[SS] Capote and Murakami

March 13, 2010 § 10 Comments

Short Saturday: I join Mee on her journey in search of 5-star quality short stories. It’s all about the journey, she says, not the destination.

It’s been more than a month now since I’ve joined Mee in posting about the short stories we read, and it’s only now that I finally sit down to read the two short stories that Mee has classified as being “five star”. I knew I had to read them soon, and so this week, it finally happens.

First, I read Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory. It’s not only Mee’s favourite short story, I also saw that it’s on Ana‘s list of her favourites as well. And I’ve heard so many good things about Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, anyone?), though this short story is really just my first taste. I read this story online HERE.

A Christmas Memory is narrated by a seven-year-old boy about his memories of Christmas spent with a sixty-something woman – his only friend. They live together, bonded as distant cousins, in a house with other people, but for them, it was almost like just living with each other’s company. His memories of Christmas are those of buying ingredients, making fruitcakes to be sent to strangers, hand-making gifts for each other and getting themselves a christmas tree.

Is it because my friend is shy with everyone except strangers that these strangers, and merest acquaintances, seem to us our truest friends? I think yes.

There’s something in the way the boy talks about their relationship that it made it feel bittersweet, like a gentle smile with a tinge of sadness to it. It felt real and close to the heart. This is a story that has soul.

Rating: 4.5

*

The second of Mee’s five-star stories is Haruki Murakami’s On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning. Being a big big fan of Murakami (as I’m sure I make it quite obvious..), I was really excited that Mee found this particular story good enough to warrant 5 stars. It can be read online at this website HERE, which also adds a slight illustrative dimension to the story, making it quite pretty.

First, isn’t the title just awesome? It’s the type that gives you images of fluttering butterflies even before reading the first word of the story.

It would have started “Once upon a time” and ended “A sad story, don’t you think?”

One of the things that makes this story so beautiful is how simple it actually is. It doesn’t have the weirdness or funky unexplained happenings that usually come with a Murakami story, but at the essence of it, it’s a story that talks straight to your heart. (Which is what, I think, Murakami does very well.) It’s about getting this great chance, one that comes around probably only once in your lifetime, and you completely screw it up, only to realise what a huge idiot you were a second too late. It’s about life.

But still, I know from fifty yards away: She’s the 100% perfect girl for me.The moment I see her, there’s a rumbling in my chest, and my mouth is as dry as a desert.

Again, this is a warm story that has a slight touch of sadness. It’s simple, it’s down-to-earth, it’s real. It’s all there.

Rating: 4.5

* Note: I’m also participating in Tanabata’s Hello Japan! March mini-challenge, which is to read something by Murakami.

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§ 10 Responses to [SS] Capote and Murakami

  • aloi says:

    Great choices and glad you enjoyed them! Both of them are aong my faves!

    I love Capote’s short stories, quite different from In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

    Haven’t been reading Murakami recently and have never heard about this title before. Gonna go look for it 🙂

    • Michelle says:

      This is the first Capote for me, and I’m kind of looking forward to more. His books aren’t readily available at the libraries though, for some reason…

  • mee says:

    Mmm seeing my two most favorite stories, it seems that I like “warm” sad stories, though I would probably deny it if somebody tells me so ;). I agree that Murakami’s story above has absolutely awesome title!

    I haven’t got around to reading shorts again, but I have planned to read Paperback Reader Claire’s favorite short stories (see her sidebar). I have them printed and all because I can’t bring myself to read stories on screen when I’m usually in front of computer at least 9-10 hours a day.

    Anyway I’m glad you loved the two stories. Worth reading, right? Right? 🙂

    • Michelle says:

      It does feel that way, doesn’t it? I rather think you’re quite versatile, you seem to enjoy a huge diversity of books and stories.

      I was just planning to read them too! How awesome is it that we think so alike sometimes? Haha!

      And yes, these two stories were definitely worth reading. Would have been so much more awesome for me if I had a physical book, but still, reading off the screen didn’t take away from them at all. =)

    • Mark David says:

      Yup, Murakami’s 100% Perfect Girl has quite a title. It’s a 5-star story to me 🙂

      • Michelle says:

        It’s 5-star for Mee too. I think reading off the screen just does that to me a little. I’m not a great fan of e-books. The stories themselves were just great, though.

  • gnoegnoe says:

    Just based on the title: do you think it would add to the experience to read Capote’s book around X-Mas time?

    And Murakami’s stories *often* have these great titles!

    • Michelle says:

      Well, I think it works quite well to read it any time during the year, but maybe Christmas time will add to the atmosphere of the story.

      And you’re right, Murakami has a way of naming his stories. They just make you want to read them.

  • tanabata says:

    I love that Murakami story too! I read it a few years ago now but still remember it. And yes, great title!
    BTW, you might want to check out the Hello Japan! March round-up post. 🙂

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