A Playlist for Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84

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For my 21st birthday, two of my friends gave me a copy of “1Q84.” At the time, I had a lukewarm relationship with Murakami’s works.The first Murakami I read was “A Wild Sheep Chase”, and Sheepman just absolutely befuddled me. Murakami’s work was the first encounter I’d had with something this strange, without all of the loose ends tied up neatly by the end.  Today, some five years later, I am a self-professed Murakami enthusiast. While I still haven’t read all the books he’s written, I’m going through a few a year. Since I finished my reading goal six months early this year (go me!), I decided to tackle a few of the big books that I’ve always been meaning to get through. One of these big books that I’ve been intimidated of is Haruki Murakami’s “1Q84” — almost a thousand pages of a surreal adventure? How exhausting!

One of my favorite parts of Murakami books is the music that he incorporates. There’s always a piece of classical music that runs throughout the course of each book, for example The Thieving Magpie in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Although much longer, 1Q84 is no different. Janacek’s “Sinfonietta” opens “1Q84” and then reappears throughout the stories. Murakami talks about why he chose “Sinfonietta” in an interview with Sam Anderson:

It is, as the book suggests, truly the worst possible music for a traffic jam: busy, upbeat, dramatic — like five normal songs fighting for supremacy inside an empty paint can. This makes it the perfect theme for the frantic, lumpy, violent adventure of “1Q84.” Shouting over the music, Murakami told me that he chose the “Sinfonietta” precisely for its weirdness. “Just once I heard that music in a concert hall,” he said. “There were 15 trumpeters behind the orchestra. Strange. Very strange. . . . And that weirdness fits very well in this book. I cannot imagine what other kind of music is fitting so well in this story.”

After Murakami has evidently put so much thought into his music selection, it’s only logical to check it out. I’ve put together a playlist inspired by 1Q84, and I’ve got to say, “Sinfonietta” is perfectly weird for a Tokyo with two moons and little people running amok. Interspersed between the different movements of Sinfonietta are other songs that are mentioned in the book.

What are your favorite songs in Murakami books? Are there other authors who use music in a similar way?

I’ve compiled playlists for two other Murakami books — I hope to make playlists for all the other ones one day.

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1Q84 – a list of meals

The plain descriptions Murakami uses to show the fairly mundane details about the characters’ lives are very comforting to me. He tells us their routines, the inventory of their closets, the ingredients in their meals. The meals are often described as simple; many strike me as quite lonely. Some meals are both, and very few are neither. At any rate, I have attempted to catalog what I think is a pretty complete list of meals across all three books and rank them in order of simplicity.

“the most famous French restaurant in the city”

“Have you decided?” she asked.
“Pretty much,” Ayumi said.
“So what are you going to order?”
“I’ll have the mussels, the three-onion salad, and the Bordeaux-braised Iwate veal stew. How about you?”
“I’d like the lentil soup, the warm spring green salad, and the parchment-baked monkfish with polenta. Not much of a match for a red wine, but it’s free, so I can’t complain.”
“Mind sharing a little?”
“Not at all,” Aomame saiad. “And if you don’t mind, let’s share the deep-fried shrimp to start.”

the dowager and I differ on what is simple

“A simple meal is all I can offer you, if that’s all right,” the dowager said.

The dinner consisted of boiled white asparagus, salad Nicoise, a crabmeat omelet, and rolls and butter, nothing more.

“Sorry, but these simple things are all I can make,” says Tengo, who uses the word simple lightly

Tengo washed the rice, put it in the cooker, and turned on the switch. He used the time until the rice was ready to make miso soup with wakame seaweed and green onions, grill a sun-dried mackerel, take some tofu out of the refrigerator and flavor it with ginger, grate a chunk of daikon radish, and reheat some leftover boiled vegetables. To go with the rice, he set out some pickled turnip slices and a few pickled plums.

if you think this is a repetitve meal, you should know what I eat for breakfast every day

Breakfast was exactly the same every day – dried horse mackerel and fried eggs, a quartered tomato, seasoned dries seaweed, miso soup with shijimi clams, and rice – but for some reason it tasted wonderful every morning.

Tengo makes “nothing special”

Grilling a dried mackerel and grating a daikon radish. Making a miso soup with littlenecks and green onions to eat with tofu. Dousing cucumber slices and wakame seaweed with vinegar. Ending up with rice and nappa pickles.

I decided to look up wakame at this point

Listening to tracks like “Mother’s Little Helper” and “Lady Jane,” he made rice pilaf using ham and mushrooms and brown rice, and miso soup with tofu and wakame. He boiled cauliflower and favored it with curry sauce he prepared. He made a green bean and onion salad.

this sounds less nice when you know it is hospital food

Tengo had a salad, cooked vegetables, and miso soup with asari clams and scallions, washed down with hot hojicha tea.

Tengo is good with knives

Tengo chopped a lot of ginger to a fine consistency. Then he sliced some celery and mushrooms into nice-sized pieces. The Chinese parsley, too, he chopped up finely. He peeled the shrimp and washed them at the sink. … When the edamame were finished boiling, he drained them in a colander and left them to cool. Next he warmed a large frying pan and dribbled in some sesame oil and spread it over the bottom. He slowly fried the chopped ginger over a low flame.

that’s all

The waiter came for their orders. Fuka-Eri still had her coat on. She ordered a salad and bread. “That’s all,” she said, returning the menu to the waiter.

[Tengo] ordered seafood linguine and decided to join Fuka-Eri in a glass of white wine.

curry and pie

Once the film had been processed and printed, he went to a nearby chain restaurant and looked through them in chronological order while eating a meal of chicken curry. … He called the waitress over and asked her about the day’s dessert. Peach pie, she replied. Ushikawa ordered a piece and a refill of coffee.

Ushikawa buys noodles

Then he went to a soba noodle shop and ordered a bowl of soba noodles with tempura. It had been a while since he had a hot meal. He savored the tempura noodles and drank down the last drop of broth.

beer and barbecue

The three nurses ate and drank a lot, and Tengo couldn’t keep up. As they got livelier, he sat beside them, quietly eating a moderate amount of grilled meat and sipping his draft beer so he didn’t get drunk.

breakfast foods for dinner

He drank some tomato juice from the fridge, boiled water, ground coffee beans and made coffee, toasted a slice of bread. He set the timer and cooked a soft-boiled egg.

Tengo gets more on my level

Tengo was hungry, so he fried some eggs and ate them with the cauliflower. He made some toast and drank two mugs of coffee.

I think the portable stove makes it sadder

He heated a can of chicken soup over a portable stove and carefully sipped it with a spoon. He ate two cold rolls, then polished off an apple, peel and all.

definitely the saddest meal

He opened a tin of corned beef, spread some on a roll, and ate it, standing up in the kitchen. He drank a container of lukewarm canned coffee. Nothing had any taste.

Tamaru’s “simple dishes”

They were simple cucumber and cheese sandwiches on brown bread, but were subtly flavored.

more wakame but a pretty lame dinner 

At five thirty he made a simple dinner. … He made a tomato and wakame salad and ate a slice of toast.

snacks that I too can make

Feeling a little hungry, she took out some Camembert, cut a wedge, and ate it with crackers. When the cheese was half gone, she washed a stalk of celery, spread it with mayonnaise, and munched it whole.

a sad description of breakfast but at least he enjoys his lunch

The next morning, after a breakfast of cheese and crackers washed down by instant coffee. … Before noon he went to the discount store near the station and bought a small electric space heater. He then went to the same noodle place he had been to before, opened his newspaper, and ate an order of hot tempura soba.

like… airplane food?

He brought my meals on a tray and then took them away when I was finished. They used paper plates and flimsy plastic knives, forks, and spoons. The food they brought was ordinary prepared food in silver foil packages – not very good, but not so bad you wouldn’t eat it.

a spartan lunch

Lunch was usually a green salad and fruit.

sometimes sandwiches

Occasionally he would have a light sandwich, but usually he ate nothing.

a hot breakfast

As he ate his hot breakfast and drank tea, Tengo went over the events of the previous night.

a plain breakfast

She made herself a pot of coffee, toasted some bread, and boiled an egg.

a simple breakfast

She got up every day at six thirty and had a simple breakfast.

 

In conclusion, I have learned that all characters (perhaps except Tamaru) have much higher standards for their food than I do.

Books I Read in September

September was a very crazy whirlwind kind of month. I took a trip to Alabama, threw a party, got sick, recovered & got sick again, and have been scrambling to be prepared for my classes in my free time. I was genuinely expecting not to have time to read at all, so looking back I was pleasantly surprised to have read 7 books this month. There were a lot of hits, and a few misses. I present to you, in chronological order:

wind-up birdHaruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – The book starts with the search for a missing cat and quickly derails into something else entirely. The characters in this book are some of the more magical and intense ones that I have encountered in his books, and I loved how he interspersed the novel with memories and other people’s stories. I loved the story of the zoo keeper, which seems to be a recurring motif in this month’s books. Murakami is able to turn the most gruesome and horrific things into a surreal and dreamlike kind of horror. When the book is over, you feel like you are coming out of a long trance – which to me, is such a specific feeling and experience that comes from reading a Murakami.

***

Between the World and MeTa-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me – This book is constructed as a letter to Coates’ fifteen-year-old son about the realities of living as a Black man in America. I have had a hard time processing this book, which I think is precisely Coates’ objective.The book forces you to confront a lot of difficult issues; it will outrage you and make you want to cry. It will make you feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, but I think by doing that, it forces you to try to come up with solutions and start a conversation with other people.

***

mad about the boyHelen Fielding’s Bridget Jones Mad About the Boy – Over fifteen years since we last saw Bridget Jones, Helen Fielding’s third book picks up with a middle-aged Bridget. A lot has changed, she is in her fifties, has two children, and has been widowed. However, Bridget has not changed much otherwise, she may have even regressed – she just has more on her plate. Now she counts both calories eaten and nits found in her childrens’ hair, Twitter followers gained and number of parents enraged. I’d say skip the book and hope Renee Zellweger signs on for a third movie.

***

life of pi

Yann Martel’s Life of Pi – It only took me a few years, but I finally got around to reading Life of Pi. I have even been putting off the movie until I’ve read the book. One problem with reading a book so many years after its critical acclaimed debut is that your expectations are too high. I was definitely a little underwhelmed by the book, although I would still want to watch the movie. There were a few parts that I really loved, and I loved the ending of the book as well. Interestingly, this is the second book I read this month with a main character whose father was a zookeeper. Isn’t that a funny coincidence?

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Room (1)Emma Donoghue’s Room – I already wrote about Room earlier this week. I am really looking forward to the movie this fall. The book was loosely inspired by the true facts of the Fritzl case, which emerged in Austria in 2008. It’s an absolutely horrifying story of a woman named Elisabeth who was hidden and held by her father for 24 years. I have kind of struggled over whether it is wrong for me (and others) to find pleasure in some of these horrific stories, whether it’s a book like this or watching a violent crime show. What do you think? I think on the one hand it can either show the beauty and resilience of human nature, on the other, is it making us less sensitive to the real-life crimes occurring around us?

***

Aziz Ansari's Modern Romance

Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance – I also wrote about this earlier this week (I am getting better about writing timely reviews!) so I will leave you with a quote.

“Spend more time with people, less time in front of a screen, and—since we’re all in it together—be nice to people.”

***

go set a watchman Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman – The much anticipated and controversial follow up to To Kill a Mockingbird has left me struggling to reconcile it with the characters that I grew up with and loved. I have been reading a lot of reviews and think pieces about this book now that I’ve read it for myself. I will say that I found the flashbacks to be absolutely perfect: Jem, Scout & Dill playing in their backyard in the summertime, Scout’s first school dance. Harper Lee shows us that she has always possessed a really wonderful way with language and vocabulary. Her wit is as sharp as ever, and I found myself barking with laughter at parts, but cringing through other parts.

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If you only read one book from this list, read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. What did you read in September? What should I read in October?

A Playlist for Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

starling 1

“When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along with an FM broadcast of the overture to Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie, which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta.”

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The Thieving Magpie follows Toru Okada throughout The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – the perfect music for cooking pasta, stalking hotel bell boys, and traveling to the realm of your subconscious. I just finished reading Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle last night, and it was quite the journey! As to be expected, Murakami created a very lyrical and eerie world that starts with a man searching for a missing cat, which of course leads to many strange and magical things happening.

I had so much fun making a playlist for Kafka on the Shore that I thought I’d make one for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle as well. Most of these songs were mentioned by Murakami, but I threw in a few extras of my own choice for good measure. Have you read the book before? What songs would you add to this playlist?

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Please see the tracklist and playlist below:

  1.  Eight Days a Week – The Yesterdays (because Spotify doesn’t have the Beatles)
  2. Billy Jean – The Thrillers (because Spotify doesn’t have Michael Jackson)
  3. Jump – Van Halen
  4. The Hawaiian Wedding Song – Andy Williams
  5. Hat and Beard – Eric Dolphy
  6. The Thieving Magpie – Gioachino Rossini
  7. The Big Ship – Brian Eno
  8. Tara’s Theme – Percy Faith
  9. The Musical Offering – J.S. Bach
  10. Fake Plastic Trees – Radiohead

Click here to launch The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Playlist

Photo Credit: Lomokev @ Flickr

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: Malta + Creta Kano’s Hats

Wind Up Bird
I just started reading Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. In it, Toru Okada and his wife Kumiko are searching for their missing cat. Somehow, a mysterious woman with psychic abilities, Malta Kano, and her sister, Creta Kano, appear to help locate the cat. Malta Kano wears a signature red vinyl hat, and Creta is mentioned wearing a yellow knit hat.
This got me to thinking, if Malta and Creta were real, what other kinds of hats would they wear? I’ve included a few quotes about hats and a collage of some of the best hats I could find for Malta and Creta.
murakami quote
murakami quote
murakami quote
Malta + Creta Kano's Hats

Which hat is your favorite? What other book characters can you think of who have signature clothing items?

This Week in Review: 8/21/2015

This Week in Review

Happy Friday, everyone! Here are the things we’ve been looking at this week:

Grow Up

  • We are obsessed with Katarina Pridavkova‘s sculpture project called Grow Up. I would watch a movie that takes place in this little town – wouldn’t you?

dismaland banksy

gorey

Learning the alphabet gave you night terrors, and even now you have a deep seated fear of being mauled by a bear.

EEEEOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUHHH
verb

1. To realize the pattern of ruin plaguing your life is not a result of chronic bad luck, but poor foresight and compulsive self-destruction.

2. There’s a bat in your hair! Get it out!

This Week We Posted:

bears in pool

And finally, we hope your weekend is as lovely as this bear family playing in a pool!

Adaptation: Kafka on the Shore

The Ninagawa Company recently came to Lincoln Center to perform their adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. As soon as I saw posters start to go up, I was intrigued and knew I had to see it. How could you possibly turn such a dense and surreal book into a three hour play? The answer is – interpret, edit, adapt.

Kafka 3

Kafka + Crow

Even the description of the play on the official website suggests it will have a much more straightforward plot than the book.

In a tale of two parallel journeys, 15-year-old Kafka and an imaginary friend run away from home in search of his estranged mother and sister and to escape an Oedipal curse. His journey runs side by side that of a fellow searcher—an old man with uncanny abilities seeking a magical stone he believes will offer divine guidance. As their odysseys entwine in modern-day Japan, reality, dream, and myth converge in an allegorical tale that resonates viscerally but resists logical explanation.

There may have been something lost in translation, however, because the play doesn’t even mention an Oedipal curse. Also, I would never have called Crow an “imaginary friend” – would you have? The play was entirely in Japanese, and we had to read subtitles off a banner on top of the stage. I’ve done this before for operas, but never for a play. After the first five minutes of adjusting, I hardly noticed and felt entirely absorbed in the play.

Kafka 4

Johnnie Walker in his basement

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