Friday, July 06, 2007

Understanding Haruki Murakami

I have several books by Haruki Murakami. The more I read his writing, the more I love his writing. I must admit though that this attraction wasn't instantaneous. I first read Norwegian Wood and thought, "that was nice." The impact of his writing didn't strike me until months later when I found myself still thinking about that novel. After reading a recent essay by Murakami, I now understand the attraction and why it took me awhile to realize how much I like his works. It's like jazz music ... which doesn't always strike you immediately, but rather, grows on you. In fact, Murakami admits that his writing is influenced by his love of jazz music. Murakami's writing style is to take the words swirling around in his head (his "music") and give those words rhythm, melody, harmony, and finally free improvisation in the hope of "reaching a place that is new and meaningful."

I'll leave you with Murakmi's own words about writing:

One of my all-time favorite jazz pianists is Thelonious Monk. Once, when someone asked him how he managed to get a certain special sound out of the piano, Monk pointed to the keyboard and said: “It can’t be any new note. When you look at the keyboard, all the notes are there already. But if you mean a note enough, it will sound different. You got to pick the notes you really mean!”

I often recall these words when I am writing, and I think to myself, “It’s true. There aren’t any new words. Our job is to give new meanings and special overtones to absolutely ordinary words.” I find the thought reassuring. It means that vast, unknown stretches still lie before us, fertile territories just waiting for us to cultivate them.
From the essay "Jazz Messenger" by Haruki Murakami posted in the online version of the New York Times Sunday Book Review dated July 8, 2007

Reviews of Murakami's work can be found at:
Books 'N Border Collies (Lezlie) - Review of After Dark


  1. Wow! Sounds like an amazing writer and person. I will have to check him out. The wise always intrigue me!
    (which is why I like reading your blog!)

  2. Momish, Thank you for the compliment. It must be all the grey hair coming in fast and furiously -- it "ups" the wisdom level ;o)

  3. This is precisely why I don't rate books on my blog. I may have just thought a book was OK when I read it, but it turns out to be unforgettable. Or I completely forget about a book I thought I *loved* while I was reading it. I'm always fascinated by later feelings about books we've read. Sometimes I'm afraid to re-read something for fear I'll decide it wasn't so good after all, but I have no problems with re-reading something I didn't like to see if I feel differently. Weird. :-)