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Thursday, October 23, 2003

I read Haruki Murakami's story, "Birthday Girl" when it appeared in Harper's. It is hard to say what about Murakami's writing I enjoy so much-- surely the echoes of Raymond Chandler are as much a function of the translation as they are of his prose, but of course I'll never know. And how much is it like Chandler, really? There isn't much that is like Farewell My Lovely in any of his writing in one way. Of course, in another, reading Murakami is like overhearing a long evening's half drunk conversation between Chandler and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

And yet, it is not quite like that, either. Murakami is one of the most vividly descriptive writers I enjoy. Just as Chicago looked like The Adventures of Augie March, just like San Francisco was familiar to me from The Maltese Falcon, I knew Tokyo from the time I set foot on the ground because I'd read Murakami. I feel like I've eaten in the restaurant he describes in this story.

I don't care much for reading fiction online, but I'm glad I had a chance to re-read "Birthday Girl".

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