So I met Murakami…

Not really, but he’s been my obsession lately.  Really, ever since reading 1Q84 back in October.

It’s a wonderful thing when a book lover comes across a new favorite writer.  Rather rare for me.  So when I found Haruki Murakami, I was very happy to see that his list of published books is quite long.  It’s been awhile since I’ve found an author that really speaks to me.  I can think of three that have had a profound effect on my mind:

1) Anne Rice

2) Virginia Woolf

3) Haruki Murakami

It wasn’t until this last discovery that I realized why it is that these authors have a particular influence on me.  They have something very specific in common.  The protagonists are always internally conflicted, and usually about very important things.

For example, Lestat de Lioncourt (the main character in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles) is not sure about the existence of God and, therefore, whether he is evil or not.  Does he have an obligation to only kill bad people?  Does it matter at all what he does?  As he tells Louis, “Evil is a point of view.”  Or is it?

Virginia Woolf, as most people know, was an extremely depressed person. She drowned herself when she was 59.  She’s a wonder for holding out so long.  It’s obvious she was struggling for quite some time.  Her books were an insight into a cluttered, confused mind that couldn’t keep track of reality (for a great example of this in her work, check out The Waves).  She was severely conflicted herself, and that comes through in her writing.

And then I come to Murakami.  I’ve read three of his novels so far, and am almost through Dance Dance Dance.  There is a strain of fantasy in some of his writing, but it doesn’t diminish the humanity of his characters.  These characters struggle with depression and sometimes cannot grasp the difference between reality and fantasy.

I don’t have it completely figured out yet.  I’m still puzzling out why I love certain books and despise others.  However, it’s now clear to me what kinds of characters I identify with, and that should make my search for further reading much easier.


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