Book Club!

Aaron David

A fourth generation Californian, befuddled.

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6 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    The main thing that the book is making me meditate upon is the whole “finding yourself” thing that happens in college. I suppose that I have “found” myself and so it’s easy for me to say this but, jeez, why in the heck did we put so much energy into “finding” ourselves?

    Absolutely exhausting.Report

    • aaron david in reply to Jaybird says:

      That is a very interesting take, not one I had thought of. For me, it is the juxtaposition of pre and post war Japan in my head. Maybe having seen to many Kurasawa epics or Shogun, but Murakami doesn’t provide a Japan that fits neatly into any preconceived ideas I had about the culture. It is so westernized, so “now”, for lack of a better word. How did that happen? Also, that feeling a emotions being ground up and overwhelming everything is so present.Report

  2. Saul Degraw says:

    I have read the book many times. What is interesting to me is that it manages to convey the turmoil of the 1960s in a very understated way. Maybe I am missing things because it is set in Japan but American coming of age stories set in the 1960s always have the characters hit so many damn highlights. They went to civil rights protests and Vietnam war protests and Woodstock type events, etc. Always at the most happening place at the right time.

    Our characters are on the periphery of all that. Watanabe is aware of all the stuff going on but he does not participate. The book focuses more on emotional turmoil.Report

    • aaron david in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      There is a part of chapter four, where the state has put a kibosh on the “rebels”, Toru takes a slight stand and refuses to answer roll call in class. Now, that is getting a little ahead of our reading assignment, but I think it really undercuts the retcon that has gone on about the events of the student rebellion and the part it has played in popular culture from that era. I have an acquaintance from high school who’s mom said she went to Woodstock, but no one else has ever really mentioned anything like that otherwise. There are a couple books on it, Kurlansky’s 1968 Paco Ignacio Taibo’s ’68, etc. And there was the Weather Underground, Foucault did ride around Paris describing the actions and taking part. But I have gotten the feeling that much of the popular memory is exaggerated, at least in the US. And from reading this, I am guessing in Japan as well. But, that is just a guess and I would be interested in more information.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to aaron david says:

        For all we know it is our lack of knowledge of Japanese society in the 1960s. Maybe there are Japanese boomers groaning about that.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          There was something of a student/hippie movement in Japan but it was not as big as the student/hippie movement elsewhere because Japanese boomers didn’t exactly have the same motivation and Japanese society tends towards apolitical thought. The Japanese Red Army was a thing and even engaged in terrorist attacks against Israel though.Report