Next week’s story Constance’s Law by Bridget Hardy
This podcast is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spreaker. Please take a few moments to leave a review ( for Spreaker follow & heart us). Those reviews encourage us and help us be found by new listeners.
This week both Gerald and Maya both found the story difficult to enjoy, while Anais loved the story enough to give it 5 Bradberries. Despite Kenechi’s absence due to exams, this weeks podcast prompted a great discussion about what it is that lets a reader to get close to a story. You can find the Author Spotlight for Haruki Murakami.
Yes, we do have a rating scale based on Bradberries! For the history of this goofy system, see Anais’ post “Read Short Stories or Ray Bradbury Cries.” If you want to design a Bradberry, we’d love to see it. Anais has the urge to create a Bradberry collage… Imagine, Bradberries on your desktop! You gave last week’s story, Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor, 3.75 Bradberries.
On a scale of 1-6 Bradberries, how do you rate ‘Tony Takitani‘? Tell us in the comments below or via voicemail, and we will give you the final tally on the next episode.
Next week we are reading Constance’s Law by Bridget Hardy.
6 comments on Tony Takitani – Haruki Murakami – Literary Roadhouse Ep: 12
Okay… I’m relieved that Maya and Gerald felt similar to the way I did. That means I didn’t completely miss something! Sadly, this was my introduction to Murakami. Yikes! At first, I thought maybe the translation was at fault, but this was the translation that appeared in a well-respected publication, so…
Honestly, for most of the story (up until Tony asks his wife to curtail her clothing purchases), I kind of felt like, “Why does this read like an encyclopedia entry?” Sigh.
I’ll give Murakami another shot at some point, but this story was not the best way to meet him! I totally agree about the off-putting portrayal of women, too, by the way.
While trying to figure how I felt about this story, I suddenly felt like I was suffocating; I guess that means I liked it? Wait, I’ve said too much already.
I don’t think it is as much about the lack of emotions in the characters as it is their inability to express or process (or even recognize) them. They experience emotion as an unpleasant suffocating feeling. Tony picks up on the emotional nuances of his father’s playing and it ‘chokes him up’ but he is unable to understand or deal with this feeling; I have to wonder if his father is even aware that his flawless playing technique now includes this depth of feeling. There were so many layers and nuances like this that I couldn’t help but appreciate the story more after trying to summarize my feelings on it.
I think it is a subtle study of the (stereo) typical JapaneseAsian emotional experience and wonder how it would resonate with a person of that culture.
4.5 Bradberries for me.
I agree with your interpretation of the cold emotions as a sign that the men lead a life unexamined. I recently watched a movie called Synecdoche, New York starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. The movie’sprotagonist had the opposite problem. Hoffman’s character suffered from a life over examined and he is driven to madness by it. I highly recommend watching that for a contrasting approach to a similar theme (though the film also branches out the existential crisis staples such as the futility of giving life meaning – oh joy!)
Hmm. I understand the suffocation through lack of emotion, but it struck me that none of the characters exhibited any emotion, and that was probably why they didn’t engage me. I really didn’t enjoy this story, and I was expecting so much more.
I side with Anais on this one. I also understand Maya and Gerald’s dislike, the first part of the story was hard for me to get through because it was a summary, but I also found humor in it. I don’t think Murakami is just being “lazy,” the characters are purposely lonely, and the writing is purposely stark. Anais mentioned “a life unexamined”, if these characters were to tell their own life story, they would do it in such a way, just a summary. Murakami gives us the insight into these two characters’ psyche by not giving us many details. The lack of details in the story mirrors the lack of emotions in the characters.
I had the same reaction as Anais, the only time the writing gets embellished, or poetic was to describe the way she was dressed, which also leads me to believe that there’s not much more depth to this woman. I think for Tony this is part of the attraction, it makes it easy for him; he can have companionship without emotionally investing in the relationship. He can stay detached; he can “keep his loneliness.” He doesn’t mind buying her things, it’s the logistics of it that bother him (where to keep it all), but for her that was her way to fill her loneliness. In essence the clothes serve the same purpose for the wife, as the wife’s purpose is for Tony. They both filled a void without eliciting any kind of emotions. When the other woman has such a strong reaction to the clothes, he’s turned off by this, that’s why he sends her away; he can’t deal with her emotions.
I think I like to see a little more depth in my literary short fiction. There was altogether too much ‘this followed that’ for me. I got that it was about loneliness, and that was repeated through several characters, but there was no depth to the characterisation. Just my opinion!