“You are the author and I hate to ask, but what is this story about? What is the topic? ”Haruki Murakami, self-ironically, wrote the confused questions of his lecturer – and the possible confusion of other readers – into his book with his own hand. Indeed, it is difficult to say what the stories in his latest volume are about. At the same time, the title seems so clear in grammar: “First Person Singular”, which could offer offensive autobiographical elements from the Japanese great writer who systematically plays with the traces of the self in his magical realism.
But Murakami’s art, cultivated over four decades, is of course far too refined for that. What comes across ostensibly like nine stories of elegant linguistic simplicity, loosely linked to the familiar concept of the novella about an unheard-of incident, traces the mere premonition of significance over and over again. This is awakened by incidents that create or deny identity, which take place almost below the threshold of attention or memory and are told – that is, invented – ex post. The y always leave the narrator with his questions of meaning without answers.
If he is sitting in a hot sulfur spring and having a talking monkey scrub his back, it doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience. Fogged by the steam, the first-person narrator doesn’t really know what is actually, what is imaginary, but presents the monkey as a real, non-figurative figure and soaps us readers all the more pleasurably. The primacy has to admit hair-raising things, semiotic unscrupulousness of which writers can only dream: the animal does not need more than the name of a loved one, always a female person, for platonic attacks of an amorous nature, which separate the sign of the swarmed from the designated. Instead of putting Lancan’s sentences about desire into the mouth of the mythomanic monkey, an animal symbolicum that has got ethologically between the genre boundaries, Murakami lets him spread heartwarming calendar wisdom: “I believe that love is the fuel that keeps us alive. “Who wanted to contradict?
In a circle with many centers
This short story alone is not new, but appeared in German in 2006 in the anthology “Blinde Weide, Schlafende Frau”, also translated by Ursula Gräfe. With her fantastic joy in telling stories, she transcends the real-biographical framework of the other stories, but is rightly assigned to them. Each moves in the narrow gap between words and things – or people. In this dreamily indeterminate space, a possible quintessence, a moral of the story or the meaning of the whole thing, touches the narrator fleetingly like a shadow.
In the story “Crème de la crème”, which is about an invitation leading first to nowhere, then next to a prophetic old man, Murakami finds the beautiful image of the “circle with many centers”. In the cheat story “Carnaval”, carried as a leitmotif by the characters’ enthusiasm for Robert Schumann’s piano cycle of the same name, he formulates: “His playing does not tear the mask off anyone’s face, but rather, like a gentle breeze, blows through the gap between mask and real face.” That applies also for Murakami’s writing.
Look into your own past: Haruki Murakami.
The music and the faces in general: the latter, like the names of past lovers, blur in the memory beyond recognition or are aggressively left out or denied – in a sense Murakami beheads many of his characters, especially the female ones. The music, on the other hand, acts as a pacemaker for the narrative, which is wistfully directed towards youth days. Murakami without the passion for classical music, jazz and baseball? Unthinkable. It’s wonderful how he, returning to his beginnings as an author, celebrates the creative power of the words in “Charlie Parker plays Bossa Nova”: Years later, the review of an apparently fictional record in a New York shop turns into a boomerang years later rushes by so quickly that no one other than the narrator can see him. “With
The Beatles” contains a similar epiphany, accompanied by the confession that I never really liked the music of the “Fab Four”. But to them – Murakami was born in 1949 – he owes more than the sound of a phase of life, namely this one radiant moment that shines far into the future. When the narrator sees a beautiful girl with a Beatles LP walking past in high school in 1964, “a little bell” rings in his ears, while the following romance with another is accompanied by vague silence, finally deathly silence.
The older someone who remembers gets, the more riddled with losses the past is. It is no different with Murakami.
The young people of yore have become seniors – an incomprehensibility like so much, actually everything in life.
The turning points of our own path are reflected in historical epoch years: 1968 was “the year in which ‘I Only Live Twice’ was a huge hit by the Folk Crusaders, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were murdered and students occupied Shinjuku station on International Anti-War Day “. But it was also “the year in which Haruki Murakami became a fan of the Sankei Atoms”: a baseball team that was notoriously on the losing side, which was able to give poetic lessons for life because of this. In retrospect, in the maze of everyday life, what turned out to be a decisive event becomes meaningful. Hardly anyone can feel the nothingness in which everything that follows can be laid out as masterfully as Haruki Murakami.