Almost Transparent Blue

Almost Transparent Blue


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780870114694
Publisher: Kodansha International
Publication date: 09/01/1992
Edition description: REISSUE
Pages: 128
Product dimensions: 4.39(w) x 7.17(h) x 0.40(d)

About 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.

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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Almost Transparent Blue 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
poetontheone on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Mishima-esque nihilism, utilizing ugliness instead of beauty, swirled with pseudo-Bataillean transgression. The language and imagery of this book is equivalent to a clogged garbage disposal in a filthy sink, and Murakami somehow makes it almost beautiful. Plotless, meandering, and at times so disturbing that it is difficult to go on reading. Definitely of interest to readers of contemporary Japanese Literature. Quite similar thematically to a more recent work by Hitomi Kanehara, entitled Snakes and Earrings.
whitewavedarling on LibraryThing 5 months ago
There is beauty and grace in much of the language here, but beyond that, it didn't draw me in. My best description is that this is like a mix of Waiting for Godot and Jesus' Son. It has little (or no) plot, and wanders with characters that, however vivid and crude, don't have much depth or connection to readers. In subject, I have to compare this to Jesus' Son, but there's a fatal difference: in Johnson's narrative, however focused on drugs it may be, you have a thoughtful and interesting narrator pulling the "novel" together into a story that amounts to something quite a bit more meaningful than just random drug experiences and philosophical comments. Murakami's novel is missing the philosophy and the interesting narrator. As a result, this seems like something of an exercise in crude wanderings of violence, sex, and drug use. Perhaps it's an interesting experiment in much the way that Becket's Waiting for Godot succeeds, but it didn't work for this reader. I wanted more, though I enjoyed the grace and rhythm of the language at many points.
LittleKnife on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I enjoyed the vivid portrayal of moments and the activity. That said, I can imagine that the disjuncture would get irritating unless you were already a fan of similar things. The drugs and sex are tiring but of course thats the deliberate disaffection of the style and era of writing. Its not pleasant, fun nor, unfortunately, exciting but it is well written and manages to draw you in. I do wish I could read it in the original.
TooHotty on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The Other Murakami's oeuvre really wavers in quality. Almost Transparent Blue is hopefully the lower limit.There were tons of digusting sex and drug scenes, and I don't think I'm some stuck up old prune (ok, maybe I do), but lots of it was just uncalled for.I don't mind if you want to paint a picture of your days in the gutter, that's fine... but if you're going to subject me to little Japanese girls having bloody group sex with a bunch of huge (huge) guys, please move the story to a satisfying conclusion. This book was incoherent. If it weren't so short, I wouldn't have bothered finishing it.
TakeItOrLeaveIt on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I read this within 24 hours. This aloof coming of age novel could be devoured in a sitting. A counter-culture piano player who is endeared by everyone he comes across screws and snorts and shoots up in a wasteland of post-Vietnam Japan. I'm a fan of the japanese coming of age story but here, Ryu plays an interesting trick on the genre. Maintaining the sheepish detached 'tragic hero' who is constantly in the middle of horror he splices it with a jaded sense of withdrawal. The third part of this jaunt has a Sanshiro by Soseki feel more than the other bits of degradation and quietism. Clearly to be enjoyed by self-proclaiming existentialists.
idyllwild on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I've read this twice, the first time when I was younger than the protagonist and the second time when I was older (both times, /- 1 year). I love this book, but it nauseates me. Part of why it's so intriguing is that it conflates desire and nausea, the things that should be gross with the things that should be beautiful, and you're never sure quite where you stand. The writing is excellent and dense; it feels like much longer than 126 short pages.
mich_yms on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The storytelling was indeed `violent¿, in so many different ways and levels. On one end of the spectrum, the things that were happening within the story were violent. Sex and drugs, even when they are by themselves, are rarely subtle. But when huge quantities of both are mixed together within a single bowl, the result is an overdosage of violence.But as if that wasn¿t enough, even the prose was violent. Just reading the book itself, I felt like I was being pushed and shoved in all directions. Sometimes I felt suffocated, and there were moments when I felt like my whole body was slammed against a wall.There are still so many aspects of this book that I do not understand. But rare is a book that repels and intrigues me at the same time.
Banoo on LibraryThing 5 months ago
'You're always trying so hard to see something, just like you're taking notes, like some scholar doing research, right? Or just like a little kid. You really are a little kid, when you're a kid you try to see everything, don't you? Babies look right into the eyes of people they don't know and cry or laugh, but now you just try and look right into people's eyes, you'll go nuts before you know it. Just try it, try looking right into the eyes of people walking past, you'll start feeling funny pretty soon, you shouldn't look at things like a baby.'One of the few quotes I could find that didn't deal with vomit, semen, spit, bleeding orifices, throbbing protuberances, sweat...One word sums up this book... yuckyDid I like it? oh yeahIf you've never taken drugs or lived a depraved life read this book and you'll feel like you've taken drugs and lived a depraved life. I'm still tripping...There is no plot. Things just happen. Many, many things happen. Some things best left unsaid here. Think Kawabata... now imagine his complete opposite. This was Ryu's first book. It was awarded the Akutagawa Prize. Not for the moral majority or minority or anyone with morals at all.'... a charred body is one thing you don't ever want to see, you know, it's really bad.'
AHS-Wolfy on LibraryThing 5 months ago
An almost stream of consciousness account of a sex and drug fuelled passage in time of a group of young Japanese late-teens/early twenty-somethings. We follow their hedonistic lifestyle of partying hard and the subsequent crash and burn of the comedown afterwards. There is no plot and definitely no moralistic standpoint either. There are, of course, moments of introspection for the almost detached protagonist that we follow along with but you are never quite sure how much his vision is clouded by the degenerate lifestyle he leads.An award winning début novel that is a very short and quick read. Not one I could recommend due to the subject matter and gratuitousness of the content. Not my favourite of those that I've read so far from the other Murakami but far and away not the worst.
Sianne_Rice More than 1 year ago
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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Guest More than 1 year ago
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.