Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sam Anderson's Haruki Murakami

Photo by Nobuyoshi Araki
New York Times

If you want to read some good writing on a good writer, go to Sam Anderson's long piece for the New York Times Magazine on "The Fierce Imagination of Haruki Murakami" (October 21, 2011). It's clever, humorous, and eminently readable. Also imminently readable if you just click here. I had my daughter Sa-Rah read it aloud to me for her English lesson the other day, and she commented that it was fun to read even if it was supposed to be educational. We both remarked on this passage by Anderson describing Murakami's decision to become a writer:
His career as a writer began in classic Murakami style: out of nowhere, in the most ordinary possible setting, a mystical truth suddenly descended upon him and changed his life forever. Murakami, age 29, was sitting in the outfield at his local baseball stadium, drinking a beer, when a batter -- an American transplant named Dave Hilton -- hit a double. It was a normal-­enough play, but as the ball flew through the air, an epiphany struck Murakami. He realized, suddenly, that he could write a novel. He had never felt a serious desire to do so before, but now it was overwhelming. And so he did: after the game, he went to a bookstore, bought a pen and some paper and over the next couple of months produced "Hear the Wind Sing," a slim, elliptical tale of a nameless 21-year-old narrator, his friend called the Rat and a four-fingered woman.

That passage flows so well. But it also describes something inexplicable and worth knowing about, an anecdote to relate at dinner parties among erudite friends or beery sessions with aimless youth. How does Murakami himself remember the moment? Read here:
I remember that Yasuda was pitching for the Swallows. He was a short, stocky sort of pitcher with a wicked curve. He easily retired the side in the top of the first inning, and in the bottom of the inning the leadoff batter for the Swallows was Dave Hilton, a young American player new to the team. Hilton got a hit down the left field line. The crack of bat meeting ball right on the sweet spot echoed through the stadium. Hilton easily rounded first and pulled up to second. And it was at that exact moment that a thought struck me: "You know what? I could try writing a novel."

That's from Murakami's book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, but I read it in the New York Times interactive on "Murakami's Tokyo," which accompanies Anderson's article.

I need to read more by both Anderson and Murakami . . .

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