••• The International Writers Magazine - 23 Years on-line - Review
First Person Singular by Haruki Murakami
Sam North review
A satisfying journey to another world
I’m not usually a short story collection reader but always make an exception for Haruki Murakami’s strange tales, this time translated by Philip Gabriel.
Each story could be an extract from his memoirs but of course, like all good writers, his life is a fiction. They start just after the beginning – so that you are practically eavesdropping on an intimate conversation about missed opportunities for love or career or a moment an old monkey suddenly asks you if you want your back scrubbed… what? Of course it happened, you don’t want to admit it for fear of looking foolish.
Take delight in 'Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey' and smile at the thought of 'Charlie Parker plays Bossa Nova'. There's even an album to prove it...
My favourite quote is from ‘On a Stone Pillow’ - a tale of a young man meeting a girl who is in love with someone else. ‘He calls me whenever he wants my body …. Loving someone is like having a mental illness that’s not covered by health insurance.’
In Murakami’s stories love is elusive, emotions minimal, like the ‘The Stranger’ by Albert Camus – about a man who doesn’t care enough about the death of his mother and is pilloried for it.
This collection reminds me of the first time I encountered Murakami in ‘A Wild Sheep Chase’ and they are all the better for that.
© Sam North May 18th 2022
author of A Cure for Sceptics