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Tenzing Sonam
Confessions of a Murakami junkie
   
     
  December 1, 2002
  The Hindu

 

For a realistic person, Haruki Murakami writes weird stories. And life wasn't the same after they crash-landed into TENZING SONAM'S world. A narrative of his adventures in the labyrinth of the subconscious, with Murakami as the lead explorer.

 
 

 

HARUKI MURAKAMI'S sweetly deceptive Sputnik Sweetheart crash-landed into my life like an out-of-control rocket. Before I knew it, my world had exploded and for the next few months I was devouring his novels like an addict running out of fixes.

If you ask me to name all the books I read in quick succession after that first, earth-shattering encounter - grabbing whatever came to hand, with no regard to order or chronology - I could rattle them off without a pause: Norwegian Wood, South of the Border, West of the Sun, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, The Elephant Vanishes... But if you asked me to tell you what it was about these books that so completely consumed me, I would have to grope in the dark, like a Murakami character, tracing long-forgotten hieroglyphics and enigmatic patterns, strangely comforting, oddly familiar, but with no name or description to put a word to.

 

How do you describe a Murakami novel? Take one part hard-boiled detective fiction la Raymond Chandler, throw in some Philip K. Dick, add a dash of Kafka, a sprinkling of Borges, and for good measure, shake the whole thing up with lots of oddball love and sex and... well, you get the idea.

To read a Murakami novel is to be immersed into an experience, to journey into a world that is at once familiar and utterly mysterious.
 
 

 

Superficially, this world is usually Tokyo but in reality, it is a chthonian alter-universe, a labyrinth of the subconscious, where Murakami is simply the lead explorer, as shocked and confounded as we are by the unexpected glimpses thrown up by the wandering arc of his flashlight. In an interview, he once said, "I write weird stories. I don't know why I like weirdness so much.

 

Myself, I'm a very realistic person. I don't trust anything New Age... or reincarnation, dreams, Tarot, horoscopes. I don't trust anything like that at all. I wake up at 6 in the morning and go to bed at 10, jogging every day and swimming, eating healthy food. I'm very realistic. But when I write, I write weird. That's very strange. When I'm getting more and more serious, I'm getting more and more weird. When I want to write about the reality of society and the world, it gets weird. Many people ask me why, and I can't answer that." Murakami's books are certainly weird and it is this "weirdness" factor that gives them their unique quality and makes them so addictive, a bit like watching a soap opera by David Lynch... which, come to think of it, wouldn't be that far-fetched as Lynch is one of many influences that Murakami cites. But his books are also hip, funny, sad and deeply moving.
 
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01/stories/2002120100420500.htm