I blame 1981 for picking this book up. (I wouldn't normally)
Anyways, I saw that it was a murder story and since I'm always up for a little gore I thought I'd give it a go. Plus, it was a tiny little book so it's not like I would have spent my life reading it if it wasn't good.
Long story short, it wasn't good. Either the author can't write, or the translator cannot quite grasp the Japanese language.
The main character is Frank an American visiting Tokyo. He claims to have been killing people since he was 6 years old (yeah right!) The characters are unconvincing, the text is sentiment devoid. Murakami talks about utter terror but you don't get to feel it. No climaxes at all, it's just flat. Even House Of Leaves was scarier that this!
Even though, there were some parts I really liked and I quote.
Towards the end Frank tells Kenji (the Japanese guide) about a prostitute he met:
She had a lot of bad experiences. I don't mean she was beaten or assaulted or anything, but apparently for her the hardest part about living here was all the group pressure, and the fact that people don't understand about personal space. The Japanese surround you in groups and talk about you behind your back in groups and don't think anything of it. They don't think about the pressure they're putting on you, and it's no use complaining to them because they don't even know what you're talking about. If they were openly hostile you could counterattack, but it's not like that, and she doesn't know how to deal with it. Like this one thing that happened when she'd been in Japan about six months and was finally picking up a little of the language. She was walking across a vacant lot surrounded by little factories and warehouses, and some kids were playing soccer there. Soccer's big in Peru, of course, and when she was a little girl in the slums near Lima they used to play with tin cans and rolled-up newspapers and things because they couldn't afford a ball. So watching these kids made her happy, it brought back good memories, and when the ball came rolling over toward her she tried to kick it back to them. But she was wearing sandals and the ball veered off to one side and landed in a ditch full of some kind of factory waste, and it got covered with this greasy gunk and smelled terrible, so she fished it out and apologized to the kids and was about to leave when they said: "Hold on a minute". They surrounded her, and told her she had to buy them a new ball, because this one was filthy and smelly and they couldn't use it anymore, but she couldn't even get her mind around that, because where she grew up everybody's so poor the idea of compensation didn't even exist, and she ended up breaking down in tears right there in front of the kids. She knows that women who come here to peddle sex aren't exactly welcome, but she realizes that would probably be true in most countries, and she's tough enough to put up with being sneered at or treated badly just for doing what she has to do, but she couldn't understand these kids demanding she buy them a new ball. There are sixteen people in her family and she came to Japan to work so she can rent them a small apartment in Peru, and she can't return until she's saved a certain amount of money, but at this rate she thought she'd never get ahead at all, and she didn't know who to turn to. This was her first time abroad, and she decided that since it's a foreign country they must have a different god and that maybe the god the Catholics pray to loses his power here because the customs are different, not to mention the land itself....
....She thinks the Japanese need to do some deep thinking about their own gods, and she's right.
In the miso soup - Ryu Murakami - Headquarters
27 July 2006 @ 02:52 pm
In the miso soup - Ryu Murakami