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9.25.2014

Brain Food: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage


I feel horrible about the fact that I don't read nearly as much as I used to. Sometimes I have a feeling (it's not even a feeling, it's more of a fact) it has a lot to do with living in LA now and not having as much hands-free, public-transportation, commuting time where I can choose to stuff my face in a book rather than zone out at some other commuter's face or be disturbingly aware of my hot, sweaty, uncomfortable surroundings including someone's armpit two inches from my head.

Nope, LA just doesn't afford you that kind of situation...but maybe I'm just making excuses.

Truthfully, I can make time to read even though I sometimes (as in always) get swallowed up by the oh-I-should-clean-the-apartment-and-run-to-get-toothpaste-and-Merlin-probably-needs-a-walk-oh-look-it's-time-to-make-dinner-wow-I'm-sleepy-time-for-bed hole. (Don't we all?)

But every few years there is a happening. I get a piece of news about a new book by one of my favorite authors and I make an effort to seek out this new tome of dreams and hole myself away for many hours at a time...which is what happened with Haruki Murakami's latest book: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.

Let me start off by saying that I have basically read all of this man's books. I spent many an hour between classes in college at the nearby diner, reading one of his books over coffee, a bagel, and a cigarette (yes, I was in college back when you could smoke in diners.) I started with A Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World and then jumped to The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles...there was Sputnik Sweetheart, Kafka on the Shore, Dance Dance Dance...and so many more. Countless hours of me choosing to be lost in his world of odd happenings, mysterious characters, memories, music...his writing is so beautiful in such a strange way. He's a master of dreamscapes...but much like dreams, his worlds are based in reality and begin skewing ever-so-slightly.

He writes the kinds of books you can't help devouring, but are desperate to slow down because 1) the writing is so rich and luxurious and 2) you never really want the book to come to an end.

The other thing I have to say is that I read this book in less than 48 hours.

I triumphantly found it at the airport bookstore on my way back from Fashion Week, read about a quarter of it on the plane (and would have read more had I not come down with a wicked headache), spent 5 hours reading it the next day and promptly (and sadly) finished it the following day.

So, now that you know that I love this author and I swallow his books like I swallow whole bags of Lays Classic Potato Chips when no one is looking (what, you don't? liar!), are you interested? Maybe I should tell you a smidge about the book, eh?

Our protagonist is Tsukuru Tazaki and this is his story. It's rooted in something very real to everyone: Growing pains from one's youth to adulthood. The main event that he is hyper-focused on? When his closest group of high school friends cuts him off without any warning. The emptiness his friends once filled consumes him and he has to make his way back and find out why, in adulthood, it happened, even if it might seem unnecessary to know after so many years...but it is necessary.

It's a journey that, on the surface, might seem silly, but you come to realize how imperative it is for Tsukuru to figure it all out.

In short, I swear you won't be disappointed. Hope you give it a try and if you're in the neighborhood, feel free to ask to borrow it. I've lent most of my Murakami books to people and have never gotten them back...a lot of them accidentally lend it to someone else. Such is the way of his books. They make for great travel companions.

Are you a Murakami fan? And if so, are there any other authors you suggest? I've been in a reading funk and need some new material. Help!

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