(from Harper’s, July 2005)
This is a short story in that it is short and it’s a story. But, it’s not fiction, maybe. Hard to say. Murakami goes to strenuous lengths to convince me, the reader, that it’s him, the author, just shooting the shit on how funny and strange coinkydinks are. But he’s a sneaky one. Likes to mess with heads while coming off all nonchalant. So I don’t know. It’s an interesting read, in any case.
This copy of Harper’s, on loan from Brian Howard, is getting beat up, mainly because the really interesting article on politicized cavemen sits on the center staples and has taken much abuse. Sorry about the poor condition your magazine will be in upon its return to you, BH, but good luck in your big bike race on Saturday. (It’s for MS, donate here.)
Back when Bee and I used to write video game columns together, we liked to start them with the ubiquitous, lazy “Ah” opening, before launching into some obscenity-laced, nigh-intellectual duiloquy on, say, Wacky Races. “Ah, violence” “Ah, progress.” “Ah, premises.”
“Chance Traveler” did not start with with Ah, but the same feeling of an author phoning it in, or pretending to, wafted along the early paragraphs. One day somebody’s gonna stand up at a Murakami reading and say the emperor has no clothes. I’m not saying that person’ll be right, I’m just saying. Ah, complexity.
The Mountain Goats, “This Year”