Haruki Murakami, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

I have never liked short stories. And I couldn’t get through Murakami’s novels.

But I loved Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.

In each story, something odd and fantastical happens to ordinary people who live ordinary lives. The narrators aren’t very astonished by these strange happenings—because life, for Murakami characters, is full of the inexplicable, the quietly tragic, the unfinished journey.

Murakami shows how stories happen without quests, without fighting off dragons and psychopaths. I find myself wondering about the folks who want that kind of thing, and only that kind of thing. “Nothing happened for the first 25 pages,” they say. They grew up on car chases, explosions, heroes saving the world.

Murakami is meditation.

Many readers have noted the way novels change as they age. That’s one reason why I am a confirmed re-reader of novels that I love.

But our tastes also change.  Once, I could read and enjoy romance novels—a guilty pleasure. Now I only like the funny ones, and not many of those. Lately, I’ve been reading the adventure fantasies so many people love. But I’m getting tired of stories where one dammed thing after another happens. And happens. And happens. Eventually, all these explosions cease to interest me.

So maybe it’s time for me to go back to Murakami’s novels.

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