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Book one

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Dance dance dance
By Haruki Murakami
Japan

When you buy a new frying pan, it’s not like you have to learn how to cook all over again; you just know, inherently, what to do: turn on the heat toss in your ingredients and try not to burn it all to a crisp.  Maybe the radio is playing in the background or your are distracted trying to find the best if used by date of some eggs, but basically you can cook because you’ve done it a million times before.  Take one of those eggs in your hand, gently tap its side to split it open and you are on your way to making an omelet. Likewise cracking the paper spine of a new novel is like walking down a well trodden path from your back door to the garden shed, it’s familiar to you and there is a certain tea and crumpets hominess to the whole thing.  I know this path, you say, why I could even run it with eyes closed and avoid every stick and stone along the way. There is a sensual pleasure to opening a new book, the feel of its pages flicking along your thumb, the sound each turning page makes as you step into the story line and while away the hours reading. You exhale deeply, body settling into your favorite reading chair dog at your feet and all that for a good thriller (unless like me chances are you find yourself standing in the tram holding onto your umbrella with one hand, your book in the other and brace your back against the wall hoping you can finish one more paragraph before the next stop). In any case, wherever we are we can get some reading in if we really want.

Back to cooking.  Murakami is always cooking something in his novels, delicious yet simple and healthy dishes; usually there is a jazz album of some sort playing in the background as the main character sips a glass of white wine. Seaweed and feta salad or something along those lines. Art Pepper and Sauvignon Blanc. The mood is always good, light kitchen banter a dash of spice, a reduction of onion and it all comes together.  There is also a poetic rhythm to his writing and at times I wish he would just sit down and give us an all out book of verse.  “Soft and silent as a new moon, a smile drifted across her face”, (p 107)  I wish he would take that line and stretch a full page of poetic wandering about light and shadow and mice hoping along the snow covered ground…so much insight in each of his sentences.

I am still wrapping my head around this project of reading a hundred books from a hundred countries, and I don’t want to write long academic drivel about each one I read.  To make it simple I’ll say, I liked this book and I am glad to have started this long journey right here getting into the skin of Murakami’s characters.  It’s a fun book. Sometimes you need to take a leap of faith to follow the hero as he encounters some pretty strange situations not within the realm of the ordinary mortal.  The pay off is worth it though, you’ll meet some tormented artists searching for beauty, a quirky clairvoyant teen age girl, a made for soap operas actor, a haunted car and a crazy hotel within a hotel!  Without giving away too much I think you could like this story, and you don’t have to learn how to read all over again to do it.  Now let’s all go for a run!!! Happy reading…

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