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Archive for the category “me and my readings”

50 GREAT SHORT STORIES

Or climbing the Everest of reading

You like reading, right? Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here. So, we’ve established that! And, during your amazing journeys as readers, you have come across all kinds of books. The ones you can’t just put down. All Murakami novels for me. I’m a little bit masochistic, I have to admit, I ordered my copy of COLOURLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI AND HIS YEARS OF PILGREMAGE via Amazon, and I will receive it sometime in September. While Kinokuniya is filled with hundreds of copies. That I touched, and soothed with the top of my fingers, oh, guilty pleasures… But I’ll wait for my copy, like waiting for a much missed lover, making the final encounter even more exciting and… I bet some of you know what I’m talking about.

Then there are the books you have to read. Sometimes, in one’s lifetime. Like Joyce’s ULYSSES for me. Which I think I started at least four or five times. But I promise you, I’m going to read it! Sometimes. In this lifetime.

Then there are those books that, no matter what, you simply have to part from after only a few pages. You have to. You know you can use the time you would have wasted with them on other books. Like on one of those you can’t simply put down.

And then there are books like this 50 GREAT SHORT STORIES. On which I wrote, when I bought it, ‘still entertaining the idea of a short story collection of my own’. I like to write on books. When I bought them, where I bought them, what I’m expecting from them. This one I got from a book shop in the Frankfurt airport, on the 5th of July, 2013. I can’t remember, though, what I was doing there. But that’s fine, because this aspect is totally irrelevant to my story.

It’s a big book, almost 600 pages. I’m not such a big fan of big books. Reading them, trying to finish them, I mean, sometimes feels like a long run. Or climbing the Everest. To the base camp. It’s on my bucket list. Like ULYSSES. Shall I detail more? I love it, and I’ll finish it, but it’s tiresome. Somehow.

It’s a beautiful collection! Maupassant, Huxley, Joyce, Hemingway… Huxley’s GIOCONDA SMILE was like a truffle. Do you like truffles? I love them! The story goes smoothly, like a walk in a warm, summer rain. Delicious, never-ending pleasure, undecided skies. Is it how the reading feels, or how I feel Mr. Hutton? Huxley is a master in just dropping a hint of colour, and still managing a perfect profile for his characters, it’s like he’s not the painter, still you can see the portrait in front of your eyes, with every little annoying, still perfect and unforgettable detail… He’s the perfect lover, the sophisticated flirter, the bored husband – personally, I never understood why he married Doris, but, alas, why questioning Huxley? I remember I loved POINT COUNTER POINT so much!

I found another analogy! I love analogies, in case you haven’t concluded it yourselves. And it’s not another analogy, is the first one I thought of while reading the collection. A long corridor. With a lot of doors, both on the right, and on the left. Those of you who saw ROSE RED can picture it better. I’m walking this corridor I cannot see the end of, and this is a little bit scary, so you can maybe understand better my discomfort while reading this book, and I open the door on the right. It’s THE GARDEN PARTY (http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/GardPart.shtml). So beautiful, I stay there, with the door ajar, and I can smell the flowers, and the cookies, and it’s a nice feeling. Except for the death of the poor young man, whose eyes were blind under the closed eyelids.

The next door on the left leads me to Pushkin’s Russia. His short story THE SHOT (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXNlxmA6P5o) is so colourful, it reminds me of a nice book that delighted my childhood, written by another Russian, not as famous as Pushkin, Pyotr Yershov. The volume with THE LITTLE HUMPBACKED HORSE (http://lib.ru/LITRA/ERSHOW/horse.txt_with-big-pictures.html) was full of wonderful drawings, and here I am, digressing… Have you ever imagined, while reading a book, or a short story of a famous writer, have you pictured him at his desk, writing those adventures, bringing those characters to life? Have you? Can you picture Pushkin at his desk, painting those Slavic letters, almost alive under the flickering of the candle light? There’s a blizzard outside, lot of snow and… (this might be the result of too much sun in the Desert…)

I still have 24 stories to read. And I have to admit I opened doors and I closed them shortly after. Maybe I didn’t like the smell, or the light (meaning there were too many words, a weird order, a sensible arrangement of the phrase that I didn’t enjoy. I cannot say for sure.) I preferred to close the door, and opened another one. So, I can’t say for sure that I’ll enjoy all the 24 ones that I still have to open.

Still. The short stories in this volume are real works of art. They are so vivid, and so wonderful, and so full of spectacular adventures that you would really don’t want them to end. So, maybe that endless corridor is not scary and worrying after all. It is more like Forest Gump’s box of chocolate. You will never know what you’re going to get.

 

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1 Q 8 4

It arrived sometime around 12 pm. I’d just called in my Thursday phone conference, when Diann, the pretty lady at the reception, pinged me on Communicator that Aramex was there, but she needed an extra 37 Dirhams, the transportation fee turned to be a little more expenses than my initial estimation. I told the guys in the call I had to excuse myself for a minute, muted the phone, ran hectically to the reception, so excited, so eager, full of a stir I hadn’t felt in years! I’d been waiting for this book for two years! I’d been reading other authors, other novels of his, that I’d read again, and again… Finally, It was here! I could start reading Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84!

I had to calm down. I had a conference to lead. I don’t know how I was able to pull myself together and just… be there, doing my job! The box with the books was a couple of inches away. I had to ignore it. Quite a difficult task for a Libra! A forever incurable Libra, in love with Murakami’s novels!

The conference is over, even sooner than predicted. I hung up the phone, opened up the box and took out the two books: UNDERGROUND and 1Q84.

From now on, I and 1Q84 became inseparable. I kept petting its covers, and its pages. The latter are smooth, velvet-like. On the two covers, two human faces. A lady on the first one, a young gentleman on the last one. 1 and Q cover partially their eyes, the pupils are not visible. Nor the corners of the mouths. The letter and the number are in bold. And they are white. But the book has also a wrapper. It’s a whitish-transparent thick paper. The numbers and the letter are made of the pupils and the corners of the mouths of the two faces. Once you add the wrapper, the face is complete. 1 Q 8 4 seem not to be there anymore, though that cannot be!

The rest of the day was compromised. There was nothing more than the book. I showed it to everybody, told them how much I waited for it, what an amazing novelist Murakami was… I even boasted that, if I could read 200 pages a day, I could finish it during the Eid Holiday.

Then I took it out to meet my friends, over dinner.

Then, finally, at home!

I poured myself a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, lit a cinnamon candle, turned on the stereo, a light violin concert, Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi. The reading is smooth and captivating, like any other reading from Murakami. Something on the coffee table catches my eye. It’s the 1Q84 wrapper I abandoned it there. It’s breathing! I swear! It moves slowly up and down as if… I’m rational enough to realize it’s a draft from the air conditioning. Still… This book is alive! It is! That’s why I was so excited when I got it, as if I’d seen an old friend, or an old lover. Actually, that’s how I introduced it to my friends – guys, meet my Eid holiday lover!

I had been reading so many things about this book! All I wanted was to escape into its world! Every time I was reading a book of Murakami I was there, in his world. With his characters, in their kitchens, preparing breakfast, or having a beer, or I was down, on the bottom of a well, thinking. What would I think about if I were on a bottom of a well and someone stole my ladder? I know for sure I wouldn’t want to be haunted by the same thoughts that keep me up all night. But I’d be smart enough to bring a lantern. And 1Q84. I’m just at page number 6. Long and wonderful way to page 994!

NORWEGIAN WOOD (the movie)

18 Dec 2010

It’s been two days already.

I had seen the trailer again. And… Yes, I think I should see the movie again. And again. Like I read his books. Again, and again. And every time, the book is new! New, alive, unexpected! There’s no first time when it comes to Murakami. Or last time. For the moment, I am reading (again) KAFKA ON THE SHORE, the English version. Two years ago, I read it in Romanian. And I could remember the tomcat, and the bookshop… But anything else is brand new, wonderful, and…

Midori is pacing. Quietly. She looks relaxed. Though… She should be pacing nervously. But no, she’s not nervous. Disappointingly, I would say. The character in the book is much more alive than the one of Tran Anh Hung’s. The director emphasizes a lot on the singing dialog of his characters. He also admits he had to betray the book. Maybe that’s why Murakami is so reluctant of his books being turned into movies: you cannot betray such masterpieces!

Naoko is also pacing. It’s a very nervous pacing. Annoyingly nervous! But the most annoying one is Watanabe. He’s just following her like a puppy. He does nothing!

You can’t get the movie if you didn’t read the book’, I said to Kata when the movie was over. We were heading to the exit. I caught the eye of a young, blond guy. He was looking at me over the shoulder of the women he saw the movie with. He didn’t seem to approve me. He looked a little puzzled himself. As if he could utter in an instant, ‘what’s the movie got to do with the book?’ Quite so!

Watanabe and Midori and Naoko on the screen were Tran Anh Hung’s. And they did not convince too much. Ultimately, they could not have managed to be convincing. And that’s not a bad thing. Or meaningless. Watanabe on the screen resembled a little Watanabe in the book when walking out of the campus, surrounded by students with bats. Or on the cliffs, by the sea, screaming voicelessly his despair. You see him there, you cry with him, but all you can hear are screeching violins. Noisy, screeching violins which scratch your ear drums. And your souls.

I would have liked to see Watanabe eating cucumbers with Midori’s dying father. Or wandering through the dusty shelves of the bookshop. Or watching with Midori the fire burning in a nearby building.

I too think that Murakami’s novels should not be turned into movies.

Nevertheless, I’m so much looking forward to seeing A WHILD SHEEP CHASE and DANCE DANCE DANCE.

NEVER LET ME GO (Japanese Literature Challenge 4)

First thing I thought when I finished reading it was ‘Gosh, what a sad book!’. I was painstakingly reading it for two weeks, dying to know how it ended, but still didn’t want to finish the story, what a beautiful story! But sad, so sad!!

It’d been two pleasant weeks, with Ruth, Kath, Tommy, and their story, their sad and…  I hadn’t read any reviews before, and that was good, cause there were so many points of view about this book, so contradictory, and I know I’ve lost my ability to write beautifully about a book, or a movie, but I’m not sure I even had it, this ability, I mean; I just read what other people write, and then I realize, yeah, I could have said this too, and maybe even better!

I bought the book from a second-hand bookshop here, in Dubai. There was a small and cosy shop just close to the post office, and you could also bring the books back, and you got 50% of its value, if the book was returned in good conditions. Well, I don’t know about the others, but if I buy a book, even a second-hand one, it’s mine! That day I chose Ishiguro, just because I wanted to see if other Japanese novelists are as good as Murakami.

I started reading it a few times. After ten, maybe twenty pages, I would give it up. I couldn’t get what was it with the story of the carers, or the donors, I couldn’t follow Kath’s story, I felt there was too much familiarity between us. Much too soon! The story was too shallow, apparently, the details would slip between my fingers, or they weren’t even there. But, at the end of the day, it was this familiarity, this simple story, the ups and downs, the childish quarrels of the three that finally got me, and turned this novel into a beautiful surprise.

It never crossed my mind that they could have hidden, that they could have never gone back there.  And I think it was because I was one of them, once being told the story, I was like them, Kath would talk to me like I was one of the Hailsham graduates, oh, yes, I remember Madame…

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