Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Underground Man

That is the title of this week's New York Times Magazine cover story, profiling Haruki Murakami.  If you are looking forward to 1Q84, you owe it to yourself to read this.

I won't totally spoil it for you, but, for starters, the piece doesn't contain any 1Q84 spoilers: it is about the novelist, not about the book.  And while it treads some territory that has been widely covered in the past -- his jazz bar, how he wrote his first novel, the New York marathon -- there is a lot here that is new.  It is, by far, the best piece I have read about what he is like now, as a successful novelist.

Some highlights:
  • Murakami wakes up at 4 AM every day and goes straight to his desk for five to six hours of concentrated writing.
  • His house has a vast office overlooking the mountains, and which also contains his collection of over 10,000 records.
  • He has an office in downtown Tokyo, where multiple stylish young women work as his assistants.
  • He loves ironing.
  • He doesn't remember his dreams, except for a single, recurring nightmare, which is described in the piece.
  • Murakami tourism has exploded: it is now possible, for example, to join a "Kafka on the Shore" tour group.
  • Murakami and the writer go running together, during which Murakami is portrayed as a particularly genial running companion.
Along the way, the writer muses about the "addictive weirdness" of Murakami's body of work, and the various metaphysical boundaries it describes.  

A perfect find in my Sunday morning paper.  

Related posts:
Pointless Acts


  1. This post was so interesting Joel. Thanks for directing me to your blog and for stopping by. Tuesday, this one will download to my Kindle - preordered...LOL


  2. Thanks for dropping by! We actually had a little bit of a discussion going about whether to buy the hardback or read it on Kindle. Here is the post. Anyhow, I look forward to hearing what you think of 1Q84!

  3. Great find Joel! Really looking forward to reading this - a solid preparation step for IQ84.

  4. haven't gotten to the article yet, but i was surprised to say the least to see this in the usual discard that is the NYT magazine.

    will we see 3 separate reviews on rrrs when this one has been quickly consumed by all of us?

  5. I actually think the New York Times Magazine is a great magazine (unlike the magazines associated with most other Sunday newspapers). Give it a second shot sometime. It might surprise you.