I would like to say that heat agrees with me. For the most part it does. The cold is unbearably painful but hot weather is merely uncomfortable at worst. I come from thin-blooded Californian stock after all. But while I say I can deal with heat, I always forget about humidity. Ye gods. There is nothing more disgusting than lying in a puddle of your own sweat. Because the air is so oppressive, your perspiration doesn’t evaporate, denying you any relief from the heat. The air feels like soup. In these conditions, my fall rate would probably be something ridiculous like 105mph. It feels so thick.
Having done nothing except order takeout, watch Law & Order: SVU marathons, eat an obscene amount of ice cream, and read Murakami all weekend, I feel like a completely useless slab of meat (steamed to perfection). I almost welcomed the dawning of Monday morning because I could rely on spending at least 9 hours in my frigid office and then go to the gym.
I’ve binged on Murakami almost as much as I’ve binged on ice cream. In the past month I’ve read Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, Kafka on the Shore, and After Dark. My favourite is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which I felt was the most coherent narrative with the most complete character development arc. I like Hard-boiled Wonderland best of the rest, although I actually think Kafka on the Shore is a better book. Both employ similar narrative structure: two separate storylines converging by the end of the book (it sounds trite and cliché when I put it this way, but really Murakami is a master at this), but Kafka is much more emotionally satisfying than Hard-boiled Wonderland (the latter’s ending felt like a bit of a cop-out). I liked After Dark, but either the novella was too short to sustain the magic realism or else it went entirely over my head.
Things I’ve noticed about Murakami’s writing:
- He’s a bit of a music snob. But not in your hipster sort of way. More like a “I know classical music/jazz better than anyone” sort of way.
- Cock. He loves the cock. A lot. Behold the emblem of his masculinity! Though this may be a singularly Japanese thing because it’s a country that worships the penis.
- He likes precocious young women in non-traditional relationships with the older male protagonist that are tinged with a hint of sexual tension. (See: May Kashara from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and The Granddaughter from Hard-boiled Wonderland)
- He likes to cook.
- Mindfuckery galore! (Literal and metaphorical.)
- Japan’s role in World War II. (It’s interesting to read post-war fiction from the point of view of the defeated.)
Kafka on the Shore is definitely his best book, but The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is my favourite thus far. Next up: stealing Norwegian Wood from Wicked Cool Riley‘s bookshelf. As well as the Jodi Picoult novels lent me by The Inimitable Bex.
However, DUUUUUUUUUUUDE check out this forthcoming YA novel!
The Explosionist is the story of a 15-year-old girl growing up in an alternate version of 1930s Edinburgh, one where the legacy of Napoleon’s victory a century earlier at Waterloo is a standoff between a totalitarian Federation of European States and a group of independent northern countries called the New Hanseatic League. This world is preoccupied with technology (everything from electric cookers to high explosives) but also with spiritualism, a movement our world largely abandoned in the early twentieth century; Sigmund Freud is a radio talk-show crank, cars run on hydrogen and the most prominent scientists experiment with new ways of contacting the dead.
All information stolen from the author Jenny Davidson‘s blog.
Isn’t this totally up my alley? Alternate history (my favourite form of “fantasy,” really), steampunk elements, spiritualism…I may be putting Jenny Davidson’s novel up beside Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell in my newly created “Alternate History Novels” section.
Although my ride down to the DZ fell through last weekend, it won’t happen for this upcoming weekend! The lovely, lovely couple Bex and I met last Thursday at The Farm will be going skydiving for their 8th anniversary and they’ll be taking us with them! AFP Level 7 for me and AFP Level 1 for Bex! I’m stoked. AT LAST.