A personal note; I have been married for a dozen years. I was married once before, to a woman I am still connected to through our son. These women are the poles my adult life has circled around and in the course of my having known them I have been told many a tale. Crappy days, complete heartbreak, wondrous memories and wry smiles. In return I have told them my own stories, but they are not the stories that I tell my male friends, many of whom I have known far longer. And as a child, I always enjoyed listening to the women talk when my folks were at some sort of social gathering.
I was privy to another world.
Weaving in and out of the narrative, we are told many stories by the characters that Toru meets in course of the novel. Midori, the girl from the restaurant whom has a mildly sad story about an absent parent, Reiko a story of sexual longing and clinical depression. Neither woman is the point of the novel but the story cannot be told without them. They are sharing stories of “being” and “non-being.” Midori’s tale is of her father leaving her for Uraguay after her mother’s death, Reiko’s the loss of the central facet of her life, piano, and the girl she tried to teach. This concept of being/non-being has been essential to Murakami’s writing up until this point, being very heavily explored in Hardboiled Wonderland, but also a strong part of such earlier works as Pinball, 1973 and Hear the Wind Sing. The concept refers to a character being “between this world and another, interior world of death and memory.”1
How do these stories relate to Naoko and Toru? What has happened to Stormtrooper? The novel mentions music constantly, has characters sing, Toru works in a record shop. Does this add to the novel, help it ground itself in the period?
If everyone is OK with it, let’s read chapters seven, eight and nine this week. If that is moving too fast for anyone, again, please let me know in the comments.
- Jay Rubin, Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words. Pg 156. [↩]