~ About bloomin time I posted this ~
I’ve just finished reading The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. It’s the second book by this author that I have read, after Cassie gave me her copy of Dance Dance Dance, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Chronicle is very similar in that it involves a normal suburban Japanese man, with a gentle taste in music, whom I assume is based closely on the author, experiencing a series of strange encounters, dreams and confusing occurences. The cover reviews of Chronicle list Dick as a possible influence or contemporary, and I can see it.
Philip K Dick is one of my favourite writers, with his very matter-of-fact dialogue acting as a steady platform upon which the feelings and motives of the characters are worked out while around them reality blurs, melts, fades and sometimes shatters. Murakami has less of the thinking out loud, but both of his books that I’ve read involve a dream or hallucination where the main character goes deeper each visit, and solves the book’s, or his own, mystery. Dick does this in Ubik, and Flow My Tears, but the change to a new environment (or reality) takes place piecemeal, an object here or a person there changing, or more often than not decaying or dying.
I’ve read two books by another Japanese author, Natsuo Kirino. Out is about a group of women who work in a factory, struggle to get by, and get involved with the underworld. They end up providing a service to gangsters who need bodies disposed of. Grotesque was a more complex story, based in an exclusive school with rigid rules and horrible cliques and bitchiness. It starts out being narrated by one character, then you read the diary of another, and letters from another. Then you hear the testimony of the accused murderer, and how it relates to the other characters. Of course they all have different points of view, motives and reasons for what they’ve done. Kirino gets classed as a thriller writer, so if you like crime, a bit of brutality, some blood and damaged people struggling through a constrained life, you could do worse.