Friday, October 13, 2006

What We're Reading: Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

Haruki Murakami, the author of a new short story collection entitled Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, is one of those wildly imaginative authors who can be difficult to read. While there really isn't a connection to the director, my media arts degree forces me to concoct one with a comparison to David Lynch. Reading these stories reminded me of watching Lost Highway many years ago. I was already confused about the plot when, all of a sudden, the cast of characters changed. "Huh? Where did Bill Pullman go?" In both cases, I had the sense that I was missing some vital information. However, unlike the disquiet of Lynch movies, I liken it more to the enlightenment that arises from the question, "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound"? The point is not the answer, but the peace that results from its consideration. It's a jumping off point into something more meaningful. You begin to see the brilliance in combining strange and disparate elements: a nearly fanatical devotion to preparing spaghetti and a random call from a friend's ex-girlfriend, for instance.

Don't touch this book if you like a solid ending. If you like a bit of mystery, if you're okay to venture in places you've never thought to explore, you simply must pick up this book. It won this year's Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, so I promise that other people think it's good too.

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