Short Story day 9 – A 32-Year Old Day Tripper

9. – “A 32-Year Old Day Tripper
Haruki Murakami

This is day nine of my Month of Short Stories – a story a day for June.

A very short piece – modern, non-plotted. If you want to get a feel for how important translation is, here’s an alternate translation and here’s another.

I have read quite a bit of Haruki Murakami – I think my favorite so far is his somewhat underappreciated Sputnik Sweetheart. His fiction is odd and slippery, sometimes sweet, sometimes horrific – always unpredictable.

If you are interested in his writing, don’t overlook his non-ficiton. I was impressed with Underground, a collection of interviews in the aftermath of the Aum Shinrikyo gas attack.

Today’s work by Murakami is a set of musings by a 32 year old man that has an eighteen year old semi-girlfriend (they meet one Sunday a month). Murakami began writing at age 29 – about the age of the narrator. Maybe the girl could be looked upon as representing his art – or maybe not.

His story of when he decided to write his first novel is amazing… From SPEIGELIn April 1978, I was watching a baseball game in the Jingu Stadium in Tokyo, the sun was shining, I was drinking a beer. And when Dave Hilton of the Yakult Swallows made a perfect hit, at that instant I knew I was going to write a novel. It was a warm sensation. I can still feel it in my heart. Now I am compensating for the old, open life through my new, closed life. I have never appeared on television, I have never been heard on the radio, I hardly ever give readings, I am extremely reluctant to have my photograph taken, I rarely give interviews. I’m a loner.

There is almost always a connection to music in his work – opera or western popular music. He owned a jazz club during the time he began writing. Like a lot of us (like me) he probably marks time with the music that he was listening to then – and certain songs bring back strong memories.

For example, a certain song and (especially) its video had been rattling around in my head from the 80’s. I remembered bits of it, and couldn’t shake it, but until I stumbled across the band mentioned in a Facebook group on an infamous old Dallas Nightclub (the Starck Club) I couldn’t remember what it was.

Here is the video:

Why has that stuck in my head for all these years?

Anyway… back to today’s story – I think it’s best not to try and overthink fiction like this. It’s best to let it sink in, read it a few times (on this one, read the other translations) and view it as a mood, or a crystal bit of emotion, or a wavy window into a specific time.

It’s actually the boringness of the girls that attracts them. They’re just playing a complicated game, a game they honestly enjoy. A game where they wash their faces with buckets full of the young girls’ boredom water, while they don’t let their lady friends have a single drop.
—-from “A 32-Year Old Day Tripper” by Haruki Murakami