Murakami's Writing Style

"He wrote "Kafka" in six months, starting, as he usually does, without a plan. He spent one year revising it. He follows a strict regimen. Going to bed around 9 p.m. - he never dreams, he said - he wakes up without an alarm clock around 4 a.m. He immediately turns on his Macintosh and writes until 11 a.m., producing every day 4,000 characters, or the equivalent of two to three pages in English.

He said that his wife has told him that his personality changes when he is writing his first draft, and that he becomes difficult, nontalkative, tense and forgetful.

"I write the same amount every day without any day off," he said. "I absolutely never look back and go forward. I hear Hemingway was like that."

Unlike Hemingway, Mr. Murakami leads a healthy lifestyle. In the afternoons, to build up his stamina to keep writing, he works out for one or two hours. Whenever he is in Tokyo, he also visits old-record stores, especially ones in the youth mecca of Shibuya, which appears to be the unnamed setting of "After Dark," published last fall to relatively little attention here."

DIARIES OF COURT LADIES OF OLD JAPAN

"I WAS brought up in a distant province 1 which lies farther than the farthest end of the Eastern Road. I am ashamed to think that inhabitants of the Royal City will think me an uncultured girl.

Somehow I came to know that there are such things as romances in the world and wished to read them. When there was nothing to do by day or at night, one tale or another was told me by my elder sister or stepmother, and I heard several chapters about the shining Prince Genji. 2 My longing for such stories increased, but how could they recite them all from memory? I became very restless and got an image of Yakushi Buddha 3 made as large as myself. When I was alone I washed my hands and went secretly before the altar and prayed to him with all my life, bowing my head down to the floor. "Please [Page 4] let me go to the Royal City. There I can find many tales. Let me read all of them."

When thirteen years old, I was taken to the Royal City. On the third of the Long-moon month, 1 I removed [from my house] to Imataté, the old house where I had played as a child being broken up. At sunset in the foggy twilight, just as I was getting into the palanquin, I thought of the Buddha before which I had gone secretly to pray–I was sorry and secretly shed tears to leave him behind. "

The Sarashina Diary

DIARIES OF COURT LADIES OF OLD JAPAN

The Polysyllabic Spree

"If you love to read, or like to read, or you're in that vast category of those wishing for more time to read, here is a book that will have you saying "yes" and "so true," or just have you smiling in knowing amusement at most pages. "The Polysyllabic Spree," (yes, it's a takeoff on "The Polyphonic Spree") is a collection of English writer Nick Hornby's recent "Stuff I've Been Reading" monthly columns for The Believer magazine, whose stated mission is to be an "amiable yet rigorous forum for writing about books."

Fans of Hornby know him for books such as "About a Boy" and "High Fidelity" (and movies of the same names). Fans also know that being persistently amiable is not his style. Which, of course, makes his writing very entertaining.

This is not a collection of book reviews, but a reading diary of sharp and thoughtful musings on literature that ultimately asks: Why do we read, anyway?"

The Polysyllabic Spree: A Hilarious and True Account of One Man’s Struggle With the Monthly Tide of the Books He’s Bought and the Books He’s Been Meaning to Read, By Nick Hornby, Believer Books 230 pp., $14

 
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