Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman; Haruki Murakami

Author:  Haruki Murakami
Publication Year: 2006
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Edition: audio book
Reader: Patrick Lawlor and Ellen Archer ( good)
Source: Library 
Date Completed: 7/27/2011 
Setting: Japan
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes

I listened to this collection back in July but never wrote a review. Looking over my notes, I thought I'd share my impression.

In true Murakami style, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman is a collection of some (24) short stories which ranges from very real situations to extremely surreal experiences; most of which were well done.  I found the (2) audio book readers appealing, but noticed a few reviewers who listened to the audio version were not fond of the readers presentations.

Some of my favorite stories were -
  • The Birthday Girl - about a 20 year-old woman (The Birthday Girl) working as a waitress in a Tokyo restaurant. The owner, which no one except the manager has ever seen lives upstairs for the restaurant. Every night at 8pm the manager delivers the exact same dinner to the owner.  On this particular night the manager goes home ill, and the waitress must deliver the owner's meal.  What occurs felt magical and left me satisfied.
  • The Rise and Fall of Sharpie Cakes - a recommendation to change the recipe for Sharpie cakes is left for the Company Crows - yes real crows - left to decide which cake they preferred, the new or old recipe.  Left me with a huge smile
Others I Wanted to Mention -
  • Nausea 1979 - What does vomiting and crank calls have in common? In this story a man vomits for 40 days and 40 nights, and then suddenly the calls and vomit stops. - Yes a pretty gross theme for a short story, but so well done it was laughable.
  • Man Eating Cats - from a cat lover, this was probably my least favorite.
Some of the other titles in the collection
  • Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman - good
  • New York Mining Disaster - good
  • Airplane: Or, How He Talked to Himself
  • The Mirror (good)
  • A Folklore for My Generation
  • A Pre-History of Late-Stage Capitalism
  • Hunting Knife
  • A Perfect Day for Kangaroos (fun)
  • Dabchick (very good)
  • A Poor Aunt Story - (very good)
  • The Seventh Man
  • Crab (gross)
  • The Year of Spaghetti
  • Toni Takitari (very good)
As with many of Murakami's stand alone novels, this collection often dealt with stories involving loneliness and isolation. Many of the stories seemed like very normal topics and events, but then they veer off and take a bizarre twist, characteristic of this author's style.  The first person narrative, was frequently used which seemed to work very well for this collection.  I think most Murakami fans will appreciate this collection.


  1. My reading list is getting to be quite a long one, thanks Diane. Just finished reading the new Louis Penny book on the Inspector Gamache series. I have read every one of those books now, can't get enough of them.

  2. I tried one book by Murakami a few years ago, and had a hard time with it. I am wondering if I would feel the same at this juncture, but I know that he is an author that I really want to try again. It seems like everyone loves him, and I don't want to be the only one who doesn't!

  3. I've still only read Norwegian Wood. I need to expand my Murakami reading!

  4. Short stories and usually nice and easy reading!

  5. I've read Murakami's full-length novel, Norwegian Wood, and I recently read a short story a friend e-mailed to me, which was in the New Yorker - The City of Cats - I'm tempted to read more short stories by him, and this collection certainly sounds interesting.

  6. I have placed a hold - for some reason this author intimidates me so I am glad to see some short stories to try first.

  7. I'm hoping to read Murakami's Kafka on the Shore next week. I'm glad that you enjoyed this one, so I'll look for it next.

  8. I just posted today on a short story by Murakami "The Elephant Vanishes"-his short stories are for sure worth reading-I enjoyed reading your post

  9. I've come to enjoy short stories more these days. When life is really hectic, it's easy to read a complete story. This sounds like a collection I would enjoy.

  10. I really wish I could get into audio books, but I simply cannot enjoy them. I may need to try again later.

  11. I am slowly working my way through all of his works. I just finished After The Quake (short stories) and was surprised at how tame the stories were compared to his novels.

  12. The stories sound very unique & well written, but I'm not sure they are for me (could definately not listen to the cat eating story). Great review!

  13. Oh, this sounds good! I don't think I've heard of this collection before. Adding to my list for sure!

  14. I think I heard about Murakami on audio first from you, and he's been on my list since. I really need to choose a book and give it a try! Probably not this one though, as I'm not usually a short story person.

  15. I love short stories and since I've never read this author, I think I should give it a try. Thank you for the review.

  16. This is an author that I want to read for sure. I think these short stories sound pretty good...I'm curious as to what the waitress found when she delivered the dinner!!

  17. I'm not a big short story fan, but I LOVE Murakami's. He weaves so much into each story, you don't feel cheated by the shortness of the story!

  18. The more I hear about this author, the more I think I need to read him.


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