Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: 24 Stories

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: 24 Stories

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Overview

The twenty-four stories that make up Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman generously express the incomparable Haruki Murakami’s mastery of the form.

Here are animated crows, a criminal monkey, and an ice man, as well as the dreams that shape us and the things we might wish for. From the surreal to the mundane, these stories exhibit Murakami’s ability to transform the full range of human experience in ways that are instructive, surprising, and entertaining.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400096084
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/09/2007
Series: Vintage International Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 232,060
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 790L (what's this?)

About the Author

Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages, and the most recent of his many honors is the Yomiuri Literary Prize, whose previous recipients include Yukio Mishima, Kenzaburo Oe, and Kobo Abe.

Hometown:

Tokyo, Japan

Date of Birth:

January 12, 1949

Place of Birth:

Kyoto, Japan

Education:

Waseda University, 1973

Read an Excerpt

Blind Willow, Sleeping WomanWhen I closed my eyes, the scent of the wind wafted up toward me. A May wind, swelling up like a piece of fruit, with a rough outer skin, slimy flesh, dozens of seeds. The flesh split open in midair, spraying seeds like gentle buckshot into the bare skin of my arms, leaving behind a faint trace of pain.“What time is it?” my cousin asked me. About eight inches shorter than me, he had to look up when he talked.I glanced at my watch. “Ten twenty.”“Does that watch tell good time?”“Yeah, I think so.”My cousin grabbed my wrist to look at the watch. His slim, smooth fingers were surprisingly strong. “Did it cost a lot?”“No, it’s pretty cheap,” I said, glancing again at the timetable.No response.My cousin looked confused. The white teeth between his parted lips looked like bones that had atrophied.“It’s pretty cheap,” I said, looking right at him, carefully repeating the words. “It’s pretty cheap, but it keeps good time.”My cousin nodded silently. My cousin can’t hear well out of his right ear. Soon after he went into elementary school he was hit by a baseball and it screwed up his hearing. That doesn’t keep him from functioning normally most of the time. He attends a regular school, leads an entirely normal life. In his classroom, he always sits in the front row, on the right, so he can keep his left ear toward the teacher. And his grades aren’t so bad. The thing is, though, he goes through periods when he can hear sounds pretty well, and periods when he can’t. It’s cyclical, like the tides. And sometimes, maybe twice a year, he can barely hear anything out of either ear. It’s like the silence in his right ear deepens to the point where it crushes out any sound on the left side. When that happens, ordinary life goes out the window and he has to take some time off from school. The doctors are basi- cally stumped. They’ve never seen a case like it, so there’s nothing they can do.“Just because a watch is expensive doesn’t mean it’s accurate,” my cousin said, as if trying to convince himself. “I used to have a pretty expensive watch, but it was always off. I got it when I started junior high, but I lost it a year later. Since then I’ve gone without a watch. They won’t buy me a new one.”“Must be tough to get along without one,” I said.“What?” he asked.“Isn’t it hard to get along without a watch?” I repeated, looking right at him.“No, it isn’t,” he replied, shaking his head. “It’s not like I’m living off in the mountains or something. If I want to know the time I just ask somebody.”“True enough,” I said.We were silent again for a while.I knew I should say something more, try to be kind to him, try to make him relax a little until we arrived at the hospital. But it had been five years since I saw him last. In the meanwhile he’d grown from nine to fourteen, and I’d gone from twenty to twenty-five. And that span of time had created a translucent barrier between us that was hard to traverse. Even when I had to say something, the right words just wouldn’t come out. And every time I hesitated, every time I swallowed back something I was about to say, my cousin looked at me with a slightly confused look on his face. His left ear tilted ever so slightly toward me.“What time is it now?” he asked me.“Ten twenty-nine,” I replied.It was ten thirty-two when the bus finally rolled into view. Visit Haruki Murakami's official website to read more from Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.www.harukimurakami.com

Table of Contents

Introduction to the English Edition

1.) Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
2.) Birthday Girl
3.) New York Mining Disaster
4.) Airplane: Or, How He Talked to Himself as If Reciting Poetry
5.) The Mirror
6.) A Folklore for My Generation: A Pre-History of Late-Stage Capitalism
7.) Hunting Knife
8.) A Perfect Day for Kangaroos
9.) Dabchick
10.) Man-Eating Cats
11.) A “Poor Aunt” Story
12.) Nausea 1979
13.) The Seventh Man
14.) The Year of Spaghetti
15.) Tony Takitani
16.) The Rise and Fall of Sharpie Cakes
17.) The Ice Man
18.) Crabs
19.) Firefly
20.) Chance Traveler
21.) Hanalei Bay
22.) Where I’m Likely to Find It
23.) The Kidney-Shaped Stone That Moves Every Day
24.) A Shinagawa Monkey

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Murakami's stories are difficult to describe.... Their beauty lies in their ephemeral and incantatory qualities and in his uncanny ability to tap into a sort of collective unconscious.... These stories are a joy." —-Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Customer Reviews

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Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: 24 Stories 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
jnmegan 1 days ago
Readers may be curious about Haruki Murakami due to the rave reviews of his full-length novels (ex: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, 1Q84, Kafka on the Shore), and their popularity in translation throughout the world. Those who may have resisted the call to undertake his lengthy and fantastic works might be encouraged by starting with Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, a collection of 24 short stories. With varying lengths and levels of inscrutability, the stories contained in the book are an excellent and accessible introduction to Murakami’s magical realism. The book could be described as a sampler of his gorgeous symbolism and elusive but incisive reflections on universal experience. Each story contains a provoking vision of the human condition, including such themes as: predestination; haunting choices and consequences; yearning for individual meaning; withstanding loss of love and identity; loneliness and isolation. The joys of Murakami’s prose justify the praise he has received, and any effort to decipher the layers within the tales Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman will encourage new fans to his other works. Once experienced in small bites, many will be lured into his novels-thereby immersing themselves more deeply and lingering longer in his beautifully rendered worlds. Good for: Readers new and old to Murakami; those looking for International Fiction in translation; highly rated award-winners; fans of fully formed but linked short story collections; psychological and symbolic works of fiction. You may like this book if you like: Kazuo Ishiguro, David Mitchell, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges and Vladimir Nabokov.
391 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reading this collection of short works flattens out everything I love about Murakami - the slow buildup, the gentle twists that he develops over the course of his longer works, the subtleties and gradual accumulations that happen over the length of a novel. When condensed into 26 short stories, his style suddenly seems almost hackneyed, nearly predictable or tired. It becomes quickly evident if a pattern is established by his writing - the character introduces himself/herself, the character provides the context of something strange that has happened, the character delves into unrelated but ultimately related side stories often pertaining to sex, weirdness happens, nothing is resolved. I couldn't read more than one story at a time because I would get so tired of what seemed like unchanging structures. I still love his novels, but I think I will stay away from short stories in the future.
PghDragonMan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman was my first taste of Haruki Murakami. I¿m going to give in to cheap metaphor and say that this collection of short stories reminds me of a sushi meal. There are lots of intriguing small bites to eat, the flavors are unique, some good, some not so good, some dishes you recognize and a lot are not readily identifiable.Being an anthology, it is hard to rate the collection. Some stories were absolutely fantastic, others elicited no reaction other than, ¿OK, that¿s the end of the story¿. I am not going to review all the stories individually, but I will cite some examples of what I mean.Birthday Girl, was my favorite. The plot would be worthy of a Twilight Zone episode or a short, experimental movie. Very off beat, yet a full story in itself. That is what a short story is supposed to be. A Perfect Day for Kangaroos was a good stream of consciousness type story until one character says to another let¿s go for a beer. That¿s the end of the story. No resolution, nothing explained and no reaction on my part. I had the same feeling for Hunting Knife. There is a lot of setup, good dialog, but the story just does not go anywhere. Even Kafka¿s stories have a direction and a destination. Many of Murakami¿s seemed to lack these essentials.Overall, the flat and bad stories outnumber the good stories. Because of this, my rating for this collection is less than average. I am, however, intrigued enough by Murakami¿s writing style that I¿m going to have a go at one of his full-length works. Hopefully, that will be more satisfying.
ladycato on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've read more than once that Murakami is one of the modern masters of short fiction. However, as I began to read through this anthology, I wasn't too impressed. Many of the characters fit the author's own demographic: men coming of age in the '60s or '70s, listening to jazz, Japanese. Many of the stories involved affairs in some way. Mind you, none of the stories were bad, but none had a deep impact on me, either.Then I reached the final stretch.This is a case where they truly did save the best for last. "Chance Traveler," "Hanalei Bay," "A Shinagawa Monkey" were all extraordinary. Murakami has a way of writing in simple, unaffected prose that describes the mundaneness of life and the yearning for something more. I'm glad I read this book, if for those stories alone.
stypulkoski on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you want to introduce a friend to Haruki Murakami, this collection of short stories is a great place to start. WUBC may be his masterpiece, but many uninitiated readers will be turned off my its length. Murakami is one of those rare authors who do short stores and full-length novels equally well, so this book will give you a pretty good idea as to whether or not you would enjoy investing the time in reading his novels.
Redon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have to go on the record as saying that I have absolutely no idea what most of the short stories in this collection were about - but that didn't keep me from enjoying them enormously. Murakami is a postmodern surrealist who specializes in urban fantasy; his stories are odd, meandering tales about suddenly waking up one day to find that you have a "poor aunt" attached to your back, marrying a literal Ice Man, or losing your name. Even the stories that aren't overtly fantastical have a surreal air to them, such as the man who always goes to the zoo when a typhoon is coming or the one who makes a ritual out of eating spaghetti for a year straight. I sometimes get impatient with authors that seem to be surreal for the sake of being surreal, but I always felt that Murakami's stories really did have substance - I usually didn't know what it was, and I'm not entirely convinced Murakami himself always knew either, but the feeling was there. Part of it might be Murakami's evident fascination with the surreal in everyday life; one of the stories is nothing but Murakami reciting strange coincidences that he and his friends have encountered in real life. It really shows off his talent that he can make these little moments stand out as something special just as much as his other stories.One thing that does come through clearly is the sense of distance. Almost all of Murakami's protagonists are detached observers of their own lives; they're extremely self-aware, but they tend to shrug off their observations with a "That's how it is," and while they notice the surreal aspects of their lives, those are treated with the same lack of concern. Even the ones in relationships never seem to connect with another person. It's a fascinating portrayal of urban disconnect, and here it helps heighten the surreality of the stories.Also, I have to say, I love Murakami's naming sense. The stories are called things like A Perfect Day for Kangaroos, Man-Eating Cats, A Folklore for My Generation: A Pre-History of Late-Stage Capitalism, Nausea 1979, and The Rise and Fall of Sharpie Cakes. I had a hard time putting the book down just because I wanted to know what each title meant!
dugenstyle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've only read this book by Murakami, and my review is directed at people who want to read him (how could you not with all the hype surrounding the guy) but don't know where to start. First: This is not where (to start). Murakami's style does not lend itself to short fiction--at best the pieces piqued your curiousity and made you invested in the character, and then ended. It was as if each were the beginning of, or else a synopsis of, a novel. And the same novel, as no matter how unique and imaginative the details of the story were, they were all esstentially the same story. There were potentially a couple of pieces I would've enjoyed immensely had I'd read them on there own, but in the context of the book they were just adding to the monotony.My impression now is that Murakami's novels are probably much better when his prose is given more room to breathe and explore, but also that they are also probably essentially the same. So I expect, after the bad taste of this boring book leaves my mouth, I will pick one up again, read it, really like it, and then stop. Because seriously, this is the point that really needs to be stressed: every single story was the same.
isabelx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
She just tipped her head a little and said nothing. With her back to me, she allowed her slender fingers to trail in the water. It seemed as if my questions were coursing through her fingers to be conducted to the ruined city beneath the water. It's still down there, I'm sure, the question mark glittering at the bottom of the pond like a polished metal fragment. For all I know, it's showering the cola cans around it with that same question.These are the first of this author¿s short stories that I have read and I found the introduction, in which he discussed how his approach to writing short stories differed to his approach to novel-writing, was extremely interesting. The stories themselves were a mixture of realistic possibly semi-autobiographical stories, and stories that included more fantastic elements. For some reason my favourite stories adjoined each other, being the last five stories in the book, starting with "Chance Traveller". I think I liked them best because they had a more optimistic tone than a lot of the earlier stories.
updraught on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I reached the final story of this compilation of truly brilliant pieces the idea of having to put the book away so soon worried me into taking a two-month break half-way through the story, thus prolonging the experience in a certain way.Seriously: This is probably the best book I have read in recent years. Murakami's stories are full of surprises, strange twists, infinite spaces and little joys. He excells in describing the little nothings in between - moments where absolutely nothing happens and time seems to stand still.A thoroughly great book.
tronella on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a collection of short stories. Most of them read like he's describing something that happened to him, although a lot of them become very surreal by the end, or aren't really resolved (much like a real occurrence, I guess). I don't have things to say about every story, but here's what I wrote down:"I felt that I knew what he was getting at. At the same time, I felt that I had no idea what he meant." - New York Mining Disaster.Usually a good description of a Murakami story! This particular one made no sense to me whatsoever.The Year of Spaghetti: I love the thought that in Japan you have to go to a specialist shop to buy the kind of herbs required for spaghetti sauce! I never thought of that before."'I'm not just saying this to make you feel good,' Kirie said, 'but you've got something special - that special something it takes to become an outstanding writer. Your stories have a quiet mood, but several of them are quite lively, and the style is beautiful, but mainly your writing is so balanced." - The Kidney-Shaped Stone that Moves Every Day. A good description of Murakami, I think. :)
BooksCatsEtc More than 1 year ago
Murakami has a real way with injecting the bizarre into the ordinary. I don’t know if it can be called a form of magical realism, but if not it gets very close. I enjoyed these stories thoroughly, even the ones I’m not sure I understood, like the title story. That’s OK, I liked reading it and I’m sure I’m going to like re-reading it to see if I can get a better grip on it.
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