Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: 03/01/08
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman is the first book by Haruki Murakami I've had the pleasure of reading. It won't be the last. This slim book contains twenty-four short stories that range from subtle character studies of ordinary folks to journeys into the surreal.
These stories were translated beautifully by Philip Gabriel and Jay Rubin who have translated many of his other books. Gabriel did the English translation of Kafka on the Shore, for example.
My favorite story is "Chance Traveler" which recounts a series of coincidences. First the author injects himself into the story explaining his weird moments with jazz and from there launches into a wonderful story about a piano turner who ends up reconnecting with his sister after the meeting with a stranger. "Chance Traveler" captures the magic of serendipity and how it inspires our some of our most important actions in life.
Another story that tickled my fancy was the more surreal "Dabchick" that has a wonderful Twilight Zone pay off. It's a completely silly story and written for laughs just as Asimov's "Shah Guido G" was.
My least favorite was "A Perfect Day for Kangaroos" because the characters didn't understand kangaroos. Like all marsupials, kangaroos are born extremely premature. A kangaroo joey won't leave the pouch until it is at least 3 to 4 months old, not 1 month old as described in the story.
The entire list of stories is: