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I am told that it is World Book Day this week. As Charles Dickens said, “These vazey mutton shumpers need to put down the pie and pick up a book!”
Okay, I don’t know for a fact that he said that, but since he was a working writer I’m confident he thought it.
I wanted to make a recommendation, as I don’t think World Book Day should just be encouraging the world to read a book. It should also encourage existing readers to read outside their normal comfort zones. Don’t worry, it won’t be a radical suggestion. No mutton shumping, at least, but I’m not judging if you’re lonely.
Haruki Murakami is a Japanese literary writer, one-time jazz club owner and general dude who writes, and obviously listens to, a lot of classical music.
Although Japanese, his sensibilities are more modern than Nihon-centric, and Murakami lists many Western writers among his influences and it shows. The writing certainly captures Japanese cultural themes, but ones that overlap with most of the developed world. The result is a literary perspective that is as global as it is modern, at least among urban nations.
Although he has been prolific I would start with his translated short story collection, The Elephant Vanishes. He weaves between the surreal and the mundane and sometimes juxtaposes them while occasionally dipping into magical realism emphasising the loneliness and impossibility of being truly alone in the world.
The opening story, The Wind Up Bird and Tuesday’s Women, is one of my favorites in all of short fiction.
ABOUT LETO ARMITAGE
Leto Armitage was born in America under a set of circumstances that prophesied that he would one day unite the lost tribes and return the Ever Summer. Somewhere around twelve, he realized he had been left unsupervised and binged too many Arthurian movies in his formative years and that he was just another kid who accidentally got an education while reading above his age level.
By the time he turned old enough to get a passport, he started finding excuses to travel determined to find out what culture, food and women there were to experience. After learning to grill in Oaxaca, do kinbaku in Japan, and being banned from several former Soviet block countries, he returned home to settle down and see what damage he could do locally.
After working jobs including being a short order cook, bodyguarding strippers and professionally doing reader’s advisory for erotica he realized the most reasonable path forward was to become a writer. Today he lives with cats, dogs, and humans who seem to like him despite actually knowing him. He prefers to sit on his back deck, listening to the birds and Barry the Bumblebear bee, while he writes cozy, uplit romance and raunchy erotica.