Friday, April 15, 2016

strange library

The Strange Library. With a title like that, how could I not pick this one up. I've read a few of Murakami's books and while this has some similarities, it's really a thing all its own; more of an art project than a novella. I'm curious about what this book looks like in the original Japanese version. you know what, using the magic of the interwebs I'm going to see if I can do that virtually right now. Boom. *

The form of the book from the artwork and design of the top to bottom overlapping front cover captures the imagination immediately. A quick flip through the heavy pages, printed in a large typeface font, and illustrated full pages tells us that we're in for a wild ride.

I don't think it's a spoiler to say that this is one strange library that our young protagonist has stepped into, but I wasn't prepared for furries, labyrinths, spirits, and cannibalism. That's a lot to squeeze into a little novella like this. I'm not sure how he did it but I think the larger question is: what does it mean?

Before I blab what I think, I'll say that I don't think my speculations represent spoilers either, but if you'd rather not hear what I think I'd skip to the next paragraph. I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about what Murakami was trying to say while I read--it only took an hour or so to read this--but since then I've been wondering. Maybe libraries represent education, learning, and/or empirical data vs. spiritual understanding. Perhaps that's why a spirit arrives; to provide guidance. The kind of guidance book larnin' alone can't give us. If so, is that why cannibalism? Our minds being filled with information only to sate the consumption demands put upon us by other, similarly 'educated' people? Or maybe the lesson is: we should be careful what we choose to learn so that we aren't being programmed against our will. A call to think for ourselves. Even when it comes to thinking about WHAT we think about. Not sure if that's it or not, but these seem like interesting questions in any case. yeah, that was me patting me on the back for being so deep

So I would read this book if I were you. If you see it in the library, you could just find a comfy spot and read it right there. and Then get something else Murakami wrote and take it home.

* Originally titled Toshokan kitan and published in six arts in 1982 in a periodical, and later published as a complete novella titled Fushigi na toshokan, according to this Murakami translation blog.

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