Happy birthday Haruki Murakami, and the year so far…

Today is Haruki Murakami’s 65th birthday. Happy birthday, sir. I discovered Murakami the same way I discovered Kafka – via MTV. There was an MTV spot called ‘An A to Z of Japan’, and the letter M was, ‘Haruki Murakami, Japan’s coolest writer’, or something like that. I Googled him and read about his books, and the plots appealed to my love of the kooky so I got hold of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and I fell in love with that man’s mind.

I feel so at home in Murakami’s books. They’re simultaneously comforting and alien and familiar. Boy I wish I could read them in the original Japanese. I’d love to see what his translators bring to the experience and what his unfiltered voice is like.

One day, Universe, please conspire to allow me to meet Haruki, but not in a situation where we’d both have on our formal, public masks, and I’d be all…like…oh yes I’m a such a big fan and did you have a good flight and did they put you up in a lovely hotel…but in a situation more like, say, where I find one of the cats he’s always losing, and I take it to his house and he’s so happy and he’s cooking spaghetti (like he does) and he invites me in and we sit on bean bags in his living room and he plays the best music on his turntable and he says, hah, I like to wear odd socks too, and I say, in my house, we believe it’s good luck to wear odd socks, and he says he too believes we can change our destinies with small decisions like that, in fact, he says, that’s probably the only way we can; and then the phone rings and it’s an old school friend he hasn’t heard from in ages and the friend only has a moment to speak and in that moment the friend says he’s in trouble and Haruki is the only one who can help, and Haruki hangs up the phone and looks at it for the longest time massaging his chin, and I say, I have a car, I could drive you, and we begin our surreal adventure.

Haruki Murakami’s new novel, Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, comes out in the UK in October 2014. Can’t wait.

The year so far…

• I’ve been on social media hibernation for the last month or so. I get pretty antisocial over the Christmas holidays and go out as little as possible – physically or virtually. I’ve been hanging out with my boys and watching lots of kids’ movies with them (the classic Bedknobs and Broomsticks today, which I love. Do you know it? There’s a great scene in Portobello Road – I worked there for a couple of years in the late-nineties and was disappointed that it wasn’t like this at all).

• I’ve been reading a lot of graphic novels (I finally got round to reading Art Spiegelman’s Maus, which was incredible – instantly leaping straight into my top 20 books of all time; and I just started reading Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan, for which, like Building Stories, I am having to use my big magnifying glass that I bought specially – do you know, when I  started reading Building Stories last year and struggled so much with the minuscule point size of the text, I actually made an appointment at the opticians and got my eyes checked, and he said they were better than average. Better. So it’s not my eyes. Oh for a large print version. It’s worth the strain though – he’s brilliant.

• And of course I’ve been writing because that never stops for anything. This week, I hit my 90k word target for my novel-in-progress, but have only covered about two-thirds of the story so far (I think – I’m not writing it chronologically, but in a chaotic, bouncing around process I’ve not done before but which feels right). This is a good thing though. It means when this draft is complete I can be brutal with the editing and still have something novel-shaped at the end of it. The editing is my favourite part. First drafts are about climbing the mountain, the subsequent drafts are about sledging down the other side chopping the heads off all the flowers with a samurai sword. The pleasure.

Anyway, a belated Happy New Year to you. I wish you all good things in 2014.

PS. I’ve been invited to read and chat at a couple of events over the next few months – I’ll post information on here once I have all the details. Over and out.

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