Originally uploaded by slothmuffin
My DVD player randomly broke back in April, and I haven't felt like buying a new one yet, so I've been reading more. (Eventually I'll cave and buy a new DVD player. But not just yet.) Last night/this afternoon's reading material was Haruki Murakami's After Dark, which is his most recent novel. I've read a few of Murakami's novels, and I'm always a bit ambivalent about them. While I find his writing (and Jay Rubin's translating, which is beautiful) pretty amazing, there are always these---I don't even know what word to use. Mystical? Magical? Paranormal? Supernatural?---elements in his novels that make me feel like I'm sort of...not exactly getting what he's doing.
I also wish that his books had notes about Japanese culture. I was reading this manga, xxxHolic, for a while, and that had wonderful footnotes explaining about the weather in Japan and what that means re: house design and Japanese food and holidays and mythical creatures. I was never a huge Japan enthusiast (a lot of my friends in high school were, since they were super-into anime), so my knowledge is negligible and I know I'm missing out on some of the nuances of Murakami's stories.
None of this stopped me from reading After Dark in a couple sittings and adoring it, though. I could have spent a lot longer reading about some of the characters in the book. The whole thing takes place from nearly-midnight to dawn on one day, and there's something that Murakami really captured about the way everything feels at these odd hours of the night/morning/whatever you want to call it. I miss that time of day. In college, I was always up crazy late, generally because I was procrastinating and making myself miserable over papers I should have been writing and wasn't. Despite that, I have a lot of fond memories from the time between midnight and like, six AM. I miss the way those hours feel, the weird (but not usually unpleasant) isolation of them, the way things look or sound different. So this novel was like a portal back to that, for me, except more interesting.
Also, the opening of the book is set in Denny's---who knew they had Denny's in Japan?