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Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki…
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Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (2013)

by Haruki Murakami

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,438671,566 (3.82)114
  1. 10
    On Flying Objects by Emil Hakl (rrmmff2000)
  2. 00
    The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami (SqueakyChu)
  3. 11
    Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami (bookmomo)
    bookmomo: Same atmosphere, same strangeness, but more murakami.
  4. 00
    Witte Veder by Sanneke van Hassel (bookmomo)
    bookmomo: Hoewel ze zelf geen groot fan is van Murakami, deden zijn verhalen me aan haar werk denken. Elk heeft zijn eigen forte, maar in hun beider beste verhalen overvalt je een sfeer van vervreemding in het dagelijks leven.
  5. 11
    Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto (Anonymous user)
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» See also 114 mentions

English (55)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (2)  Catalan (2)  German (2)  Italian (1)  All (67)
Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
Murakami has a real way with injecting the bizarre into the ordinary. I don’t know if it can be called a form of magical realism, but if not it gets very close. I enjoyed these stories thoroughly, even the ones I’m not sure I understood, like the title story. That’s OK, I liked reading it and I’m sure I’m going to like re-reading it to see if I can get a better grip on it. ( )
  BooksCatsEtc | Jun 9, 2017 |
Wonderful, surreal, dreamlike... Murakami excels at the art of the short story; and I'd definitely recommend this book as a good introduction to his work.

Contents:
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman - One of the more surrealist works here. A young man has to take his younger cousin to a doctor's appointment - which leads him to recall visiting a friend in the hospital, years before. I know that doesn't sound surreal... but you have to read it.

Birthday Girl - Stuck working on her birthday, a young waitress is called upon to bring the reclusive restaurant owner his dinner. And she's offered a gift, of sorts. What is it? Don't expect to find out.

New York Mining Disaster - A young man who owns no formal suit has to borrow one five times in one year from his friend who likes to go visit zoos during typhoons - each time for a funeral. Then, a woman at a party tells him she killed someone. Then, a vignette related to the title. OK, I gotta admit this one did not make logical sense, unless you look at reading a story in much the same was as one might experience listening to experimental jazz. Which, I suspect, might very well be how Murakami looks at stories, at times.


Aeroplane:Or, How He Talked to Himself as If Reciting Poetry - A man is having an affair with an older,married woman. She tends to cry mysteriously. She tells him he talks to himself, although he's not aware of doing so. More surrealism.

The Mirror - A nightwatchman has a supernatural(?) experience. Can't say too much about it without giving it away, but yes, there's a mirror, and this is hands down one of the best 'ghost stories' I've ever read.

A Folklore for My Generation: A Prehistory of Late-Stage Capitalism - In college, the narrator always thought that two of his classmates seemed to be the most perfect students - and naturally, they seemed to share a perfect relationship. However, when he meets one of those classmates, years later, he hears the story from a different point of view.

Hunting Knife - At a vacation resort, a man on vacation with his wife notices a strange couple of guests staying at the same hotel: an elderly mother and her disabled son. Again, a story that's weirder than you might think.

A Perfect Day for Kangaroos - Sometimes, you should do something immediately, and not wait for the perfect day, because then, it'll be too late. But after all, if it's too late, life goes on.

Dabchick - This one crosses the line from surreal into absurd. It really sounds like one of those dreams that you have that make total sense while you're dreaming it, but after you wake up you realize it was completely ridiculous. I would totally have this dream, too, since I really need a better job right now.

Man-Eating Cats - A couple have an affair. When it's discovered, their marriages end, and they take off to Greece. But sitting pointlessly in Greece isn't necessarily as idyllic as it might seem. And it might end up stranger than you expect.

A 'Poor Aunt' Story - A meta-story about the writing process. Not my favorite in the collection. (But not bad enough to cause a star-docking).

Nausea 1979 - It might be a horror story about a man suffering a curse. Or it might not. There is, indeed, vomiting, either way.

The Seventh Man - "In my case, it was a wave," he said. "There's no way for me to tell, of course, what it will be for each of you. But in my case it just happened to take the form of a gigantic wave. It presented itself to me all of a sudden one day, without warning, in the shape of a giant wave. And it was devastating."
This is the story of that typhoon, and what was lost, and the trauma following. Again, I'm tempted to classify this as a 'ghost story' - and to put it up there with the best of them.

The Year of Spaghetti - A guy cooks spaghetti for a year and it is lonely and depressing. "Thinking about spaghetti that boils eternally but is never done is a sad, sad thing."

Tony Takitani - The moral of the story is: Don't try to get your wife to give up shopping, 'cause then she'll end up dead; it will be your fault, and what the hell are you going to do with all her clothes then?
You'll be sorry!
OK, maybe that's not actually the moral. It's actually a pretty emotionally harrowing, bizarre, and interesting piece.

The Rise and Fall of Sharpie Cakes - Very similar to 'Dabchick' in tone and feel. Both stories even have bizarre and supernatural birds. And I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that Murakami doesn't think much of marketing conferences, and is not going to 'sell out.'

The Ice Man - None of her friends want her to marry the Ice Man. Is he even human? Why does she love him? But she plows on ahead, and it's even her idea to move with him to Antarctic climes. It might not have been a good idea, however.

Crabs - Aww! I think trying strange restaurants in foreign countries is an excellent idea; and one of the most fun parts of travelling! Don't let this story scare you off! (It's pretty effectively scary!) I've got a feeling Murakami got a bad case of food poisoning at some point...

Firefly - This story ended up being part of the novel 'Norwegian Wood.' I think it worked better in the context of the novel than as a short story - so go read the book!

Chance Traveller - Jazz, and coincidences. The torn relationship between a brother and sister is mended by events that seem like more than mere synchronicity.

Hanalei Bay - A Japanese woman's only son is killed by a shark, and she feels driven to travel and see, and understand the surfing community where he died.

Where I'm Likely to Find It - An investigator is hired (?) to look into the disappearance of a woman's husband from the stairwell of his own apartment building. But what is he really investigating?

The Kidney-Shaped Stone That Moves Every Day - A man, strangely obsessed with a one-time statement from his father that every man will only have three women of tru significance to him in his life, finds himself in a relationship with a women who won't tell him what she does for a living. He won't find out until after she has left his life.

A Shinagawa Monkey - A woman begins to have bizarre episodes of forgetting her own name. It's only her name - she doesn't seem to be losing track of anything else. Doctors and psychologists won't help her, as the problem is too odd, and not that severe, by their lights. But then she finds a counselor who can track this down to the source... ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Another in a long line of near perfect storytelling from a master of the contemporary and the magical. ( )
  petescisco | Jan 17, 2016 |
strange but interesting collection of short stories. They will linger with you for a while. good writing style. ( )
  kakadoo202 | Jun 21, 2015 |
I often make the mistake with short story collections of reading them end-to-end, like a novel, so that I am struck by the discontinuity of the tales – which typically have unique provenance separated by many years that were never intended to be housed together. Thus, by the time I finish the collection the stories are just a blur. I took a far different tack with Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami, dipping into it irregularly over many months, savoring each one. Whether it was due to this new approach or because of the quality of the selection, I found Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman a far more satisfying read than The Elephant Vanishes, another collection I read a couple of years back that left me (except for the title story) mostly underwhelmed.
Full disclosure: I have a love-hate relationship with Haruki Murakami, whose novels are usually stirring and well-written yet often lack resolution with critical characters and plotlines so that by the last page the reader is not so much dissatisfied as unsatisfied. Still, Murakami – along with Cormac McCarthy and Richard Flanagan – remains solidly among my top three living authors of fiction. I have read eleven of his eighteen published works, and I just began another, Sputnik Sweetheart, which makes me a serious and perhaps obsessive fan. The first one I read, Kafka on the Shore, was recommended to me by a barista and remains my favorite Murakami novel as well as one of my favorite novels of the new century. I liked the celebrated Norwegian Wood far less, although most fans would take issue with me here. Two others – Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and 1Q84 – were terrific reads that left me so frustrated due to lack of resolution that I gave them less credit than they deserved at the time, yet I have not stopped thinking about either in the years that followed. Side note: I entitled my review of 1Q84 on Amazon in 2013 as “Tedious Epic” and awarded it a mere three stars. Today, despite its flaws, I would revise that to at least four stars and have even considered rereading it. That’s Murakami for you!
Many writers start with short stories and progress to novels, but in the “Introduction to the Eighth Edition” of Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, Murakami reveals that he only began writing short stories after publishing his first two novels, and that he only writes short stories when he is not working on a novel: “The two types of writing may well engage different parts of the brain, and it takes some time to get off one track and switch to the other.” Since I am far from new to Murakami, I set off with a trained eye looking for evidence of such trends, especially curious as to whether patterns in the character development of his protagonists differed from those in his novels, as well as how these may have changed over time: Murakami’s females are generally strong, complex, sometimes flamboyant characters, while the males are often passive, complacent, even dull and wishy-washy, as evinced in Norwegian Wood, Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and 1Q84. I hoped to trace an evolution in this regard, but my edition lacked dates for the stories. Fortunately these days we have Wikipedia, where I learned that the twenty-four tales in this collection were written over the period 1980-2005, as well as where these were published. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_Willow,_Sleeping_Woman]
As it was, my literary “theory of evolution” failed to materialize; although elements of both the characters and techniques apparent in his novels are evident in many of his stories, these barely changed over time. The very early “Firefly” (1983) personifies the weak-willed, complacent male protagonist. (“Firefly” actually gets new life as a segment in the novel Norwegian Wood.) The same can be said for the title story, "Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman" (1983). Most of his stories from this era – about half the collection, many of which appeared in the New Yorker – were not among my favorites, and reading “The Year of Spaghetti" (1981) and "A 'Poor Aunt' Story" (1980) especially kindled memories of the kinds of short stories that were popular in the New Yorker and elsewhere in the 1980s and 1990s by a number of authors of contemporary fiction that usually left me shaking my head at the lack of direction or resolution. The exception is in several early stories – such as “Crabs” (1984) and “Man-Eating Cats” (1991) – that hint at the magical-realism that is later so impressively developed in novels like Kafka on the Shore and 1Q84. My two favorites in the collection are magical-realism all the way: “Dabchick” (1981), which could be the script for an episode of Twilight Zone, and the masterful “The Ice Man” (1991), both of which adeptly mix magic, irony and allegory. More down to earth, it is worth mentioning the extremely well-written “Tony Takitani” (1990) that neatly captures Murakami’s gift for fine story-telling with an ever-present wisp of vague metaphor. I cannot resist pointing out that Murakami’s weird earlobe fetish shows up both in “Birthday Girl” (2002) and “Chance Traveler” (2005). My other favorite stories in the collection were all written in 2005, which perhaps implies that the author hit his stride with short story writing in that year. In addition to “Chance Traveler,” these include “Hanalei Bay,” “Where I’m Likely to Find It,” "The Kidney-Shaped Stone That Moves Every Day,” and the oddball "A Shinagawa Monkey” that strangely reminded me of something from Rudyard Kipling.
If you are a Murakami fan, this collection deserves a read. If you are new to the author, some of these stories may indeed tickle your fancy, although I would recommend instead that you start with one of the novels, such as Kafka on the Shore. Either way, you may find yourself as obsessively hooked as I am, and unable to resist going back for more.


[NOTE: For the uninitiated, a free taste of Murakami -- his outstanding 2014 short story “Scheherazade” – is available online at: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/10/13/scheherazade-3] ( )
  Garp83 | May 17, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
Just as fiction that is purely mundane can be, well, mundane, fiction that is only fantastic is often only dull. Authors such as Paul Auster and Jonathan Carroll are successful precisely because they don't write in one mode or the other, but rather in both, and at the same time. By placing the mundane next to the fantastic these authors are able to show us the beauty of such everyday affairs as coffee or conversation; by placing the fantastic next to the mundane they provide the contrast necessary for readers to discern what makes their fancy other than facile.

No one does this better than Haruki Murakami . . . .
added by dcozy | editThe Japan Times, David Cozy (Dec 3, 2006)
 

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Haruki Murakamiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gabriel, PhilipTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mas, JordiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nolla, AlbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Porta, LourdesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rubin, JayTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Contains

Dabchick (in McSweeney's 4 - EGGERS) by Haruki Murakami

Birthday Girl (Individual Short Story) by Haruki Murakami

New York Mining Disaster (Individual Short Story) by Haruki Murakami

Aeroplane: Or, How He Talked to Himself as if Reciting (Individual Short Story) by Haruki Murakami

The Mirror (Individual Short Story) by Haruki Murakami

A Folklore for my Generation: A Prehistory of Late-Stage Capitalism (Individual Short Story) by Haruki Murakami

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When I closed my eyes, the scent of the wind wafted up towards me.
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Unlike my first friend, who’d killed himself, these friends never had the time to realize that they were dying. For them it was like climbing up a staircase they’d climbed a million times before and suddenly finding a step missing. (New York Mining Disaster)
It strikes me now that most of the girls in my generation--the moderates, you might dub them--whether virgins or not, agonized over the whole issue of sex. They didn't insist that virginity was such a precious thing, nor did they denounce it as some stupid relic of the past. So what actually happened--sorry, but I'm generalizing again--was that they went with the flow. It all depended on the circumstances and the partner. (A Folklore For My Generation: A Pre-history of Late Stage Capitalism)
I had no real impression of her at all. And it's hard to have a bad impression of somebody you have no impression of. (The Year of Spaghetti)
Thinking about spaghetti that boils eternally but is never done is a sad, sad thing. (The Year of Spaghetti)
Can you imaging how astonished the Italians would be if they knew that what they were exporting in 1971 was really loneliness? (The Year of Spaghetti)
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From the surreal to the mundane, an anthology of short fiction captures a full range of human experience, emotion, and relationship in works that chronicle a chance reunion in Italy, a holiday in Hawaii, and a romantic exile in Greece.

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