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Andrea Lee Reads Haruki Murakami

The New Yorker: Fiction

09:12 min | 4 years ago

Andrea Lee Reads Haruki Murakami

"We're going to hear barn burning by rookie Murakami translated from the Japanese beneath by Philip Gabriel which was published in the New Yorker in November of nineteen ninety. Two when you try to put it in words it doesn't sound like anything special but if you see it with your own eyes for ten or twenty minutes we were just chatting at the bar and almost without thinking she kept on performing. It gradually the center offensive. Reality is sucked right out of everything around you. The story was chosen by Andrea Lee. WHO's the author of the National Book Award Nominated Memoir Russian Journal and four books of fiction including the forthcoming Rhode Island House which we published in twenty twenty one? Hi Andrea Hi Deborah. So so wh what made you choose a story by Murakami to read today. Well this is always been a story that I was very fond of I. I read it a longtime ago actually in the magazine and then I read it again when the collection came out on the elephant vanishes but I was reminded of how much I liked it when I saw a film film that is somewhat based on it which is Burning that just came out this year by Lee Chang Dong the Korean that Korean director which is is a wonderful fell so I went back and of course reread the the more comedy story and and remember just how much I how much you know. Satisfies satisfies me in every way has everything I like in a story. So what are those things that you look for in a story. Well what I particularly like again in stories and more coming in particular is the grounding that he does in the details of the everyday world and then somehow managing to enter subtly in other dimensions into other realms. This particular story would starts out almost in a banal fashion becomes uh-huh terribly frightening it becomes a mystery. It becomes frightening on on so many levels. Yeah it's interesting that you called it a satisfying story because for me. It's the story that leaves many many questions unanswered or unsatisfied. But maybe that's is that his faction of like about it. You know the satisfaction for me is the fact that it's mystery that it is completely unsolved at the end and yet somehow there is that that is a very that is a solution for me and interestingly enough the film goes in a different direction and much as revealed the end and I wasn't quite satisfied with the you know with quite a definite solution into the mystery in the film as I was to the mysteries of the remains in the story. Yeah Yeah it allows your your imagination to provide the ending. Yes exactly exactly. The story was written Quite early in in Murakami's writing career. It was published in Japanese in nineteen eighty-three when he was I think in his mid thirties or early thirties. do you think that it feels like early work for him or do you think it's consistent with his later writing I think it's consistent with With all the themes. I can't really speak as a more copy expert because I have not read everything that he's written but I feel that it's consistent in all of the stories. I've read of his. This feeling of parallel lives parallel. Worlds this terrible cre- penis that enters into ordinary live I think it's all they're running. I think You know it has all the elements that we recognize as as being classic Ugh more common elements. Yeah we'll we'll talk some more after the story. Now here's Andrea Lee Reading Barn burning by rookie Murakami translated from the Japanese knees. Bhai Philip Gabriel Barn burning. I met her at a friend's wedding reception here in Tokyo. And we got to know. Oh other three years ago. There is nearly a dozen years age difference between us. She being twenty and I thirty one not that it battered much idolize. ELSOM my mind then and didn't have time to worry about things like age and she didn't care about the difference at all. I was married to but that didn't bother her either for her your age or marital status or income. Were like your shoe size. How high or low your voices the shape of if your fingernails in other words? Not the kind of thing you can do anything about come to think of it. I guess she's right. She was studying with that guy. I can't remember his name. That famous mime and working as an advertising model to make ends meet but she usually found it too much trouble to go out on the assignments. Her agent got her so her income didn't amount to much what it didn't cover her boyfriend's made up. Of course I don't know for sure but things thinks she said seemed to hint at that kind of arrangement. I'm not saying that. She slept with men for money. Maybe there were times when something close to that took place but but that's not the point. Something else was at work. In her relations with men there was a simplicity about her that attracted a certain type of man he look at that unabashed simplicity and want to put it together with his own complicated bottled up feelings. I can't explain it well but oh I think that's what was going on. You could say that. She lived on her simplicity. Naturally you couldn't expect things to work that way all the time that would turn turn the whole structure of the universe upside down. It could only happen under certain conditions in a certain time and place the way it did with the tendering appealing appealing. Let me tell you about. This tangerine peeling as I mentioned when I first met her. She told me she was studying. Mime that so I said and didn't surprise me too much young women. These days are all studying something or other. But she didn't seem the type who'd be serious about perfecting a skill then she showed me the tendering peeling as the name says it involves peeling. A Tangerine on her left was a bowl piled high with tangerines. Insurance on her right Abo- for the peel. At least that was the idea. Actually there wasn't anything there at all she taken imaginary. Very Tangerine in her hand slowly. Peel it but one section in her mouth and spit out the seeds when she'd finished one tangerine she'd wrap up all the seats in the peel and deposit it in the ball to her right. She repeated these movements over and over again. When you try to put it in words it doesn't sound like anything special but if you see it with your own eyes for ten or twenty minutes we were just chatting at the bar and almost without thinking she kept on performing it gradually? The sense of reality is sucked right out of everything around you. It's a very strange feeling. A long time ago. When Adolf Eichmann was on trial in an Israeli court someone said that fitting punishment for him would be locking him in an airtight room and slowly pumping all the air out? I don't know how he actually died. The story just sort of popped into my head. You're pretty talented. I told her this. It's easy s nothing to do with talent. What you do isn't make yourself believe that? Their tangerines Rian Stare. You forget that the tangerines are not there. That's all sounds like then I could see we were going to get along. We didn't go without all that often about once a month twice in most at caller up and ask her where she'd like to go we'd have to have a few drinks in a bar and talk up a storm arm and listen to her talk. She'd listened to me. We had hardly anything in common to talk about but that didn't matter. I guess you'd say we were friends. Naturally I paid for everything. Thank all the food and drink a few times. She called me up usually when she'd run out of money and was hungry on those occasions. She ate like you wouldn't believe I was is completely relaxed when I was with her. I could erase everything from my mind all the work. I didn't want to do the jumble of senseless ideas people people carry around in their heads. She had that effect on me. She didn't talk about anything in particular often. I would just Kim nodding my head not really picking up the gist of her words but listening to her made me feel relaxed as if I were gazing drifting clouds far off in the distance. It's I talked about all sorts of things too. I told her as honestly as I could. My thoughts on everything from personal dilemmas to the a state of the world. You name it. Maybe she was doing the same thing. I did just nodding her head as she listened to me without any of its sinking in. But I didn't care what I was looking for was a certain feeling. It feeling that had nothing to do with sympathy or understanding

Murakami Andrea Lee Philip Gabriel National Book Award Lee Chang Dong Bhai Philip Gabriel Barn Rhode Island House Director Russian Journal Adolf Eichmann Tokyo KIM Rian Stare