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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

Monday, 7 September 2020

"South of the Border, West of the Sun" by Haruki Murakami

 Hajime, an only child, looks back at his life and loves. As a boy his best friend was Shimamoto buit they drifted apart; as a teenager his first love was was Izumi but he betrayed her. Now in his thirties, running two successful jazz bars, married with two daughters, Shimamoto reappears and his steady, successful life is thrown off course.

There are some scenes in this book, with their dream-like, lyrical writing, that are beautiful and true and among the best things I have read recently.

A small selection of my favourite moments:

  • "After a certain length of time has passed, things harden. Like cement in a bucket. And we can't go back any more." (C 1)
  • "Here she is, all mine, trying her best to give me all she can. How could I ever hurt her? But I didn't understand then. That I could hurt somebody so badly she would never recover. That a person can, just be living, damage another human being beyond repair." (C 2) 
  • "She closed her eyes and let me undress her. It wasn't easy. I'm all thumbs, to begin with, and girls' clothes are a pain. Halfway through, Izumi opened her eyes and took over." (C 3)
  • "When necessity demanded, I could become completely self-centred, even cruel. I was the kind of person who could, using some plauisible excuse, inflict on a person I cared for a wound that would never heal." (C 4)
  • "The four a.m. streets looked shabby and filthy. The shadow of decay and disintegration lurked everywhere, and I was part of it. Like a shadow burned into a wall." (C 7)
  • "For the first time in a long while, I looked into my own eyes in the mirror. Those eyes told me nothing about who I was. I laid both hands on the sink and sighed deeply." (C 9)
  • "As I sat on a bar stool, looking around my establishment, everything looked monotonous, lustreless. No longer a carefully crafted, colourful, castle in  the air, what lay before me was a typical noisy bar - artificial, superficial and shabby. A stage set, props built for the sole purpose of getting drunks to part with their cash." (C 15)
  • "Her face had nothing you could call an expression. No, that's not an entirely accurate way of putting it. I should put it this way: like a room from which every last stick of furniture had been taken, anything you could possibly call an expression had been removed, leaving nothing behind." (C 15)
  • "Dying is not that hard. Like the air being sucked slowly out of a room, the will to live was slowly seeping out of me." (C 15)
  • "No one will weave dreams for me - it is my turn to weave dreams for others." (C 15)

Magical. Poetic. Profound. September 2020; 187 pages

Also by Murakami and reviewed on this blog:

Other Japanese written novels reviewed in this blog include:

This review was written
by the author of Motherdarling

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