Blog :rhymes and rubbish
Date: 8/8/2012 5:08:45 PM
Call it unfortunate literary ignorance or a deliberate miss to avoid reading complicated literature, but discovering Haruki Murakami years after he and his books have been around, has been one of the best things that has happened to me in the recent past.
I debuted with Sputnik Sweetheart, written by him in 1999 and translated by Philip Gabriel in 2001, which tells the story of Sumire, Miu and K. ‘I loved it!’ would be an understatement so pardon me while I bore you with an overwhelming appreciation of the story, the narrative, the metaphors, the inexplicable innuendos, the characters, and lastly the use of symbols.
Sumire and K are very good friends. Sumire is struggling to become a novelist, and K besides being hopelessly in love with her, is a teacher at the university. Things change when Sumire meets Miu, a charismatic older woman, and falls in love with her. Confused about her lesbian instincts and growing infatuation for Miu, Sumire begins to confide in K. After a prolonged ‘not in touch’ phase, K gets a call from Miu who informs him that Sumire has suddenly disappeared while holidaying with her on a Greek island. That’s it. You’ve got to read the story to find out what really happens.
Sputnik Sweetheart takes you to Murakami’s world of surrealism. Yes, if you’ve read Murakami, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s a different place, a place that lures you to its unreal charm; perhaps even make you want to let go and lose yourself. Stay away from the book if you’re looking for logic. And yes, get used to open-ended endings.
I cannot think of a better example than Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway to describe Haruki Murakami’s style of writing. It’s descriptive and unlike many authors, who while describing a certain situation, tend to unintentionally bore the reader a little, Murakami’s descriptions stick to you like glue. Not to mention, it’s nicely paced, thanks to an intriguing plot, of course.
A few lines from the text that caught my eye should be able to explain the use of metaphors in the story.
“Leaves where they had fallen, pasted on the surface of the water”
“…the sky was a brilliant splash of colours. The kind of air that felt like if you breathed it in, your lungs would be dyed the same shade of blue”
“Bathed in moonlight, Sumire’s body glistened like some ancient ceramic”
“Like the tide receding, the shoreline washed clean, with Sumire gone I was left in a distorted, empty world”
Sputnik and the symbol
A brief account of the word ‘Sputnik’ has been provided, just so you know how, when and where the term was coined. At the end of the story, the word Sputnik and its suffix, Sweetheart, both will make perfect sense.
Today, I finished reading two of his short stories – Birthday Girl and Town of Cats. I’m glad that both have substantiated my respect for his work and increased by urge to read all his other works.