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Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (Vintage International)


Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (Vintage International) Cover

ISBN13: 9781400096084
ISBN10: 1400096081
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Blind Willow, Sleeping WomanWhen I closed my eyes, the scent of the wind wafted up toward me. A May wind, swelling up like a piece of fruit, with a rough outer skin, slimy flesh, dozens of seeds. The flesh split open in midair, spraying seeds like gentle buckshot into the bare skin of my arms, leaving behind a faint trace of pain.“What time is it?” my cousin asked me. About eight inches shorter than me, he had to look up when he talked.I glanced at my watch. “Ten twenty.”“Does that watch tell good time?”“Yeah, I think so.”My cousin grabbed my wrist to look at the watch. His slim, smooth fingers were surprisingly strong. “Did it cost a lot?”“No, its pretty cheap,” I said, glancing again at the timetable.No response.My cousin looked confused. The white teeth between his parted lips looked like bones that had atrophied.“Its pretty cheap,” I said, looking right at him, carefully repeating the words. “Its pretty cheap, but it keeps good time.”My cousin nodded silently. My cousin cant hear well out of his right ear. Soon after he went into elementary school he was hit by a baseball and it screwed up his hearing. That doesnt keep him from functioning normally most of the time. He attends a regular school, leads an entirely normal life. In his classroom, he always sits in the front row, on the right, so he can keep his left ear toward the teacher. And his grades arent so bad. The thing is, though, he goes through periods when he can hear sounds pretty well, and periods when he cant. Its cyclical, like the tides. And sometimes, maybe twice a year, he can barely hear anything out of either ear. Its like the silence in his right ear deepens to the point where it crushes out any sound on the left side. When that happens, ordinary life goes out the window and he has to take some time off from school. The doctors are basi- cally stumped. Theyve never seen a case like it, so theres nothing they can do.“Just because a watch is expensive doesnt mean its accurate,” my cousin said, as if trying to convince himself. “I used to have a pretty expensive watch, but it was always off. I got it when I started junior high, but I lost it a year later. Since then Ive gone without a watch. They wont buy me a new one.”“Must be tough to get along without one,” I said.“What?” he asked.“Isnt it hard to get along without a watch?” I repeated, looking right at him.“No, it isnt,” he replied, shaking his head. “Its not like Im living off in the mountains or something. If I want to know the time I just ask somebody.”“True enough,” I said.We were silent again for a while.I knew I should say something more, try to be kind to him, try to make him relax a little until we arrived at the hospital. But it had been five years since I saw him last. In the meanwhile hed grown from nine to fourteen, and Id gone from twenty to twenty-five. And that span of time had created a translucent barrier between us that was hard to traverse. Even when I had to say something, the right words just wouldnt come out. And every time I hesitated, every time I swallowed back something I was about to say, my cousin looked at me with a slightly confused look on his face. His left ear tilted ever so slightly toward me.“What time is it now?” he asked me.“Ten twenty-nine,” I replied.It was ten thirty-two when the bus finally rolled into view. Visit Haruki Murakami's official website to read more from Blind Willow, Sleeping

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Cheri P, March 5, 2015 (view all comments by Cheri P)
I am a fan of Murakami. Kafka on the Shore is one of my favorite novels, and I've enjoyed quite a few others as well. This is my first foray into his short story fiction, though... and I'm not sure what to think about it.

It reads like Murakami. In the novels, I like this "Murakaminess." I've pondered much over the last few days how to describe Murakami's style, and I can't figure out how to put it into words. Sparse. Pragmatic. Something.

The short stories are fine. Some fall flat, others are quite good, but maybe so many stories is a bad thing for me because it really shines a light on how repetitive he can be. Jazz. Adultery. And emotional flatness that seeps into so many of his characters. An "oh well" attitude that just seems, well... empty.

Perhaps these things just don't translate well into English? I don't know. I'll give another short story collection a shot, though.

And his novels? Still working my way through that cannon.
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megcampbell3, November 6, 2007 (view all comments by megcampbell3)
Murakami is a reader's writer, a writer's writer, and above all a master storyteller. One of his ardent readers once told him she preferred his short stories to his novels, and, at the very least, this most recent collection gives any one of his novels a run for its money. Each story is completely absorbing: a broad landscape of the variety of humanity's interactions with happenstance. Murakami can translate the very air of a breath to the page and the page will breathe for us; he is a magician. The career-spanning stories in "Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman" are like a gathering of shells, stones, houseplants and forests out of Murakami's head. It would be a hot (silly) debate as to whether his short stories are actually better than his novels; it'd be like comparing apples to four-star meals (both extraordinary); it all depends on what you have room for.
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Product Details

Murakami, Haruki
Rubin, Jay
Gabriel, Philip
Short Stories (single author)
Short stories, japanese
Murakami, Haruki
Short stories
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Vintage International
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.00x5.26x.81 in. .61 lbs.

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (Vintage International) Used Trade Paper
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Product details 384 pages Vintage - English 9781400096084 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who have never read Haruki Murakami and those who love his books with feverish devotion. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman is a career-spanning collection of short stories guaranteed to amuse, disturb, beguile, and delight both devotees and novices alike.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "[Signature] Reviewed by Lily Tuck One of my favorite Haruki Murakami stories is 'The Elephant Vanishes' — part of an earlier collection published in 1991 — in which the narrator watches as an elephant in a zoo grows smaller and smaller until finally the elephant disappears. No explanation is given, there is no resolution, the vanished elephant remains a mystery at the same time that the narrator's life is changed forever. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, Murakami's new collection of 25 stories, many of which have appeared in the New Yorker and other publications, also describes these epiphanic instances. In the title story, a character who is half deaf, alludes to a John Ford movie, Fort Apache, in which John Wayne tells the newly arrived colonel that if he actually saw some Indians on his way to the fort that means there weren't any. Everything is a bit off — including of course the blind willow trees whose pollen carry flies that burrow inside a sleeping woman's ears — as in a dream, where explanations are always lacking but where interpretations are plentiful. In 'Mirror,' the narrator sees someone who appears to be both himself and not himself in a mirror and then finds out the mirror does not exist; the disaffected woman — a lot of Murakami's characters are handicapped or incapacitated in some physical way — in 'The Shinagawa Monkey,' loses her own name; in 'Man-Eating Cats,' the narrator's girlfriend disappears and as he searches for her finds that 'with each step I took, I felt myself sinking deeper into a quicksand where my identity vanished.' Murakami's stories are difficult to describe and one should, I think, resist attempts to overanalyze them. Their beauty lies in their ephemeral and incantatory qualities and in his uncanny ability to tap into a sort of collective unconscious. In addition, a part of Murakami's genius is that he uses images as plot points, going from image to image, like in the marvelous story 'Airplane,' where, while making love, the narrator imagines strings hanging from the ceiling and how each one might open up a different possibility — good and bad. It is clear that Murakami is well acquainted with the teachings of Buddhism, western philosophies, Jungian theory; he has a deep knowledge of music and, also, I have been told, is a dedicated, strong swimmer. In his stories, he roams freely and convincingly through all these elements (and no doubt many more) without differentiating to create a world where cats talk and elephants disappear. In the introduction to this collection, Murakami writes how, for him, writing a novel is a challenge and how writing short stories is a joy — these stories are a joy for his readers as well. Lily Tuck's most recent novel, The News from Paraguay, won the 2004 National Book Award. " Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, Murakami's first collection of short stories in more than a decade, again demonstrates his fabulous talent for transporting readers and making 'the world fade away' with a few short strokes of his pen....What shines in all of [these stories] is Murakami's love for the open-ended mystery at the core of existence and his willingness to give himself up 'to the flow' in order to capture some of the magic in the mundane." (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
"Review" by , "A warning to new readers of Haruki Murakami: You will become addicted....His newest collection is as enigmatic and sublime as ever."
"Review" by , "Whimsical, magical, daring or sometimes played with the mute in the bell of the trumpet...the best of these linger far beyond the reading of them, creating an aura about the world that for many of us just wasn't present before we read them."
"Review" by , "This collection shows Murakami at his dynamic, organic best....In Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, Murakami demonstrates brilliantly the perils of trying to squeeze life into prefabricated compartments."
"Review" by , "In Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, the 25 stories juxtapose the deeply bizarre with the mundane to evoke fleeting moods of sadness, hope, nostalgia, and dread. (Grade: B+)"
"Review" by , "Readers who fear the short story...need to set hesitations aside here. Murakami is an open-armed, hospitable short story writer [with] a greatly appealing and embracing personal narrative voice....The beauty of the author's prose style seals every story's sharp delivery."
"Review" by , "Murakami's matchless gift for making the unconventional and even the surreal inviting and gratifying creates hard little narrative gems....A superlative display of a great writer's wares. Absolutely essential."
"Review" by , "[A] satisfying, entertaining collection from the writer of the brilliant Kafka on the Shore. It is a solid introduction to the eclectic talents of this master storyteller of the absurd."
"Synopsis" by , Following the bestselling triumph of Kafka on the Shore, Murakami returns with a collection of stories that generously expresses his masterful fiction-writing skills. From the surreal to the mundane, these stories exhibit his ability to transform the full range of the human experience.
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