First Person Singular

Title: First Person Singular

Writer: Haruki Murakami (translated by Philip Gabriel)

Publishing House: Harvill Secker

Date of Publication:  April 6th 2021 (first published July 2020)

Rating: 2 stars

‘’But the whole neighbourhood was still and silent, as if the dense clouds above had swallowed up all sound.’’

Cream: A young man is invited to a piano recital by an old classmate. But when he arrives at his destination, he feels lost. He sees no one and there isn’t the slightest hint of a venue in sight. All he finds is a strange old man and a peculiar lecture on the meaning of life…

‘’Lost in this incessant 

afternoon downpour

a nameless axe

decapitates the twilight.’’

On a Stone Pillow: The narrator recounts a winter’s night encounter with an enigmatic woman and the lasting impression of a mysterious poetry collection. This story is quietly beautiful and moving.

Charlie Parker Plays Bossa Nova: I am afraid I don’t like Jazz or bossa nova, and I stopped reading this one after the fifth page. Other readers will surely find it interesting but what little I read bored me to tears.

‘’You go to the dark side of the moon and come back empty-handed.’’

With the Beatles: On the other hand, I adored this story! With The Beatles’ legacy as the perfect background, the narrator takes us on a brief walk down memory lane during the 60s, before he focuses on his first girlfriend and a strange discussion with her brother on an autumnal Sunday afternoon. There are so many layers in the story and so many themes for discussion.

Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey: A traveller meets a monkey that cannot only talk but has an obsession with stealing women’s names and identities. A story that veers toward Surrealism. Make of it what you will.

Carnaval: Forgive me but I am not interested in an endless rumbling on how an ‘’ugly’’ woman can actually (!) appear ‘’attractive’’ to a man. In my opinion, this story was dull, offensive and did not do any credit to Murakami’s fame as a storyteller. And no references to Mozart or Schubert can salvage this misogynistic chaos. In fact, by this point, I began to feel rather underwhelmed by the entire collection.

The Yakult Swallows Poetry Collection: Oh, look! A ‘’story’’ about (really) bad poetry and baseball. How interesting!

Not.

First Person Singular: A man wears a suit and goes to a bar. He meets a woman, a friend of a friend of a friend, who accuses him of a past transgression. Except, he cannot recall what he was supposed to have done and we are not told either…

The end.

Frightfully underwhelming, a collection that had its moments but never really soared to literary heights. I’ve read dozens of better – much better- collections this year by much less ‘’celebrated’’ authors. Disappointed and irritated.

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