Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

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9780099512820: Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

A young man accompanies his cousin to the hospital to check an unusual hearing complaint and recalls a story of a woman put to sleep by tiny flies crawling inside her ear; a mirror appears out of nowhere and a nightwatchman is unnerved as his reflection tries to take control of him; a couple's relationship is unbalanced after dining exclusively on exquisite crab while on holiday; a man follows instructions on the back of a postcard to apply for a job, but an unknown password stands between him and his mysterious employer. In each one of these stories, Murakami sidesteps the real and sprints for the surreal. Everyday events are transcended, leaving the reader dazzled by this master of his craft. "Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman" is Murakami's most eclectic collection of stories to date, spanning five years of his writing. An introduction explains the diversity of the author's choice.

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About the Author:

Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949. Following the publication of his first novel in Japanese in 1979, he sold the jazz bar he ran with his wife and became a full-time writer. It was with the publication of Norwegian Wood -- which has to date sold more than 4 million copies in Japan alone -- that the author was truly catapulted into the limelight. Known for his surrealistic world of mysterious (and often disappearing) women, cats, earlobes, wells, Western culture, music and quirky first-person narratives, he is now Japan's best-known novelist abroad. Eight novels, two short story collections and one work of non-fiction are currently available in English translation. Stories translated by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

When I closed my eyes, the scent of the wind wafted up toward me. A May wind, swelling up like a piece of fruit, with a rough outer skin, slimy flesh, dozens of seeds. The flesh split open in midair, spraying seeds like gentle buckshot into the bare skin of my arms, leaving behind a faint trace of pain.

“What time is it?” my cousin asked me. About eight inches shorter than me, he had to look up when he talked.

I glanced at my watch. “Ten twenty.”

“Does that watch tell good time?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

My cousin grabbed my wrist to look at the watch. His slim, smooth fingers were surprisingly strong. “Did it cost a lot?”

“No, it’s pretty cheap,” I said, glancing again at the timetable.

No response.

My cousin looked confused. The white teeth between his parted lips looked like bones that had atrophied.

“It’s pretty cheap,” I said, looking right at him, carefully repeating the words. “It’s pretty cheap, but it keeps good time.”

My cousin nodded silently.

My cousin can’t hear well out of his right ear. Soon after he went into elementary school he was hit by a baseball and it screwed up his hearing. That doesn’t keep him from functioning normally most of the time. He attends a regular school, leads an entirely normal life. In his classroom, he always sits in the front row, on the right, so he can keep his left ear toward the teacher. And his grades aren’t so bad. The thing is, though, he goes through periods when he can hear sounds pretty well, and periods when he can’t. It’s cyclical, like the tides. And sometimes, maybe twice a year, he can barely hear anything out of either ear. It’s like the silence in his right ear deepens to the point where it crushes out any sound on the left side. When that happens, ordinary life goes out the window and he has to take some time off from school. The doctors are basi- cally stumped. They’ve never seen a case like it, so there’s nothing they can do.

“Just because a watch is expensive doesn’t mean it’s accurate,” my cousin said, as if trying to convince himself. “I used to have a pretty expensive watch, but it was always off. I got it when I started junior high, but I lost it a year later. Since then I’ve gone without a watch. They won’t buy me a new one.”

“Must be tough to get along without one,” I said.

“What?” he asked.

“Isn’t it hard to get along without a watch?” I repeated, looking right at him.

“No, it isn’t,” he replied, shaking his head. “It’s not like I’m living off in the mountains or something. If I want to know the time I just ask somebody.”

“True enough,” I said.

We were silent again for a while.

I knew I should say something more, try to be kind to him, try to make him relax a little until we arrived at the hospital. But it had been five years since I saw him last. In the meanwhile he’d grown from nine to fourteen, and I’d gone from twenty to twenty-five. And that span of time had created a translucent barrier between us that was hard to traverse. Even when I had to say something, the right words just wouldn’t come out. And every time I hesitated, every time I swallowed back something I was about to say, my cousin looked at me with a slightly confused look on his face. His left ear tilted ever so slightly toward me.

“What time is it now?” he asked me.

“Ten twenty-nine,” I replied.

It was ten thirty-two when the bus finally rolled into view.

Visit Haruki Murakami's official website to read more from Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.

www.harukimurakami.com

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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 176 x 110 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. A young man accompanies his cousin to the hospital to check an unusual hearing complaint and recalls a story of a woman put to sleep by tiny flies crawling inside her ear; a mirror appears out of nowhere and a night watchman is unnerved as his reflection tries to take control of him; a couple s relationship is unbalanced after dining exclusively on exquisite crab while on holiday; a man follows instructions on the back of a postcard to apply for a job, but an unknown password stands between him and his mysterious employer. In each one of these stories Murakami sidesteps the real and sprints for the surreal. Everyday events are transcended, leaving the reader dazzled by this master of his craft. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman is Murakami s most eclectic collection of stories to date, spanning five years of his writing. An introduction explains the diversity of the author s choice. Bookseller Inventory # LIB9780099512820

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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 176 x 110 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. A young man accompanies his cousin to the hospital to check an unusual hearing complaint and recalls a story of a woman put to sleep by tiny flies crawling inside her ear; a mirror appears out of nowhere and a night watchman is unnerved as his reflection tries to take control of him; a couple s relationship is unbalanced after dining exclusively on exquisite crab while on holiday; a man follows instructions on the back of a postcard to apply for a job, but an unknown password stands between him and his mysterious employer. In each one of these stories Murakami sidesteps the real and sprints for the surreal. Everyday events are transcended, leaving the reader dazzled by this master of his craft. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman is Murakami s most eclectic collection of stories to date, spanning five years of his writing. An introduction explains the diversity of the author s choice. Bookseller Inventory # LIB9780099512820

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