May 23, 2002

the beginning of the end

Welp, tomorrow is my last final for the semester! I've just been kinda' sitting around twiddling my thumbs, waiting for Friday to roll around so I can take it.

Actually, yesterday I was rather bored. I had Junichiro Tanizaki's Naomi lying around, so I read it. I read In Praise of Shadows by him for my Japanese Culture course; there were a few things from Shadows that reflected in Naomi. In particular, there was one part where Joji (what a pathetic guy!) is commenting about the shadows on Naomi's skin. Anyways, it was a good read, and I enjoyed it, despite its morbid and depressing ways; surprisingly, Joji's tone is quite jovial while he's telling the story!

Heh, I e-mailed my Japanese Culture professor regarding what I thought of Naomi, and she remarked that all of modern Japanese novels are depressing. So that got me to thinking: where are the modern Japanese *female* writers? It seems to me that all of these famous J-writers are men writing about depressed, sexually repressed men.

Also, after finishing Naomi I felt like getting my hands a bit dirtier, so I went out and got myself Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle; I know, I know, I said I'd read Hardboiled Wonderland, but I felt like getting this one first, so foo! I also picked up a copy of Dave Eggar's Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius; look, see, I am sort of true to my booklist!

I've gotten about 70 pages into the Murakami, and it's OK so far. This is my second Murakami (first was South of the Border, West of the Sun), but I'm starting to notice a few things about him: he really likes to keep that sense of mystery going on, like purposely putting in things that happen that seem random but will mean something later; and he seems to start out really slow, making the first parts of his books seem sluggish (in not necessarily a bad way!). Anyhow, a friend once commented on him being a Japanese Milan Kundera; I'm not so sure I'd say that. The tone may seem somewhat similar, but Kundera really pulls you in fast and then throws you around while you're in there. Murakami is more on building suspense.

Hmm, maybe I should study just a tad bit before the final.

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