Dear Mr. Murakami,
the first time we met, I was very angry at you. I had just finished reading the Wind-up Bird Chronicle, which I had received as a Christmas gift. I’m a slow reader in English, but a mysterious force pushed me to go through the 607 pages of the Vintage International paperback edition like a maniac, turning page after page as if a gang of rabid dogs were chasing me, making me forget about my family, my work, and the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. And here I find myself, on the last page, out of breath, exhausted, sweat on my forehead and eyebrows. I’m puzzled. I look for the missing pages. Where are the answers to all my questions? What about of all those lose ends that I hoped to see neatly tied up?
“Who do you think you are, Mr. Murakami?” I cry. “What am I supposed to do now? Chase you in Tokyo to ask you what happened?” (I’m not the only one to feel this way, Mr. Murakami) This is it, I tell myself. The end. No more Murakami. Ever.
A couple of years later, my sister read Dance Dance Dance, and fell in love with your books. She even created a website for you. Then one day, I walked in a bookstore, I saw Dance Dance Dance, and I bought a copy. It was winter; a cold, dark, rainy, and unforgiving New York winter day. I found myself reading the book and sipping hot black tea in a coffee shop in the West Village. The handsome young man sitting at the next tiny table noticed the book and said: “I read all Murakami’s books. Dance Dance Dance was the last one. It’s different from the others, almost hopeful.”
I had my laptop with me and I showed him the site that my sister had created for you. He smiled. “It’s fate,” he said. “You had to read this book.”
“People fall hopelessly in love with you, Mr. Murakami,” I thought. They don’t just read your books, they spend hours and hours with you. There is something in the atmosphere you conjure in your books that captures us and keeps us prisoners. There is something in your characters that we want to keep with us. We love their company.
The truth is, we love your company. When we are reading your books you take care of us. You cook for us and make sure we are never hungry or thirsty. You create soundtracks for us to listens. You clean up and prepare our space. And you surround us with an irresistible sense of longing—the sweetest, saddest feeling of all, the feeling that most closely resemble devastating love.
I’ve just finished reading Kafka on the Shore and I’m experiencing the Murakami’s after-effect: a languid, slightly sad feeling that follows me everywhere. I can’t read any other book, because I’m still trapped in the Murakami experience. Beauty, nature, art, cats, people with half shadows, and the pleasure of reading. You held my hand and brought me in your world, a world that I would have never visited without you. Your world is sometimes frightening and unsettling, but you reassured me: “I’m with you, I’m not going to leave you alone. Trust me, follow me, and I’ll take care of you. You won’t regret the experience.”
There are some authors we just want to spent time with. We forgive them for their shortcomings, we let them get away with things we wouldn’t bear in others. There is something about the quality of their presence we crave for.
This is what I feel for you, Mr. Murakami. You have your faults. You create characters you don’t love enough and abandon them (but the ones you love, you love deeply). You start stories and plots, then forget about them. You drag your stories too long.
But, really, it doesn’t matter. Reading your books is like listening to music. Sometimes it’s not about the lyrics and it’s not about the melody; it’s about the mood that it triggers in us. We want to stop reading anything else, experiencing anything else, to hold on to that feeling. Because we feel that in all our loneliness and separateness, we are all inextricably connected.