Almost Transparent Blue

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A youth of college age, his older mistress, friends--random friends, they might be called--living near an American military base and experimenting with drugs both hard and soft.

In rapidly sketched scenes gliding from the everyday real to the hallucinatory, the author has used what he himself calls his "narrative zoom lens." The novel is all but plotless, but the imagery is tellingly vivid, "the literary equivalent of genre painting," according...

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NY 1992 Paperback Fine 0870114697. Translated from the Japanese by Nancy Andrew. Ninth paperback printing. Fine in mass market sized illustrated wraps.

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Overview

A youth of college age, his older mistress, friends--random friends, they might be called--living near an American military base and experimenting with drugs both hard and soft.

In rapidly sketched scenes gliding from the everyday real to the hallucinatory, the author has used what he himself calls his "narrative zoom lens." The novel is all but plotless, but the imagery is tellingly vivid, "the literary equivalent of genre painting," according to one critic.

The participants seem caught in their hard-rock scene, sadly unfree, having neither the will nor the energy to break away. And over all there seems to hang the heavy shadow of self-destructiveness, not only in terms of their present situation but with regard to what the future holds for them--and the question is inescapable, for human society as well? In this mirror reflecting the present, personal relations deteriorate, violence of the moment erupts, and communication inches slowly towards nullity. One asks, eventually, if the hallucinations, whatever their source, are so very far from the vague misgivings and hopeful imaginings of the man in the street.

The author coolly and unsentimentally distills from this morass a feeling of something pure and unsullied. His technique, with its lack of taboos, of moral condemnation, and of the superfluous, comes very close to the insouciance of cinema verite, in which there is also a touch of surrealism.

Representing a sharp and conscious turning away from the introspective trend of postwar Japanese literature, this work polarized critics and public alike and soon attracted international attention, a sign of winds of change, if not specifically of things to come.

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Editorial Reviews

Newsweek
A Japanese mix of A Clockwork Orange and L'Etranger.
From the Publisher
"A Japanese mix of A Clockwork Orange and L'Etranger." -Newsweek

"Bugs and mucus, cheesecake and semen, rain and runways-all lovingly described." - Washington Post

"Highly recommended for readers of the bizarre." -Antioch Review

"A violent book-sharply begun and slammed quickly to a finish." -Bestsellers

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870114694
  • Publisher: Kodansha International
  • Publication date: 9/1/1992
  • Edition description: REISSUE
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 4.39 (w) x 7.17 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

RYU MURAKAMI was born in 1952. The only son of schoolteacher parents, he grew up in the port city of Sasebo in southwestern Japan. After graduating from a local high school, where he played the drums in a band called Coelacanth, he went to an art college in Tokyo. It was while studying there that he entered his first novel, Almost Transparent Blue, in a competition for new writers. Published in 1976, the book won a major literary award and sold over a million copies. Since then, he has worked for a publishing house, presented a weekly music and interview radio program, and hosted a TV talk show. His literary output includes two collections of stories Run, Takahashi (1985) and Topaz (1988), and the novel Coin Locker Babies (1980), which made its debut in English early in 1995. His roman a clef 69 appeared in English in 1993. He has also directed four movies based on his writing, causing a sensation at an Italian film festival when Tokyo Decadence was shown there in 1992. His latest film is set in the U.S. and Cuba.

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Read an Excerpt

I took a fragment of glass about the size of my thumbnail out of my pocket and wiped the blood off it. The little fragment with its smooth hollow reflected the brightening sky. Under the sky stretched the hospital and far away the tree-lined street and the town. The horizon of the shadowy reflected town made a delicate curving line. Its curves were the same, the same as the time I'd almost killed Lilly on the runway in the rain, that white curved line that burned for an instant with the thunder. Like the wave-filled foggy horizon of the sea, like a woman's white arm, a gentle curve.

All the time, since I didn't know when, I'd been surrounded by this whitish curving.

The fragment of glass with the blood on its edge, as it soaked up the dawn air, was almost transparent.

It was a boundless blue, almost transparent. I stood up, and as I walked toward my own apartment, I thought, I want to become like this glass. And then I want to reflect this smooth white curving myself. I want to show other people these splendid curves reflected in me.

The edge of the sky blurred with light, and the fragment of glass soon clouded over. When I heard the songs of birds, there was nothing reflected in the glass, nothing at all.

Beside the poplar in front of the apartment lay the pineapple I'd thrown out yesterday. From its moist cut end there still drifted the same smell.

I crouched down on the ground and waited for the birds.

If the birds dance down and the warm light reaches here, I guess my long shadow will stretch over the gray birds and the pineapple and cover them.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good but I could not relate

    Sadly despite my love for Murakami's writing I couldn't get into this book at all. Maybe it's my lack of drug use? Or my youth...but I couldn't keep reading and didn't even finish it, I read about half of it and gave up. It's only around 115 pages! I plan to try again eventually but a lot of the scenes just don't make sense unless you've used the drugs in question (I'm not suggesting that!).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2004

    i have dreams about this book

    there are scenes from this book that are permenantly etched in my mind. I thought this was a bad sign at first, but after a while I got used to it. so now i live with it and sometimes i will reread parts. It is like super rare steak, sometimes, you are not up to eating it, but sometimes it is the best comfort food you can get.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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