Category Archives: .Short Stories

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz

This Is How You Lose HerThus far, mega-award winning Junot Díaz (also recently bestowed the “Genius” moniker by the MacArthur Foundation) hasn’t written a book without his sort-of autobiographical stand-in Yunior de las Casas. Díaz’s 1996 fiction debut, Drownintroduced Yunior through interlinked short stories; a decade-plus later, Díaz turned over full narrative control to his pseudo-alter-ego in his 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winnerThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Yunior stars again in Díaz’s latest award-studded title which, if you choose to stick in your ears, you get the added experience of Díaz’s own narration. Both Drown and Oscar are superbly narrated by Johnathan Davis; here, the switch to Díaz is both disturbing (I know this is fiction, but all that first-person confession seems suddenly heavier) and rewarding (who doesn’t want to hear an author read his/her own writing … uh, except for maybe Michael Ondaatje’s surprisingly disappointing performance of his – also filled with autobiographical overlaps – The Cat’s Table).

Given the title (not to mention the endless fawning media attention), This is not a collection of lovey-dovey happy-endings. Of the nine stories, eight belong to Yunior who has an uncontrollable problem with fidelity. “I’m not a bad guy,” the first story – “The Sun, the Moon, the Stars” – opens, “I’m like everyone else: weak, full of mistakes, but basically good.” His cheated-on girlfriend disagrees: “She considers me a typical Dominican man: a sucio, an a**hole.” Having witnessed his father’s and brother’s wandering ways, Yunior thought he could be otherwise: “You had hoped the gene missed you, skipped a generation, but clearly you were kidding yourself,” he admits in “Miss Lora.” By the final story, “The Cheater’s Guide to Love,” Yunior’s sucio red-letter badge threatens permanence.

Half of Yunior’s eight stories expand his immigrant childhood into searching teenagerhood: the family’s not-so-warm New Jersey reunion with a cold, controlling father in “Invierno”; his brother Rafa’s teenage, testosterone-charged exploits in “Nilda”; Rafa’s leukemia with the neverending complications of his too-active love life in “The Pura Principle”; and Yunior’s own cheating-on-his-high-school-girlfriend extracurricular relationship with an older woman in “Miss Lora.” Yunior’s college and young adult experiences get confessionally aired in “Alma,” “Flaca,” and “The Sun, the Moon, the Stars,” then jumps ahead to Yunior as an almost-middle-aged Harvard professor who, in the novella-length “The Cheater’s Guide to Love,” suffers many wrenching lonely years after his fiancée discovers his staggering, well-documented, on-the-side record and (no surprise) leaves him.

While Yunior commands the spotlight – the majority of the women here are temporary diversions, even the pined-for fiancée – at least two women demand lasting attention: Yunior’s mother who is neglected, oppressed, abandoned, and finally liberated with a Spanglish coven regularly available for prayer and gossip; and Yasmin, the protagonist in the single story that doesn’t belong to Yunior, “Otravida, Otravez,” who is a Dominican immigrant whose lover has a letter-writing wife back in the DR.

Beyond the repetitively bad behavior in every story, Díaz imbues each cheating tale with layered depth, including challenges of immigration and assimilation, absent and abusive parents, isolation, socioeconomic barriers, gender gaps, and racial divides. Indeed, as Yunior proclaims, he’s “not a bad guy”; he’s just a horrible lover, but he can be a caring friend and – thanks to that ex who compiled his exploits into “the Doomsday Book” and mailed it to him with a note, “… for your next book” – he turns out to be quite the provocative storyteller.

Readers: Adult

Published: 2012

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, .Audio, .Fiction, .Short Stories, Carribbean American

Astray by Emma Donoghue

Maybe it’s the craziness of the season, but I’ve really been appreciating short story collections. This latest title from Emma Donoghue – the author of the phenomenal Room – is an intriguingly composed compilation: Donoghue presents a story introduced with a specific city and year, then gives the ‘ripped-from-the-headlines’ historical background that both explains and enhances her fictionalized narrative. Each is part of a centuries-old immigration journey, grouped together in three sections: “Departures,” “In Transit,” and “Arrivals and Aftermaths,” and in the final “Afterword,” Donoghue – herself Irish-born, British PhDed, currently Canada-domiciled – explains “why, on and off, for the last decade and a half, I’ve been writing stories about travels to, within, and occasionally from the United States and Canada.” [If you choose the audible version, you'll get a full cast of effective narrators, but the best reward comes at the end when you get to hear Donoghue herself read the "Afterword" – that leftover lilt is just soooo inviting.]

Like Donoghue who has “gone stray, stepped off some invisible track [she] was meant to follow,” her characters begin in one place and are driven out, run away, move to, or search out somewhere else. In “Man and Boy,” two “self-made prodigies” are willing to accept “[w]hatever Barnum offers” – yes, as in P.T. – and prepare to sail from London in 1882 across the Atlantic toward waiting audiences. A young woman living in 1854 London in dire circumstances in “Onward” finds a surprising benefactor (I hope you’ll be as tickled as I was to learn his identity!) who offers the possibility of a reinvented life in the new world. In “Last Supper at Brown’s,” a slave and his missus flee 1864 Texas, leaving the master “facedown in the okra” (not my favorite veggie, either!).

In “Counting the Days,” plans for reunion between a waiting husband in Canada and his Irish wife and young children are tragically thwarted. A lawless woman of the Wild West captures a wayward prospector, and acting as her own “judge and jury,” decides to return him to his family with a few adventures along the way in “The Long Way Home.” In “The Gift,” a destitute new mother gives up her daughter in 1877 and spends the rest of her life trying to reclaim her. The private lives of a 1639 Cape Cod community are transgressively revealed, then recanted in “The Lost Seed.” And, in my personal favorite, “Daddy’s Girl,” a young woman learns the true identity of her father only upon his death.

Harnessing her own searching spirit, Donoghue ventures through centuries and continents, across oceans and cultures, to present a unique collection of peripatetic characters, each ready to confront, challenge, or flee what life presents next. Be assured: Going rogue never read this good.

Readers: Adult

Published: 2012

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, .Audio, .Fiction, .Short Stories, Canadian, Irish, Nonethnic-specific

Distant View of a Minaret by Alifa Rifaat, translated by Denys Johnson-Davis

Given the monumental (continuous) changes post-Arab Spring, my recent (ongoing) search for women’s voices before and after led me to an unusual writer who defies many expectations of what it means to be internationally literary: Alifa Rifaat lives and works in a traditional Egyptian Muslim society (this collection was first published in English translation almost three decades ago), she does not have a university education (her family married her off instead), she speaks a single language which means her reading is restricted to literature available only in Arabic, and the only time she has left her provincial Egyptian life is for religious pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina.

“At first consideration this would appear an uncompromising background for a writer of fiction,” notes her translator Denys Johnson-Davies (the notable nonagenarian and revered translator of Nobel-ist Naguib Mahfouz, Mahmud Darwish, Tayed Salih, and many more), “yet it is these very limitations that have imposed upon her writing its freshness and actuality. Most of her stories express, implicitly rather than explicitly, a revolt against many of the norms and attitudes, particularly those related to woman and her place in society.” Rifaat’s protests are less political than they are just simply human: men should behave kindly towards women – “as enjoined by the Qur’an” – and when they don’t, women turn to “contempt and rebellion.”

In the titular “Distant View of a Minaret,” a woman long denied fulfillment in marriage surprises herself by calmly pouring herself a cup of coffee immediately after her husband’s death. In “An Incident in the Ghobashi Household,” a woman figures out to save her daughter and therefore her family. In “Badriyya and Her Husband,” a lonely wife whose husband returns from prison, is proverbially “the last to know” but she finally contemplates how she will “find the strength not to open the door to him.” In “My World of the Unknown,” a woman embarks on a mysterious affair that may or may not be real, but more importantly provides her great joy and pleasure. In “The Flat on Nakshabandi Street,” an elderly maiden aunt who lives with her bachelor nephew watches life go by (and plots her daily machinations) from her window seat overlooking the street below.

The majority of Rifaat’s 15 short stories here underline how difficult basic consideration between the sexes seems to be. In her immediate world tightly circumscribed by traditional, religious, and societal expectations, a sense of resigned regret undeniably looms, but lest you dismiss the Rifaat’s writing as bleak and disheartening, be assured that many of the women here find their own ways of surviving, and even thriving.

Tidbit: What a surprise to find the eminent Denys Johnson-Davis on BookDragon (!) as the author of a children’s book, Goha the Wise Fool. Clearly I don’t even know my own content, but Johnson-Davis’ creativity sure is prodigious!

Readers: Adult

Published: 1983, 1985 (United Kingdom), 1987 (United States)

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, .Fiction, .Short Stories, .Translation, Egyptian

Suddenly, a Knock on the Door by Etgar Keret, translated by Miriam Shlesinger, Sondra Silverston, and Nathan Englander

Suddenly, a Knock on the DoorIn spite of quite the impressive creative output including on the page (books, graphic novels, articles) and on celluloid (as both writer and director), I discovered Etgar Keret because of a house – the narrowest house (four feet at its widest!) in the world, wedged in between an apartment building and a postwar co-op in what was once the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw. When the architect, Jakub Szczęsny, imagined the perfect occupant for such a limited space, he thought of Keret because of his very short stories (which marked him as “someone accustomed to working within tight parameters”), as well as his Jewish Polish connections. You can read that house story here, and then discover 35 Keret stories (in less than 200 pages!) in this, his latest collection.

If Door is any indication, Keret’s writing surely defies easy categorization. Robbie finds a hole in the ground in which he can meet the incarnations of his many lies. Orit has to identify the body of a stranger who happens to be her husband even though she’s not married. Miron spends his mornings in a café meeting random people who mistake him for someone else. Ella unzips one lover to find another inside. A black man, a white woman, and a yellow priest confront a silvery, disabled God. Oshri the insurance salesman didn’t have any of his own when a man fell on his head. Ari’s girlfriend only sleeps with men named Ari.

Based on that 1/5 sampling of the collection, words like quirky, zany, wacky, might suffice. But then Keret will surprise you with wrenching: a man commits suicide over unrequited love; a newly widowed woman would rather open her restaurant to be with strangers than mourn alone. He offers even a few glimpses of the almost-mundane: a father who gives in to his willful young son; a woman who plans her husband’s 50th birthday surprise party for which only three near-strangers show up. And then there’s the personal favorite: a documentary filmmaker collecting answers about a talking goldfish which grants three wishes gets inadvertently murdered by a Russian immigrant whose  … uh … talking goldfish convinces him to make a final wish.

To read is to believe, even that which your brain might deem impossible. Keret offers quite the mind-boggling, head-scratching, heart-cracking literary trip, provided in convenient segments just right for our overstimulated, deficit-ed attention spans. Go ahead, answer that knock … let your unexpected journey begin.

Tidbit: Ironically enough, I did not stick Keret’s Door in my ears. I think I really missed something: the stories are read “by an all-star cast” including Ira Glass, Willem Dafoe, Michael Chabon, Nicole Krauss, and Nathan Englander (who also translated some of the stories!)! WOWOWOW! You can currently tune in to a few of the recordings on the homepage of Keret’s website. No clue how long those links will be available, so take advantage now!

Tidbit2: Talk about timing! This came through on my Twitter feed this morning – a five-foot wide house in Manhattan known as the “Spite House,” the story of which could even be a Keret creation!

Readers: Adult

Published: 2012 (United States)

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, .Fiction, .Short Stories, .Translation, Israeli

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro

How wrenchingly ironic that this was the book I happened to be reading when I learned of a sudden death in our family. On the flight, in the car, during the rare moments of aloneness over the last four days, Kazuo Ishiguro’s stories that spoke of lost chances and endings provided an ideal counterpoint – both gentle and piercing – to the maelstrom of required public and private events of mourning.

Nocturnes – Ishiguro’s only short story collection thus far, as well as his latest title – is comprised of five stories in which music plays a principal role. Some are interlinked: two share characters, two share locations. In the opening “Crooner,” a young guitarist is hired by once legendary singer Tony Gardner – who was the guitarist’s mother’s favorite star – to play underneath Gardner’s wife’s open window as Gardner sings her love songs on the final evening of their bittersweet Venetian vacation. Lindy Gardner, that very wife who is now divorced, reappears in the (singular) “Nocturne,” recovering from cosmetic surgery in a posh Los Angeles hotel, sharing musical adventures with a saxophone player whose agent, soon-to-be ex-wife, and her lover convince the gifted musician that his less-than-gorgeous looks are the only obstacle to major success. In the finale, “Cellists,” the story returns to Venice, perhaps to the same transient band in “Crooners,” in which possibly another member – this time a Hungarian cellist – meets another American musician who nurtures and refines his already considerable talents … but to what end?

Of the remaining two pieces not linked to the three above, both feature troubled ménage à trois-of-sorts: “Come Rain or Come Shine” examines a trio-friendship decades after its university beginnings, in which the loner – a jazz purist – visits the couple on the verge of separation; in “Malvern Hills,” a struggling young British musician finds himself unexpectedly, intimately wedged in between a Swiss couple on their countryside holiday.

For Ishiguro devotees, Nocturnes might prove to be lighter fare than his six previous novels (and, yes, I’ve read each with fervent reverence). While each of the brief movements of this quintet are memorably haunting, the short story form just doesn’t allow enough space for the soulful, detailed, exquisite explorations that define Ishiguro’s longer work. That said, for an enhanced experience, I highly recommend the narrated version, made noteworthy with careful phrasing and added accents, especially as voiced by Mark Bramhall who begins and ends the audible collection.

Read (or listen) … the best music will always move you to tears, no?

Readers: Adult

Published: 2009

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, .Audio, .Fiction, .Short Stories, British, British Asian

Stories 1 • 2 • 3 • 4 by Eugène Ionesco, illustrated and translated by Etienne Delessert

How strange to admit that Dave Eggers taught me Eugène Ionesco – Mr. Theatre of the Absurd himself – wrote kiddie stories in addition to his dozens of plays (Rhinoceros, The Chairs, The Bald Soprano, being some of his signature pieces). Eggers founded McSweeney’s which recently debuted McMullens, their new imprint just for children’s titles, which published Stories 1 • 2 • 3 • 4 last month. Being a product of Eggers/McSweeney’s/McMullens’ collective imaginations – and, of course, the source material being Ionescoean (is that a word?) – this is no ordinary kiddie book!

Let’s start with the delightfully ingenious cover: that’s not just a jacket flap to protect the book … it folds out to a spectacular poster (pages 74 and 75, gorgeously magnified) on one side, while the other side captures “Story 3″ around the four edges of the oversized square with the book’s actual front and back cover in the middle. Not quite getting the unique picture? Really, this you need to see – and appreciate, fold by fold – for yourself!

Inside, the four stories follow the winsome adventures of a “thirty-three months old” girl named Josette. In “Story 1,” while Mama rests, Papa tells Josette a story so silly that the maid seems to need to wear a ring bearing the name and image of philosopher/mathematician René Descartes to ward off Papa’s utter nonsense. In “Story 2,” while Mama is out, “Papa teaches Josette the real meaning of words” – the telephone is cheese, cheese is a music box, a music box is a rug … and so on. While Mama bathes, Papa takes Josette on a fabulous flying machine in “Story 3,” without ever leaving his cozy warm bed. In the final “Story 4,” Papa stays behind the safety of the closed bathroom door while he sends adventurous Josette on a search near and far, just until Mama returns.

Artist Etienne Delessert, who has written and illustrated over 80 books (!), matches Ionesco’s stories with irresistible art on every page. From fantastical creatures (a walking fish named Darwin, of course) to clever details (the grocer’s shop in “Story 1″ is named “E. Ionesco I,” while the building’s number “69-09″ seemingly refers to the tale’s original French publication), Delessert colorful efforts superbly enhance Ionesco’s bewitching stories that celebrate the unfettered imagination. Most importantly, in wink-wink homage to Ionesco’s drama, Delessert never lets the rhinoceros wander far from the page …

Readers: Children, Middle Grade

Published: 1969-1976, 2012 (United States)

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Filed under ..Children/Picture Books, ..Middle Grade Readers, .Fiction, .Short Stories, .Translation, European

Sorry Please Thank You Stories by Charles Yu

Charles Yu’s stories are indescribable. Really. Every time I picked up this recent collection, my face broke out in a goofy, uncertain grin, because I was totally unsure of what I might encounter next.

Here’s what I can tell you …

Thirteen stories are divided into four categories: Sorry, Please, Thank You, All of the Above. The utter commonplace nature of those words are in sharp contrast to the surreal tales contained within. In “Standard Loneliness Package” – my personal favorite – a young man works in a whole new sort of call center in Bangalore, India, where any and all unwanted emotions can be outsourced: “Don’t feel like having a bad day? Let someone else have it for you.” In “First Person Shooter,” a lovelorn young man working “the graveyard shift at WorldMart” helps a zombie “pull together a decent-looking outfit.” In “Hero Absorbs Major Damage,” a chicken-craving warrior and his quickly debilitating army just might be at the mercy of a 9-year-old god “whose mom keeps yelling at him to clean up his room.” In “Yeoman” (which surely is doing the wink, wink nod at Star Trek‘s randy Captain Kirk), a man with an eight-months-pregnant wife faces death at the end of the week – because that’s just part of his job. In “Adult Contemporary,” a would-be homebuyer tries to escape the controlling narrator in his own head.

You could definitely just read each of the 13 stories as pieces of quirky entertainment and be contentedly done. But by book’s end, you’d be hard-pressed not to be disturbed by a heavy sense of disconnect. Outsourced feelings, a device to store your wishes and desires, a guide to “extended family relationships,” the self separated from an “alternate self,” the latest “God pill” … as sci-fi as some of that initially sounds, Yu’s imagined worlds are sharply unsettling commentary on our lives now, with too many of our children wandering cyberspace, our thousands of virtual ‘friends,’ our genetically-modified foods, our designer drugs, and on and on.

While his work defies labels and categorization, Yu himself has been part of the literary elite since 2007 when he was named one of the “5 Under 35” by the National Book Foundation, presenters of the National Book Awards. With two collections and a novel already praised, prized, and awarded, imagine what Yu will do by the time he’s 55.

Readers: Adult

Published: 2012

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, .Fiction, .Short Stories, Taiwanese American

Aerogrammes and Other Stories by Tania James

Thankfully, ‘sophomore slump’ is not part of Tania James‘ vocabulary. In fact, her second book is even better than her 2009 debut novel Atlas of Unknowns. And as rare as consistency can be in collections, James manages to sustain an unwavering level of resonating quality throughout each of the nine stories in Aerogrammes: each story is a world unto itself, standing fully formed with little lacking.

“What to Do with Henry,” the collection’s second story, stands out as a personal favorite; it was such a surprise of lingering poignancy that I’m actually loathe to tell you much about it – readers deserve to discover it without any intervention. Suffice it to say, “Henry” is a strikingly haunting tale of an unconventional family’s disconnect in the midst of our overconnected, global world.

Indeed, that sense of disconnect emanates from all nine stories, as characters criss-cross the globe from England to India to Sierra Leone to cities across the U.S.: a pair of Indian wrestler brothers seeks glory in London in “Lion and Panther in London,” a young girl tries to understand her estranged father who has returned to the family from Dubai in “The Gulf,” two elderly residents with vastly different backgrounds try to ease the isolation of their lives with each other in the titular “Aerogrammes,” a single, middle-aged dance teacher makes a desperate hypocrite of herself in “Light and Luminous,” and a struggling young writer tries to come to terms with his older brother’s devastating new paralysis.

I admit that Aerogrammes took a couple of months to read … albeit with good reason. With less than 200 pages, the slim volume moves far too quickly, which means a patient, well-paced savoring of story by story might be the best mode for lasting appreciation.

Readers: Adult

Published: 2012

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, .Fiction, .Short Stories, Indian American, South Asian American

People Are Strange: Stories by Eric Gamalinda

Eric Gamalinda and I overlapped in New York City in the 1990s, when I knew (of) him more as a poet. I should know better (blame it on youth!) than to label him by genre, because clearly Gamalinda is a multi-faceted writer (as well as a playwright, filmmaker, photographer, and more): he was shortlisted for the big-deal 2009 Man Asian Literary Prize for his novel The Descartes Highlands (which doesn’t seem to be available Stateside), and won the Philippine Centennial Literary Prize (which, according to his bio, is “the highest award ever given to a Filipino writer”), as well as the Philippine National Book Award. Gamalinda’s new collection makes a complementary companion to Lysley Tenorio‘s remarkable debut, Monstress, which hit shelves in February; both offer eight contemporary stories that draw on the authors’ shared Filipino heritage and their hybrid identities as foreign-born writers living and creating on the other side of the world.

Out this month, People Are Strange includes six stories which have been previously published elsewhere. The oldest (publication history-wise) is the bittersweet “Fear of Heights,” which appeared in Harper’s Magazine in 1995, about a fortune-teller who shares “a few trade secrets,” crashing puns intended. The most recent is the entertainingly ironic “Famous Literary Frauds” which ran in the winter/spring 2011 issue of the Asian American Literary Reviewin which a Filipino writer can only get published in the guise of his beautiful, young student who becomes a high-wattage literary celebrity with the writer’s works.

Of the two unpublished-before stories, “Yes, Jesus Loves Me” – which is the collection’s final and most personal piece – focuses on the history of a familial Jesus, Gamalinda’s grandfather, who died more than three decades before Gamalinda was born. [For some reason, I felt compelled to google my way through the story: I admit knowing the 'real'-ness of Gamalinda's relatives, his grandfather's Philippines Supreme Court Justice-mentor, his grandfather's law firm, etc. added a satisfying poignancy.] Through the “pleasure of storytelling,” Gamalinda reconstructs the personal story of a man he never knew – and the other-worldly pact he made with two close friends before he died.

Gamalinda’s ‘strange people’ – an adopted Marcos “son,” a dead man sending emails to his ex-wife, the Elvis of Manila, a fictional Eric Gamalinda who can change skin color at will, a murderous fly-killer – are all feats of imaginative invention, albeit with varying degrees of curious behaviors, characteristics, choices. Their strangeness ultimately makes them more uniquely human, each searching for connection in a disjointed, scattered world.

Readers: Adult

Published: 2012

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, .Fiction, .Short Stories, Filipino/a, Filipino/a American, Southeast Asian, Southeast Asian American

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: 24 Stories by Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel

Another confession: While recently listening to Rupert Degas narrate parts of Hari Kunzru’s Gods without Men, I got such a nostalgic pang to hear Degas read Haruki Murakami (after experiencing A Wild Sheep ChaseThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and select stories from The Elephant Vanishes thus far in Degas’ voice, I’ve been duly conditioned, in spite of his inexcusable mispronunciation of many Japanese words and names!), that I downloaded the last Murakami title I had left unread, only to realize that Blind Willow is narrated by two others. I am fairly certain that this is the only Murakami book that Patrick Lawlor and Ellen Archer have narrated thus far; overall both read their respective stories well enough (the vast majority of the stories are read by Lawlor), although both should definitely have requested a pronunciation lesson – really, how hard could that be??!! Ack, don’t get me started!

While not always certain of narrative outcome – inexplicable happenings, non-sequitur action, vanishing characters – I ironically find such comfort in reading (or listening) to Murakami’s novels and short stories. If some of these 24 stories seem familiar, you might have encountered them in the usual highbrow publications like Granta, Harper’s, The New Yorker. And if you’ve read other Murakami novels, you might actually recognize the story “Firefly” from Norwegian Wood and “Man-Eating Cats” from Sputnik Sweetheart, as Murakami explains in an introduction specifically for this edition in English. Murakami also shares numerous revealing comments about his writing process, starting with “… I find writing novels a challenge, writing short stories a joy.”

As Murakami declares, “… not every short story is a masterpiece,” some here are admittedly more memorable than others. All, however, are unmistakably Murakami, because each captures something utterly unexpected: a friend who likes to ride out typhoons in a zoo, covered in a Vietnam-era army surplus poncho with two beers in his pockets (“New York Mining Disaster”), a man who lives without mirrors in his home because a mirror he once saw actually never existed (“The Mirror”), a palm-sized dabchick (a kind of water bird – I had to look it up) with a toothache thinking about death (“Dabchick”), a poor aunt who appears on a man’s back in the middle of August (“A ‘Poor Aunt’ Story”), a man who decides to eat only spaghetti during the year 1971 (“The Year of Spaghetti”), a disappearing lover who turns out to be a tightrope walker between tall buildings (“The Kidney Shaped Stone”), and obviously many more.

If I had to choose a favorite or two, I’d say “Halalei Bay” about a woman who loses her teenage surfer son because of a shark attack and “A Shinagawa Monkey” about a woman who suddenly cannot remember her own name. But then again, the story I’m pondering over most repeatedly is “Where I’m Likely to Find It,” about an investigator trying to figure out what happened to a man who vanished between two floors in his apartment building.

That ever-pondering feeling is not unlike the reaction I have to every Murakami title (with the exception of his uncharacteristically straight-forward What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir). It’s a rather addictive reaction, truth be told … his narratives never quite leave you alone, and you just want to definitively know what happened. It’s literal possession …

Readers: Adult

Published: 2006 (United States)

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, .Audio, .Fiction, .Short Stories, .Translation, Japanese