Jottings about three Murakami Haruki stories published in The New Yorker

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Murakami Haruki (1949-) has often before frustrated me. Despite my suspicions, I was drawn into his story in the 10/14/2014 New Yorker, “Scheherazade,” though its title did not reassure me. I was not surprised at the lack of a real ending—it is a New Yorker story, it is Murakami. Why the narrator is seemingly imprisoned in a house (supplied with food, books, DVDs, CDs) remains a mystery and after a petering-out ending, there is a teaser that there is more to the story. Perhaps, some day Murakami will continue the story of Scheherazade and the boy with whom she was obsessed when she was 17, breaking into (well using a not very hidden key to get into) his bedroom and “trading” objects, before stealing a sweat-drenched t-shirt from the dirty clothes hamper downstairs. She also recalls an earlier life as a lamprey eel, and provides Habara, the narrator, with regular sex, though it is only impassioned after she tells him about the once-fetishized t-shirt.

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I’m starting to think of story endings as like dismounts in gymnastics, that is, as difficult as the routine and often muffed. I wouldn’t say that Haruki Murakami muffs the ending or stumbles at the inconclusive finish of his story in the current 6/9/2014) New Yorker, “Yesterday,” but, like so many New Yorker stories as to be a hallmark of a “New Yorker story,” there is not a solid ending Murakami provides some entertainment along the way with quirky characters and odd situations. I was particularly amused by the narrator’s response to his friend’s speculations about desires (the friend’s): “Other people’s masturbation habits were beyond me. There were things about my own that I couldn’t fathom.” (The statement amuses  me: though I may not fathom why others desire what they do, I am fascinated by trying to understand how the desires of others go. I am more frustrated at not being able to explain and generalize.)

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Murakami’s “A Shingawa Monkey”(in 3/19/2007 New Yorker) has an epiphany (after a surprise to the problem of Mizuki Ando’s disconcertingly difficulty remembering her name.

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I have read a couple of Harukami novels, but not written about them.

I am holding off beginning a trek through the often frustrating movies made by Ôshima Nagasi for a week during which I’ll be traveling.

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