Friday, August 10, 2007

Japan's Prodigal Novelist Returns - TIME

The studied disconnection from the world that has made Murakami's early work so beloved of the fashionable literati — and the lonely young — has receded. In fact, responsibility is his animating principle these days. "I have a gift to write about these things," Murakami says of 1997's Underground, his oral history of the Tokyo subway gas attacks and a book he sees as a career turning point. "At the same time, I have a responsibility." Though he says he doesn't want to talk about Japanese politics, he returns to the subject again and again throughout a 212-hour conversation, bushy eyebrows bobbing as he worries about "politicians who rewrite history," and the growing tendency in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Japan to forget about wartime atrocities. Japanese history has always been in the background of his works — and his best novel, 1994's Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, dissected the groupthink that led Japan into a catastrophic war — but now he wants to act. "Before, I wanted to be an expatriate writer," he admits. "But I am a Japanese writer. This is my soil and these are my roots. You cannot get away from your country." Though he offers no specifics, Murakami hints that his next novel will address Japanese nationalism.

Here's an annotated list of Murakami's work

Here's an explanation as to why the LibraryThing widget was showing huge covers yesterday

It’s a string thing - Times Online

You only have to think of the expression “tugging at the heart strings” to be reminded of the way we connect emotionally with the sound of the violin. But for years, the strings have been marginalised in the world of pop – sidelined to the slushy world of ballads, lazily used to suggest drama or sophistication. To all intents and purposes, strings had become the sonic equivalent of the highlighter pen. Until now.

Here's an interview with Bill Callahan

Is Smog now deceased? If so, was it a kind of a killing of a beast from which ‘Woke on a Whaleheart’ could only flourish from?

It was important that it was not a killing. It was a birth of a second thing. Smog continues to exist. However, there will be no more new Smog records. But it continues to exist alongside or in contrast to whatever else I do. There is not necessarily a death that heralds the birth of everything new.

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