First Person Singular

by Murakami, Haruki

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Summary
“Some novelists hold a mirror up to the world and some, like Haruki Murakami, use the mirror as a portal to a universe hidden beyond it.” —The Wall Street Journal A mind-bending new collection of short stories from the internationally acclaimed Haruki Murakami.The eight stories in this new book are all told in the first person by a classic Murakami narrator. From memories of youth, meditations on music, and an ardent love of baseball, to dreamlike scenarios and invented jazz albums, together these stories challenge the boundaries between our minds and the exterior world. Occasionally, a narrator may or may not be Murakami himself. Is it memoir or fiction? The reader decides. Philosophical and mysterious, the stories in First Person Singular all touch beautifully on love and solitude, childhood and memory. . . all with a signature Murakami twist.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Whether in his epic-scale novels or in his shorter works, much of Murakami's appeal has always come from the beguiling way in which his characters react to wildly fantastical events in the most matter-of-fact manner, ever ready to accept how the twists and turns of everyday life can blend into more audacious alternate realities. In these eight stories, we see that phenomenon most disarmingly in "Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey," in which a monkey strides into a sauna at a remote hotel and asks the narrator if he would like to have his back scrubbed, speaking "in the alluring voice of a doo-wop baritone." It is the doo-wop note that pulls us into the story, somehow making this tale of a monkey looking for love utterly believable and all the more poignant. Similarly, in "Charlie Parker Plays Bossa Nova," the narrator begins by recounting how he once wrote a story positing that bebop pioneer Parker recorded a bossa-nova album (an impossibility for multiple reasons), but then the story changes direction when the fantasy album turns up in a record shop decades later, and Parker makes a dream cameo. The glue that holds together Murakami's blending realities--in these stories and, indeed, in all of his fiction--is always the narrator's love for something (a woman, a song, a baseball team, a moment in the past) that is both life-giving and deeply melancholic. Masterful short fiction."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Murakami's engrossing collection (after the novel Killing Commendatore) offers a crash course in his singular style and vision, blending passion for music and baseball and nostalgia for youth with portrayals of young love and moments of magical realism. The one thing shared by the collection's eight stories is their use of the first-person-singular voice. Murakami's gift for evocative, opaque magical realism shines in "Charlie Parker Plays Bossa Nova," in which a review of a fictional album breathes new life into the ghost of the jazz great, and "Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey," wherein a talking monkey ruminates with a traveler on love and belonging. Murakami finds ample material in young love and sex, showcased in "On a Stone Pillow," in which a young man's brief tryst with a coworker, unremarkable in itself, takes on a degree of immortality after she mails him her poetry. In "The Yakult Swallows Poetry Collection," the collection's one nonfiction piece, Murakami recounts how baseball and writing, the twin passions of his youth, grew together in the stadium of his beloved Yakult Swallows. These shimmering stories are testament to Murakami's talent and enduring creativity. (Apr.)"
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Additional Information
Subjects Literature
Fantasy
Short Stories
Fiction
Publisher Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group2021
Language English
ISBN 9780593318089