I’m just finishing Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. Everyone but me has known since 2000 that it’s a contemporary masterpiece. I’m always late to the party, but I usually show up sooner or later. Have a taste:
“Now get this straight, Wantanabe,” said Midori, pointing at me. “I’m warning you, I’ve got a whole month’s worth of misery crammed inside me and getting ready to blow. So watch what you say to me. Any more of that kind of stuff and I’ll flood this place with tears. Once I get started, I’m good for the whole night. Are you ready for that? I’m an absolute animal when I start crying, it doesn’t matter where I am! I’m not kidding.”
I nodded and kept quiet. Ordering a second whisky and soda, I ate a few pistachios. Somewhere behind the sound of a sloshing shaker and clinking glasses and the scrape of an ice maker, Sarah Vaughn sang an old-fashioned love song.
Shit, man, I’ll never be able write like that. The excerpt probably isn’t that impressive taken out of context but it knocked me on my ass when I read it on the train tonight. I went back over it three times.
I met Murakami once. He made a rare public appearance at a book signing here in New York. He had two cute Japanese assistants with him who each had two wooden chock stamps. When he signed a book, one of the assistants would stamp it. Mine is a picture of two intertwined fish. I asked him if New York frightened him. He and the cute Japanese girls laughed.