I’m in the middle of reading After Dark, a novel by one of my half dozen favorite authors, Haruki Murakami (translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin). I was surprised to find an article this morning in one of the blogs I read about China — this is an interview with the writer in China who translates Murakami’s work into Chinese. This is something that never occurred to me, really — I always think of Murakami as fundamentally Japanese, but with American notes — and to think of him from a new perspective, particularly the Chinese angle, which he writes about some — is really eye-opening for me. Great interview.
Another essay by Murakami in the New York Times this weekend is great — it talks about how he writes like jazz. My favorite bit of the interview is Murakami quoting great jazz pianist Thelonious Monk:
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!”
Fanastic. If you mean a note enough, it will sound different. I’ve always felt that something was different in great works — Murakami’s especially — and maybe this is it — the intensity of meaning, of nuance.
After Dark is good so far, but not my favorite. It takes place in the midnight-to-morning hours of Tokyo after the trains have stopped running. Sorta like Murakami’s “Eyes Wide Shut.” We’ll see how the 2nd half goes.