“Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” by Haruki Murakami
It’s been almost a year since I’ve been coming across Murakami’s name round the book bloggosphere. I’ve only ever read raving good reviews about him and I finally decided I didn’t what to be left behind on a good thing. So when I discovered the site I order my books from, had a short story collection by Haruki Murakami, I decided to go for it. Admittedly, I have only just begun reading it, with only one story down so far. However, this short story was very interesting.
First of all, I want to mention how much I’ve enjoyed reading this writer’s style (kudos to the translator – Philip Gabreil!). The imagery is so vibrant and unique, and this experience, with just one short story, has been incredible.
I cannot say that I have completely understood the significance of “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman”. There seem to be two stories going on…or perhaps, three. There is the immediate present where the narrator is taking is kid cousin to the doctor. This cousin has a hearing problem where, sometimes, he just can’t hear a thing. Doctors have been puzzling over his issue, and this boy, in question, has become quite resigned to his fate. The second story is a memory – a memory of the narrator as he remembers his best friend from high school, and this friend’s girl friend who was in hospital for a minor surgery. The signs point to the fact that she dies (sorry if you think this is a spoiler, but I’m not sure it really is one), but it isn’t very clear how. At least, I haven’t been able to understand it. A simple, minor surgery gone wrong? There is mention of some melted chocolate that the narrator feels very bad about, but again, I’m not able to understand its significance.
Then comes the myth – the story of blind willows and a sleeping woman. The story is very interesting, apparently made up by this friend’s girlfriend. I cannot help but feel that so much is going on between the lines. There is a lot of intertwining between the three stories; between the young cousin, the young woman, and the sleeping woman. Could it be possible that, at some point, present and past, they were all dying and no one could help them?
I have so many questions! I intend reading it again to see if I can glean something more from it. But, oh! I simply enjoyed the read!