Haruki Murakami – lyrical genius

February 7, 2009

I reckon Haruki Murakami is a lyrical genius…

I’ve finally started reading Haruki Murakami’s books. I bought Norwegian Wood at a second hand bookshop and steamed through it, becoming increasingly upset that I was nearer to the end than the beginning. It’s an immersive and profoundly lyrical book. I’ve ordered everything else he’s written in a fit of impetuousness. When I was at school I read Yukio Mishima’s book, The Sailor who fell from grace from the sea which had a similar effect on me. Unfortunately Mishima became bizarrely locked into his own fascistic ideas as he got nearer to his self-inflicted end, whereas Murakami appears to shy away from the cult of his own personality.

Complicite at the Barbican 2003

Complicite at the Barbican 2003

I went to see London production of The Elephant Vanishes back in 2003 at the Barbican, when Simon McBurney directed a radical interpretation of three of Murakami’s short stories. The production used a cello piece I’d written based on a Turner Painting (Rain, Steam and Speed) for the scene when a Tokyo housewife finds escape from her drudgery of routine by forcing herself into a state of insomnia. The character was represented by four different actors moving in a constant short-cycled blur.

I have never seen anything so utterly different onstage (though what was being acted was too good for my music I fear…). The combination of technology, astounding physical theatre and magic realism imprinted images and emotions that only surfaced a few weeks later when I realised I’d seen something exceptional.

I’ve got the same sense from Norwegian Wood – the story is looping in my head like an infinished scrap of music. This man’s a genius. Now let’s leave him alone so he can keep at it…

The author Haruki Murakami

The author Haruki Murakami

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