12:17PM: Eat potato chip, look at soy-based sandwich, write blog post.

That’s right – one chip.  Two new reviews of After Dark capture the book in ways some of the hot-air reviews in your local large, dying newspaper doesn’t.  One review in particular – I won’t point fingers, you can guess the one – looked like a dog humping the leg of Murakami’s prose style.  A Mexican chi-wow-wow.

The first:

3:31 pm Sit down on my brown couch that looks out over the Hollywood sign and begin to read Haruki Murakami’s latest novel, After Dark, which clocks in at a slim 208 pages.

3:32 Drink water.

3:34 Realize the book is told in the present tense in a single night, with each chapter bearing a clock showing the hour, and decide to write a review that mirrors this real-time technique.

3:40 Admire Murakami for attempting to write a plural first-person narrator that seems to be a sentient camera: "We are sheer point of view . . . our viewpoint takes the form of a midair camera that can move freely about the room."

3:41 Dislike Murakami for attempting to write a plural first-person narrator that seems to be a sentient camera.

The second:

The ending was weak, but the more it goes, the more I recognize that the resolutions to the surreal or hyperreal situations life puts before me are equally generally anticlimactic and vaguely dissatisfying. You process certain moments, certain meetings, certain conversations, within a context of intensity (for some reason; why some moments and not others?) — everything is deep and meaningful; connections and significances abound. And then they dissolve.

I’d asked around a little before embarking on this book whether it was a good starting point into Murakami’s work. First thoughts were that it was as good as any, but time is dulling people’s initial impressions — apparently it pales in comparison to his other books. While After Dark didn’t blow my mind, it’s a good enough starting point in that it I’m looking forward to exploring more Murakami.

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