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Pickle Me This

May 28, 2007

Positively transporting

After Dark is the first novel I’ve read by Haruki Murakami. Previously I’ve read his short story collection After the Quake and his nonfiction book Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche. And it’s strange that it’s taken so long for me to start reading Japanese fiction; while I lived there, I hardly read any, too busy overdosing on fiction from the Britain I had left behind. Sometimes, I think, reality was something too much, and I wanted something different. But now that that world is far away from me, I am turning back to it through fiction. Positively transporting.

“Our line of sight chooses an area of concentrated brightness and, focusing there, silently descends to it– a sea of neon colours. They call this place an ‘amusement district.’ The giant digital screens fastened to the sides of buildings fall silent as midnight approaches, but loudspeakers on storefronts keep pumpingg out exaggerated hip-hop bass lines. A large game center crammed with young people; wild electronic sounds; a group of college students spilling out from a bar; teenage girls with brilliant bleached hair, healthy legs thrusting out from micro-mini skirts; dark-suited men racing across diagonal crosswalks for the last trains to the suburbs. Even at this hour, the karaoke club pitchmen keep shouting for customers. A flashy black station wagon drifts down the street as if taking stock of the district throuigh its black-tinted windows. The car looks like a deep sea creature with specialized skins and organs. The young policemen patrol the street with tense expressions, but no one seems to notice them. The district plays by its own rules at a time like this. The season is late autumn. No wind is blowing but the air carries a chill. The date is just about to change.”

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