Viola asked: In this interview translator Jay Rubin says there is a Murakami recipe book :) Do you know if this is true and where we can find this?
There is indeed such a book titled 『村上レシピ』 which literally translates to “Murakami Recipe”. It’s a compilation of recipes taken from various Murakami books, put together by Japanese chefs, photographers, illustrators and psychologists. It’s available on Amazon.co.jp - in Japanese, of course.
The idea of a Twitter Installation piece sounds absurd, but then you see Cory Arcangel’s @WrknOnMyNovel, and there’s no other way to describe art installed in 140 character increments.
Initially, there’s something comic about this feed, which consists of retweets of people who are drinking white wine or are listening to Coldplay and are working on their novel. But over the course of the feed, the piece doubles back. There are very few people who can say they’re working on their novel with a firm basis in reality. But these hobby novelists press on. The feed reminds me of the recent Onion piece, “Find The Thing You’re Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights And Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life.“
It’s too bad there’s something ironic about following the instructions we were given in fifth grade about pursuing our dreams. And yet, there’s also something inspiring about people who are writing despite the odds. For most writers, the only way to get anything done is to follow the Onion’s advice and “Do what you love…in between work commitments, and family commitments, and commitments that tend to pop up and take immediate precedence over doing the thing you love.”
Obviously, tweeting is easier than developing fully formed characters and a narrative arc. And so is blogging. So I should get back to my novel, or in my case, my short story.
It was during the 2008 election, and I ran into Barack Obama at a pizza parlor in Chicago. We talked about the campaign a bit, and then Barack said, “I’m sorry, we’ve been talking about me this whole time. How are you doing? How are things going with XX [my then boyfriend]?” It was so nice of him to ask!
Related: Dream On
Matilda was published in 1988.
I just found this out yesterday, reading a boring article I don’t endorse.
I find this shocking. Matilda was such a standard of my childhood, but it didn’t come out until I was 5. It’s kind of amazing to think of my parents reading the New York Times Book Review children’s books issue, and being like, “oh, a new one from Roald Dahl,” and then going to a bookstore and buying it. I knew my parents didn’t grow up reading Dahl the way I did, but I had always lumped him with the classics. I thought his popularity had long been decided on, and was not a choice made by consumers. I actually own a hardcover of Matilda, which I had assumed was just some special edition, but was probably purchased soon after its American release.
As an aside: Roald Dahl: kind of the best. If you don’t have young children in your life, check out his adult short fiction, much of which was published in Playboy. His adult stories are macabre and fun, just like how you would imagine Matilda to grow up to be.
There was a Budweiser commercial during the Super Bowl, you know, the one about a horse, that reminded me of a Maile Meloy story about a colt. The story isn’t really about the colt, but his birth into freezing weather and his inevitable death structure the piece. “Kite Whistler Aquamarine” is really about a lawyer with bad allergies who is married to a hobby rancher who should stick to his day job.
As moments go, Maile Meloy is maybe the best there is at capturing them. Her stories don’t fit into a sentence. They’re about that moment when a character’s life, their choices, their regrets, and their failures come into focus.
Something generally about novels versus short stories: a novel is inherently more of a narrative, about a beginning, middle, and end, about a character who changes, or doesn’t change, in some fundamental way. A short story does not have that hubris; a short story is about a time in a character’s life, not when something necessarily changes, but when something true emerges.
If you like short stories, you should be reading Maile Meloy. And side note, my favorite piece of trivia is that her brother is Colin Meloy of the Decemberists.
Other things I enjoyed this week were the Passion Pit performance on Tiny Desk Concert, the Slate Culture gabfest on Steve Jobs, and the sun setting later. I can’t link to the earth’s orbit, but the clocks are going to spring forward in less than three weeks, which means darker mornings and brighter nights. Mostly, it means the feeling of warm evening air on the backside of your arms is coming soon.
Weekly Endorsement: Best-Selling Author Curtis Sittenfeld Introduced (Roasted!) by Little Brother PG Sittenfeld
I’ve been obsessed with Curtis Sittenfeld since I read Prep in 2007. Because of the initial, largely female driven success of that novel, Sittenfeld has been sometimes relegated to chick-lit. She’s not chick-lit; she just writes about the undesired woman. (And sometimes fan-fic about the First Lady.) Any time I see one of her books in someone’s home, I’m optimistic about a new friendship.
But my fandom has led to some questionable action: years ago, when the fact that two people were on Facebook was somewhat of a coincidence, I befriended Sittenfeld’s little brother, P.G. Though this remains weird, I really enjoy being P.G.’s Facebook friend. He’s a City Councilman in Cincinnati and has more civic pride than anyone I know, online or off.
Yesterday, he posted a video of himself introducing his sister at a reading at their old school. His speech was equal parts sentimental and jabbing. When Curtis came out, she made some jokes about P.G. having 1.5 suits, and also made reference to getting Skyline chili with her dad, which calls to mind an old segment of This American Life.
There’s something humanizing about this video. Here we have a New York Times best selling author having an annoying but lovable little brother and talking about sleeping at her parents’ house and forgetting how to use their shower. It’s a reminder that creative people are still people.
Other things I liked this week:
- Zadie Smith’s Q&A about her recent short story, The Embassy of Cambodia.
- Satisfaction Not Guaranteed: Reading Lance Armstrong by Ian Crouch.
- Plugging In, Dutch Put Electric Cars to the Test, Elisabeth Rosenthal.