After the Quake, by Haruki Murakami, Harvill 2002
I thought this was going to be an examination of the Kobe earthquake, kind of like his earlier "Underground" (EPS review #21). Instead it is a collection of short stories, some of which I had already read in the New Yorker. I do not much like his short stories -- they do not have time time build up his trademark strangeness. The last one, "Honey Pie" was the best.
It is curious that, old and pressed for time, I no longer read short stories. In college I made an unwinnable bet with my roommate John (he was the judge) that I could provide a short story to rank with a fine novel (I think it was Catcher in the Rye). Looking back at these stories I picked then, I think it was the killer last lines which I so admired (that's how I looked up the links below on Google). I could not find the MFK Fisher story about the Mariachi singer, but it is in the collection given. The last line was something about "all those who have hungered and gone unfed."
Nabokov - First Love
E.B.White - Once More to the Lake
MFK Fisher - The Gastronomical Me
While I am taking digs at Murakami, I may as well mention that I did not like South of the Border, West of the Sun. Same Murakami standards: passive guy in bar, mysterious woman, LPs, but this time around it just annoys.
I write: Since those links are now dead, the Nabokov last line is
I still seem to be holding that wisp of iridescence, not knowing exactly where to fit it, while she runs with her hoop ever faster around me and finally dissolves among the slender shadows cast on the graveled path by the interlaced arches of its low looped fence.
and the White is
As he buckled the swollen belt, suddenly my groin felt the chill of death.
Tom wrote: This reminds me of an anecdote in Maugham's Summing Up about how age somehow can give a sense of increasing time. The example cited is of someone who decides to take up the study of Greek at age 80.
I replied: I used to have a theory that it was always 3:00 p.m., because whenever I looked up from the fray at work, that was the time. Over the years, it has always been 5pm, then 8pm, then 10pm. Recently, I noticed that now when I look up, it's Thursday.
Jan wrote: I agree with you about Murakami's short stories that I've read in the New Yorker. But mainly I wanted to say I love the EB White story, because I love everything he wrote but also because I've spent so much time on lakes in Maine. One of the Belgrade Lakes where he went as a child is behind my brother's house.