out they will die together.

After the Kobe earthquake Yoshiya follows the man with the missing ear to a deserted baseball stadium. He believes the man to be is father although his mother insists he is the child of God. The man with the missing ear disappears and Yoshiya dances at night in the empty stadium.

After the Kobe earthquake Satsuki,a menopausal thyroidologist, goes on holiday in Thailand. Her driver, who claims to be half dead, takes her to a fortune teller. Satsuki hates her ex-husband, hoping he was swallowed up by Kobe's liquefied earth, and mourns the children she never had.

After the Kobe earthquake a giant Frog comes to call on bank debt-collector Mr Katagiri to enlist his help in a subterranean battle to the death with Worm who is planning to destroy Tokyo with an earthquake. Katagiri may or may not get shot and wakes up in hospital.

After the Kobe earthquake Junpei tells stories about bears and honey to Sala who is scared of The Earthquake Man. Later he makes love to Sala's mum, his best friend since college, who went off with his other best friend at college.

Six stories told in Murakami's bald prose. The dialogue is stark and people often say things which have no bearing on what was said before. The characters are outlined with the efficiency of a cartoonist; there is no attempt at the multi-layering of an oil painting. They are all empty, nihilistic, hollow. The situations are all ordinary with a hint of extra-ordinary. It works at the level of fairy tales and this must be because Murakami's words, while flat, have a lyrical magic. These are haiku stories.

But while haikus often reveal beauty, these stories chronicle the dark, materialistic, violent soulessness of Japanese society.

Strange and powerful.

Dec 2011; 132 pages

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