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Along with his reputation as the enfant terrible of Japanese literature, internationally-acclaimed author Ryu Murakami, one of the "two Murakamis" (along with Haruki), has acquired cult status among readers who appreciate his agile imagination, mordant prose and laser-like eye for the often-absurd details of modern life.
With Sixty-Nine, available now for the first time in an English-language trade paperback, this literary bad boy steps out of character with delightful results. Here is a lighthearted, funny tale about a group of students struggling to make sense of a rapidly-changing Japan in the late 1960s. But Murakami never loses his sharply perceptive view of the world, as he tells his coming-of-age story.
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Whether writing novels, directing films or playing drums in a rock band, RYU MURAKAMI has remained on the cutting edge of popular culture in Japan. He is the recipient of some of the country's most prestigious awards, including the Akutagawa Prize in 1976 for his debut novel, Almost Transparent Blue, which has gone on to sell over two million copies worldwide; and the Yomiuri Literary Award in 1998 for In the Miso Soup, published by Kodansha in hardcover in the United States in 2003, with a trade paperback edition coming from Penguin in 2006. In 1992, Murakami wrote and directed the film "Tokyo Decadence," which had its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. He also wrote and directed the film version of Sixty-Nine (2004), available on DVD in English. A movie of Coin Locker Babies is scheduled for a 2006/07 release, with a screenplay by Sean Lennon and starring Val Kilmer.
[The following excerpt is from "Power to the Imagination.]
The building was absolutely silent, and the only light was from the moon, streaming in through the windows; it was like being on a different planet. The fact that this was a place we clattered through in a noisy crowd almost every day only made the tension worse. We pulled Nakamura to his feet and dragged him away from the entrance, as far as the door of the principal's office. Getting away from the watchmen's room was a bit of a relief, but now Nakamura was hyperventilating. "Asshole," I said. "Go back to the pool." Nakamura shook his head. "You don't understand. I ... I..." Sweat was pouring down his face. "What? What is it?" Nakamura wagged his head again. Adama shook him by the shoulders. "Tell us. What is it? Ken and me are scared, too, man. There's nothing to be ashamed of. What's the problem?"
"I have to go doo-doo."
It wasn't fair: why should his bowel problems give us a stomachache? I rolled on the floor trying to smother my laughter, with my right hand over my mouth and my left holding my belly, heaving with hiccoughing spasms. Adama was doing the same. Tension only encourages laughter: it's never so hard to stop laughing as when you mustn't laugh. All we had to do was mutter "doo-doo" and the giggles would burst in our guts, then come bubbling up our throats. I closed my eyes and tried to remember the saddest things that had ever happened to me: the New Year's Day when my parents hadn't bought me the Patton tank model I'd wanted; the time my father had had an affair and my mother left home for three days; my little sister being hospitalized with asthma; the pigeon that didn't come back when I let it loose; the time I dropped my pocket money at a local festival; a penalty shootout in the prefectural junior high soccer finals, which our team lost. None of them worked. Adama had both hands over his mouth and was shuddering and wheezing. I'd never realized how hard it could be to control the giggles. I drew a picture of Kazuko Matsui in my mind: her slender, milky calves, her Bambi eyes, her white arms, the awesome curve of the nape of her neck--and the spasms finally stopped. Such is the power of beautiful women: they can even stifle laughter, make a man sober and serious. After a while Adama, too, stood up, drenched with sweat. He told me later he'd pictured the charred corpses he'd once seen after a mine explosion. Being forced to remember a scene like that must have made him angry: he rapped Nakamura on the head with his fist.
"Asshole. I thought I was going to lose my mind," I said and quietly opened the door to the principal's office. "Hey, Nakamura."
"Is it diarrhea?"
"I don't know."
"Can you do it right away?"
"It's already poking its head out."
"Do it up there."
"Eh?" he said, and his jaw dropped. I was pointing at the principal's desk.
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Book Description Kodansha USA. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 4770030134 . Seller Inventory # Z4770030134ZN
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