On Haruki Murakami and Short Stories as Stars!

I’m pretty sure Justin Howe introduced me to the fiction of Haruki Murakami. If you haven’t read him, do so. Strange and wonderful stories unlike anything you’ll get in most western genre fiction, but with clear links to the work of Jeffrey Ford, Borges, Kafka, and pop culture junkies like Jonathen Lethem.

Except Murakami may be my favorite of all of ’em, at least for now. Every time I read one of his stories, it’s like a fireworks display of talent and imagination. Free, but well executed. Frantic, and yet commanding. Humane without being dominated by character-driven melodrama. If one can be subtle and wild, it’s Murakami.

His wee essay in Blind Willow, Sleeping Women touched my brain, too. He said that he loves short stories as little labs for experimenting and focusing on one element. A great mental exercise arena. When he’s done writing a novel, he works at short fiction, then switches. He compared the two to a forest and a garden.

Rang bells with his old word wrestler. I love the short stuff, but when I’m grappling with a longer narrative, it dominates the horizon until I reach it. Then, I fire the short-story six-gun at the night sky, filling the dark with little diamonds. Some fall back to earth, some stay up.

So go read Haruki Murakami and get inspired to do great things.

JSR

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About ridlerville

Jason S. Ridler is a historian, writer, and improv actor. He is the author of A TRIUMPH FOR SAKURA, BLOOD AND SAWDUST, the Spar Battersea thrillers and has published over sixty stories in such magazines and anthologies as The Big Click, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Out of the Gutter, and more. He also writes the column FXXK WRITING! for Flash Fiction Online. A former punk rock musician and cemetery groundskeeper, Mr. Ridler holds a Ph.D. in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. He lives in Richmond, CA. Visit him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jason.ridler.56
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3 Responses to On Haruki Murakami and Short Stories as Stars!

  1. Mike Zikovitz says:

    I read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle while living in Tokyo. One of my favourite books! I also read Underground, his non-fiction book about the Tokyo Subway gas attacks. Amazing stuff.

    • ridlerville says:

      Hey Mike,

      I’ve got WUBC kicking around somewhere. My supervisor used UNDERGROUND on a course on counter terrorism. Said it was one of the best books on the gas attacks and that weirdo death cult he’d read. Murakami is a mad talent!

      JSR

  2. Justin Howe says:

    After the Quake is my favorite Murakami book. And I agree with everything you said (though naturally I would…) Glad you tracked down the Blind Willow introduction, figured it would ring some bells for you. Reading that collection I’m finidng Murakami reminds me of Ballard in that both deal with similiarly alienated characters. It’s where they go from there that makes them different.

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