In an effort to get caught up on my backlog of reviews, I’m going to try a new format. I’ll dub them eight sentence reviews. They’ll be concise and to the point but will be no more than eight sentences. Why eight? I don’t know seemed like a reasonable amount to get the point across and perhaps bring some entertainment value.
For books that I feel deserve more or that I want to write more on, I will. Who knows, this might prove to be a really effective means of reviewing books, if it doesn’t then it will be a temporary venture until I’m caught up. Let me know your thoughts.
“I want to write about people who dream and wait for the night to end, who long for the light so they can hold the ones they love.”
4/5 stars. Paperback, 132 pages. Read from August 12, 2021 – August 19, 2021.
On January 17 1995, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake rocked Hyōgo Prefecture in Japan. This earthquake was the first-ever recorded earthquake to top the charts of the Japan Meteorological Agency. Nearly 6500 people lost their lives that day, around 4600 of them from the city of Kobe. Around 200,000 buildings collapsed that day. Even now, the Kobe earthquake still holds as one of Japan’s deadliest earthquakes. A few months later, Japan with hit with another tragedy with the sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway. These two events altered the Japanese people and will forever be imprinted in people’s minds and history books.
I picked up this novel shortly after reading Underground by Murakami, which is suiting considering how close these real events occurred. While Underground is a non-fiction work from Murakami, After the Quake is a collaboration of six fictional short stories that all relate to the Kobe earthquake event. Murakami lived abroad until 1995 and it was after these events that made him decide to move back to Japan. Japan is a geological terror of a location as it is an epicentre for earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons. It’s not a matter of if, with Japan, it’s a matter of when the next big event will happen (enter massive tsunami in 2011) and with climate change making matters worse, Japan sits in a precarious situation.
This novel contains six short stories, each of them set in the months following the earthquake and the sarin attack, with each story evoking a similar atmosphere of emotions created by the disaster. The first story follows a man whose wife abruptly left him after the earthquake. After taking some leave from work he is asked to deliver a mysterious package to one of his co-worker’s sisters. In the fourth, a woman is on a trip to Thailand when she realises she needs to let go of the resentment she has towards her ex-husband. The fifth is probably the most interesting of all the stories in that a man returns home from work to find a human-sized talking frog in his kitchen pleading with him that he needs his help to defeat a super worm in order to prevent a giant earthquake. While some stories carry more realism than others, each carries a heavy tone of longing, hope, sadness, regret, and relief.
Murakami uses these stories to capture the voice of Japan after the quake as well as using it as means to come to his own terms with the tragedy. The earthquake event is prolific in each story, though not always in the same manner. From news reports of the event, a disrupted relationship, to prophetic and metaphorical fights of giant frogs and worms. Murakami’s writing is, as always, poetic and mystical while engrossing readers with a unique story and feel.
A solid choice for Murakami fans who have not read this book yet and a good introductory to a tragic piece of Japanese history.
“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”
2/5 stars. ebook, 309 pages. DNF 50%: July 13, 2021 – August 1, 2021
I’m going to keep this review brief because I was severely underwhelmed and bored by this book. I did give it a good go though as I made it about halfway through before throwing in the towel.
Part of the reason for my feelings on this book is that all of the content in it already feels familiar. I know that when this book was first published it was absolutely groundbreaking, meaning I’m a bit late to the party in reading this. I was working at a bookstore when it first came out in 2008 and I recall how popular it was. Since then the stats in this book have been used and referenced many, many times since then creating a sense of familiarity for me, despite having not read it before. It also doesn’t help that I never read business or success-related books because I don’t find them appealing or interesting, however, this was a book club selection and I’m committed to my club, ya know? So, the lack of general interest and sense of familiarity created a DNF for me.
The leader of this discussion in our book club was so passionate about this book that it made up for some of the boredom I experienced reading it. There are definitely some intriguing stories and statistics in here so I can appreciate the appeal of this novel if you are business-minded and enjoy books of this nature. This, however, was not a book for me.