Sunday, August 17, 2014
Monday, August 11, 2014
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
The basic plot is about a man who goes searching for a lost cat, but discovers a lot about his marriage and his life in the process. It is a bit of a mystery story that has a dark and quirky David Lynch à la Twin Peaks feel to it. There are many cultural-related details that come out in the novel that I can match to things I noticed on my trip to Japan: There is the preoccupation with and day’s highlight of food (though the protagonist surprisingly eats a lot of potato salad), a fastidiousness with cleanliness and dress, reverence for apology, the importance of gardens and self-reflection and also the perseverance in being. I also really enjoyed the author’s obvious affection for jazz and cats, which my experience and observations there lead me to believe many Japanese people share.
Some people would say that the protagonist is very passive – he quits his job and people and events happen to him. Two of the only intentional things he does are to go into a dry well to try to visit a kind of parallel reality and visit a train station to watch people. But inside he is on that universal search for understanding, and I found the book very engaging, though a little long. I think the English translation combines three of his novels into one and even cuts about 25,000 words. I ordered it on ebook, but I just looked it up and it seems to be about 600 pages in hard copy. Still I would very much recommend this book to anyone interested in Japanese culture or those who enjoy magical realism and novels about self-discovery.
Below are some of my Zen inspiration photos from Japan. I have a few more on my facebook page.
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Summer Soccer Nation
I guess I am part of the phenomenon this summer. The World Cup games have been burning through the June weekend hours especially, but I tell myself it is almost too hot to do anything else (okay, except write—but watching the Cup trumps writing for the moment as I justify it as “together time” with my husband who loves the game too ;-)). Anyway, so sorry to see Mexico eliminated today. The guy below – Memo Ochoa – was my pick since the Brazil match for MVP of this tournament. And even though the Dutch are an amazing team and I usually root for them as well, the last minute penalty kick and yellow cards calls did a lot to shut down the game that had been going Mexico’s way.
Tim Howard for Team USA!The most heart-racing games of this Cup seem to have goalies with superman powers.
My memory of Summer 2014 will always contain the World Cup. For soccer fans, such an emotional finale with the Brazilian team especially will go down in the history books. The last week and a half of the Cup we were traveling and it was fun sharing the excitement in airport lounges and in different parts of the world. We got up at 5 am to watch the final match -- so devoted we were! However, in the end like all sports that require team skills, one or two people couldn’t carry the game and a well-oiled “machine” always wins. Congratulations, Germany!