This is an extract from a short story in the book Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami.
“Speaking of being quick on the draw” I said, “I remember a scene from an old Francois Truffaut film. A woman says to a man, ‘some people are polite, and some are quick. Each one’s a good quality to have, but most of the time quickness trumps politeness. Have you ever seen that film?”
“No, I don’t think so.” Tokai said.
“The woman gave an example. A man opens a door to find a woman inside naked, changing her clothes. The polite person says, ‘Excuse me madam,’ and swiftly shuts the door. The one who says, ‘Excuse me, monsieur’ and shuts the door, now that’s somebody who’s quick.”
Since about three months back I have been reading about Murakami at various forums and I had even been recommended one particular book by a friend – Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years Of Pilgrimage. Since I have so much of backlog of books to finish reading, I had not paid much attention to these messages that were coming to me, but I had put this book on two online book sellers’ wishlists.
My friend Anil came for a day’s visit to Pune yesterday and left today. Strangely enough, he brought precisely this book for me to read! He had brought this to finish reading on the plane on his way from Delhi and having finished reading it, left it with me with the recommendation that I read it.
I was first taken aback at the message coming at me again but kept the book aside intending to go to it after Anil left. Yesterday, after Anil had gone to catch up with some other friends, I just thought that I would see what the brouhaha about Murakami and the book was all about and before I knew it, I had started reading the book and got totally involved. I was not able to finish reading it yesterday, but I achieved that earlier this evening.
Murakami tells a story with powerful imagery and flowing structure. It did not matter that the story takes place almost entirely in Japan. The characters can be from any country in the world and the story can happen to any person anywhere in the world. Philip Gabriel’s translation is effective in so far as making it appear as though it is not a translation!
I have now decided on two courses of action. 1. To go to reading fiction again, leaving all my non fiction books aside and 2. Get and read all of Murakami’s books.