Three and three quarters of his books later, I believe I’ve finally ascertained the draw I feel toward Haruki Murakami’s writing.
All along I’ve known it was not his stories. I’m not one for surrealist novels or run of the mill boy-meets-girl stories. I’m more of a gory, scare you to death novel reader or a political social commentary novel reader. When the two collude, as they do for Jose Saramago in Blindness and Seeing, my knees weaken.
Murakami does none of this, not directly anyway.Instead, his stories include seemingly mundane main characters that end up in rather fantastical situations as his novels progress. If you’re of the Western Hemisphere and never been introduced the Murakami, essentially, his stories start as Bob Ross without his easel and transition into Anime of the weirdest nature. One of the strangest parts is that he does this so subtly that even realists such as myself begin to believe anything is possible.
But this still isn’t what keeps coming back to Murakami.
What makes me return again and again to his writing is the way it makes me feel. And I mean really feel.
Occasionally we’ve all read that one book that scares the daylights out of you. Once in a great while you might even read a book that, after you’ve finished reading it, sits with you like a Big Mac and large fry does. The best of these leave you questioning your beliefs and reconsidering life. Many of the classics do that. That’s why they are classics. The problem is, Murakami’s books do something different. Sure, if you pull them apart like some Literature major, you’ll find you do question life and civilization in totality. But if you read Murakami for the sheer pleasure of a story, you will still set the book down, at any point in the book, and feel something. You don’t just feel for the character, you feel the character in the bones.
Today, I believe I’ve figured out exactly how he does it.
It’s the voice he uses. Though the vast majority of his stories are written in third person, the voice is subtle. It took over 1200 pages of stories to figure it out.
All his writing reads like a quiet storyteller’s voice. The voice you hear when movies provide quick back story, the voice I can only assume real storytellers used to have when there was no TV or radio. It reads quiet, calm, with a distinct rhythm that pulls you in while lulling you into a trance.
While in that trance, the effects of which remain long after the book is placed on the nightstand, you are left with a sensation only describable as the very sensations the main character was feeling right before you set the book down. You don’t sit there questioning life or thinking anything deep. You simply sit there with that certain lingering feeling that you can neither shake nor explain. *I love it!*
Now that I know the secret, I’m sorely disappointed. There is no way I’ll be able to master these techniques I’m not a storyteller. Likewise, I have no rhythm. All I can hope to do is cheaply imitate like those Sugar Coated Frosty O’s you buy at half the price of Froot Loops. Cheap and looks the same, but it just doesn’t have the same flavor.