Thursday, July 4, 2013

Reads #16: June 2013

murakami on the balcony
Dance Dance Dance (Haruki Murakami, 1988)

Oh dear, another laborious read I'm afraid, but for completely different reasons than I Capture the Castle. I kept getting distracted by pesky flash-backs from the previous book in the Trilogy of the Rat, A Wild Sheep Chase. I just couldn't place them back in the context of the story, I have such a bad memory and kind of regret I didn't bother a re-read.
With that being said, I feel it's no way vital to read it to enjoy Dance Dance Dance to the fullest as Murakami skillfully places plot reminders when the story calls for them (nothing as heavy as 1Q84 thank God for that).
I had been keeping Dance Dance Dance in my towering 'to-read' pile for a good while now as I was getting anxious with my running low on Murakami material. And as the famous Japanese author released his latest offering this April (Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage's translation is due in 2014), I felt at peace to finally pick it up.
My own goldfish struggles aside, Dance Dance Dance is a thrilling read, but I can't help feeling that I benefited from leaving such a long lapse before opening another Murakami's book (I read 1Q84 in April last year), it probably saved me from an overdose.
It was a bit like watching a renowned magician whose tricks I already knew. The element of surprise and wonderment receded, but my admiration for the author was left intact.
Dance Dance Dance picks up 5 years after The Wild Sheep Chase ended. Our narrator, who seems to be leading a meaningless life, is troubled by vivid dreams calling him back to the Dolphin Hotel, the location of his previous adventures. There, his former girlfriend suddenly disappeared and he now intends to find her again.
This quest takes him through a series of weird events and encounters, and I found it serves as an exhilarating parable for the search of self-discovery and the eternal pursuit of happiness.

Favourite quote: As time goes on, you'll understand. What lasts, lasts; what doesn't, doesn't. Time solves most things. And what time can't solve, you have to solve yourself.

l'écume des jours L'Écume des jours (Boris Vian, 1947)

Since stumbling upon the trailer of Michel Gondry's adaptation of this book last April, I've been obsessed with the idea of reading L'Écume des Jours (it might be another reason why it was so hard for me to get into Dance Dance Dance).
Looking back to my highschool years, I find it weird that I actually never read Vian before. His songs were played in an obsessive loop at my best friend's and I remember class mates reading him on several occasions, but they didn't seem very enthusiastic (side remark: don't you hate when people are tepid about what they like?). I even had a short-lived passion for Jean-Paul Sartre. Weird.
Anyways, let's go back to the actual book and its plot. The protagonist is called Colin, he's rich, he has a talented cook, Nicolas, and lives in a house worthy of Inspector Gadget. Colin seems pretty happy until his best friend, Chick, falls in love. This makes Colin terribly jealous and he decides to find the girl of his dreams too. He won't have to wait long as she will appear in the person of Chloe at a dinner party where they were both invited.
You could say that Colin is the male Amelie Poulain, but the book has a definite dark side.
While it is incredibly playful with surrealistic situations and puns and fantastic machines, the most striking absurdities are inspired from our very own lives: death is nearly always portrayed as faceless and inconsequential, mirroring our news reports, the hilarious catch-22 of job interviews, people spending most of their life on jobs they don't give two damns about, etc...
As you can see, beyond the whimsical love story, this book is in fact a real satire.
My heart was completely taken away by this story and L'Écume des jours has now become one of my favourite book of all time.
One regret I have though is that there's absolutely no secret on the outcome of this book: I was spoilt just looking at the back of my book or watching Gondry's trailer. I guess that's not what the book is ultimately about, but I feel I would have connected more with the characters had I not known their fate.
Don't worry you're safe here and if you want to keep it that way, I'd recommend not to read or watch anything before opening this book.
Which is a bit of a pity because the trailer looks totally epic, I feel there couldn't have been a better fit than Michel Gondry for this adaptation. I did read though that he got a few bad reviews, critics accused him of overloading the story with special effects. It made me wonder if those journalists actually read the book because there's something magical happening at literally every line.
With that being said, I can't wait to make my own judgement. While it's been released this spring in French-speaking countries, no date has been announced for the UK/US, but it looks like the film will be called Mood Indigo.
Here are a couple of screenshots I took from the trailer in case you want to avoid being spoilt:


Louise said...

Oh whew, Dance Dance Dance! It's a Murakami I still haven't read. I'm right now stuck in the second book of 1Q84, still debating if I want to go through because it has some gory details I don't really want to know, haha!

L'écume des jours I have never seen or read. But it looks so promising! Thanks for sharing!

moira said...

@louise: i think i know what you're refering to *shudders* but i think it's still worth to power through it though ;)

Lamirose said...

Most of my friends who saw L'ecume des jours, told me that it was not Gondry's best film.

moira said...

aw really? it can't be worse than Be Kind Rewind, can it? x

Extra Solar said...

It's been too long since I've read a Murakami novel. Will definitely have to see what they have at the library now...

moira said...

which ones did you read already? x

Emma said...

I hadn't heard of either of these books, but I sure am looking forward to the adaptation, mostly because it stars my boyfriend Romain Duris! ;)

Every Summer I am determined to read more and then I get distracted by other things, I'm still only halfway through Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk. I have so many books on my to read list!

Emma x

V said...

I always adore reading your book reviews - so insightful without giving much away at all (something my mum hasn't learnt about when recommending books!) :) I'm particularly intrigued about the Vian novel and its film adaptation - I haven't even watched the trailer to keep it all a surprise ! Can't wait to add it on to my reading list this summer alongside all your upcoming blog posts x

little henry lee said...

i didn't realise so many of murakami's books were part of a trilogy. i've read a couple of his and really liked his writing style but haven't delved in deeply enough to know what goes in what order since the names of the books don't clearly indicate it. it's a shame when you read the first part of a trilogy and wait too long to read the second part but sometimes if you read them all in a row you do get a bit saturated in the author and it can lose it's charm a little. it's a tricky balance!

little henry lee

moira said...

@Emma: I can certainly relate to that, too many good things to do during the summer and books suffer :) my regards to your boyfriend romain haha :p xx

@Victoria: thank you, it makes me happy that you enjoy them as they are the posts i'm always the most nervous about. Let me know what you think of 'L'Ecume...' if you end up reading it this summer! xx

@little henry lee: oh i have a feeling my post was confusing, sorry about that. 1q84 is a trilogy on its own and then there's the trilogy of the rat composed of pinball, 1973 + the wild sheep chase + dance dance dance. As far as I can remember the other murakami's are standalone books. I am not good with balance, when I like something I use and abuse until I can't stand it anymore haha. What are your favourite authors? xx

aki! said...

I've never read any Murakami, but it's definitely on the list.

7% Solution​

Unknown said...

I just finished a couple of Murakami books (after the quake and wind up bird chronicle) and i definately agree that you should take a breather between them, its a lot to take it in a short span. I've never heard of L'ecume des jours, but now you've got me hooked-I want to read it! and the trailer looks so whimsical

Little Blue Backpack

lol said...

I've never read Murakami books! I heard a lot of good things about them but I've never tried. Thank you for recomendation, I'll buy it soon! ;3
By the way, amazing blog. I follow you!

Lima said...

I had to comment after reading the quote. Some quotes are just SO obvious, as in like, common sense? But reading it on a laptop, a book, or where ever, it really does sink in.


moira said...

@aki!: i don't think you'll regret it, norwegian wood is a good place to start. thanks for stopping by x

@Shannon Broderick: 'after the quake' is one of the last ones I haven't read yet, did you like it? Hope you'll enjoy l'écume des jours! x

@Julia: i think 'norwegian wood' or 'kafka on the shore' are a good introduction to murakami if you want to start reading him. Thank you for your support dear, it is much appreciated <3

@Halima: yes, sometimes I think I need to be reminded of the obvious :) thanks for your comment x

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