An inconvenient drewth

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Feb
09

Posted on Saturday February 09, 2013 at 10:14am in ,

I’ve been a fan of Haruki Murakami ever since I read my first book by him, Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. After that, the next several books I read by him were all top notch and I loved them all. In fact I wrote about several of them: Norwegian Wood and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle being two of my other favorites. I enjoyed Murakami so much I even translated one of his stories into English: All of God’s Children Dance. However, lately I’ve read many other of his books and found nothing special about them. Nothing to write about anyway. I thought maybe I was getting bored with Murakami or recognizing his “formula.” None of them really struck me like Wonderland or Wind-up Bird. I found them to be very forgettable. I’m happy to say that South of the Border, West of the Sun was different. It was short, beautiful, and sad. I finished it in just two days because it was such a short read. I think the best stories are short.

Not many books change how you feel after you finish them. The last few chapters of South of the Border, West of the Sun are so profoundly depressing, though, that it changed my mood completely. I love tragedies and I love sad stories. I think this book can’t be called a tragedy, but it is definitely a “sad story.” If you also like sad stories, or are looking to get into Murakami, then I recommend South of the Border, West of the Sun entirely. Norwegian Wood would also be a good nomination. If you are looking for a Murakami book to read and enjoy more supernatural stories then I would have to recommend Wonderland or Wind-up Bird.

I’m glad I have more time to read books lately. I’ve already managed to get through four books now since I finished school last month. Which is good, because I have a huge pile of books waiting to be read.

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Feb
16

Posted on Thursday February 16, 2012 at 8:22pm in

Free Food for Millionaires

For my novels class we have to read a lot of books. The one we recently read was called Free Food for Millionaires, a debut novel by Min Jin Lee. It was a pretty interesting book, but a little soap-opera like. The book follows Casey Han, a Korean-American, over the course of five years in New York City from 1993 to 1998. She is the main character of the book, but the story is also told through many other characters who she comes in contact with. I think Casey makes a lot of irrational decisions and it can be a frustrating read sometimes because of how foolish she acts. Then again, I guess everyone makes irrational decisions in life and perhaps that is what the author wanted to say.

This book is mostly about relationships. It has a lot of drama and a lot of very well developed characters with complicated back stories, but the “actual” plot could be explained in a few pages. This book is mostly about characters and their day-to-day lives.

The characters are deep and interesting. However, the characters seem to always be able to perfectly articulate whatever is on their mind to each other, which – while adds to the drama – seems unrealistic. I don’t think I’ve read a book with more sobbing females. Someone cries every 10 pages (I doubt that’s an exaggeration). I did enjoy this book, I thought there were a lot of interesting moments. I really enjoyed that Lee gives the reader perspective from all sides of the story. Each character has their own thoughts and she always gives the reader a window into them. I do recommend this book, I just think that the conversations between characters are unrealistic and over-emotional. Despite that flaw, the writing is very good. It’s hard to believe it’s a debut novel.

If character-driven stories and drama are something you’re into then you’d probably enjoy Free Food for Millionaires.

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Aug
11

Posted on Thursday August 11, 2011 at 2:17pm in

Sputnik Sweetheart

I got this book for Christmas two years ago and have just not gotten around to reading it until now. I’ve had a lot of books to read first, and I’ve been busy. Unfortunately, none of the books I’ve read since Confessions of a Yakuza I’ve felt like writing anything about. Sputnik Sweetheart is a simple story (for a Murakami book, anyway), yet one of the most worthwhile books I’ve read. I read the book from the halfway point straight through to the end last night. It is one of the most moving stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading.

Sputnik Sweetheart is, as you can assume from the title, a love story. Being a Murakami book, it’s not as simple as just a love story. At its core it’s a love triange story between the narrator and two other people, none of whom love the ones that love them in return. The real story begins when the narrator’s love disappears “like smoke,” no where to be found. So begins a great search for his missing lover, adding an element of mystery.

This was a compelling novel, fairly short, and a great read. While the story is satisfying it has a very depressing and emotional second half. Murakami creates a crushing loneliness, comparing these lovers to lonely satellites in orbit – sad pieces of metal never to cross each others paths.

This is a great book, I recommend it.

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Oct
08

Posted on Friday October 08, 2010 at 9:04pm in ,

Last weekend was homecoming weekend. I realize it is already the next weekend, but I’ve been busy and haven’t been able to write anything yet. This year’s homecoming was extra good because both Chris and Larry came over from out of town to celebrate. The first celebration was going to see Mike’s concert. His band, Incriminating Silence was playing at Xorn Arena.

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Mike on bass.

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The whole band.

Later on, during the after-party we celebrated at Shanghai Bistro.

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Shanghai after-hours.

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Bryan pouring some beer.

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Margarita.

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Larry’s specialty drink: ginger mojito with self-made ginger vodka.

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Mike and Olivia.

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That’s the candle lighter I’m holding.

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Everyone fit in for a group photo.

The next day, the group started off with morning drinking at the Pioneer Tavern. I was at guitar lessons so I met up with them as they were just finishing. I gave them a ride back to the room.

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Chris took this from the backseat of my car.

For lunch we decided we wanted to go to Court’n House which allegedly has the best burgers in Eau Claire according to Volume One polls. We wanted to try it out, but thanks to Homecoming weekend they were carding everyone in the bar before we could order and we had minors in our party. So, we had to find some place else to eat. Within walking distance was Galloway Grille, a place that Bryan and I really like.

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Galloway Grille.

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Unfortunately for us, even though it wasn’t crowded at all, it was a pretty disappointing experience. The service wasn’t very good and the food also left much to be desired. It was disappointing to be disappointed by a restaurant I like, but I guess these things happen. No one in our group was fond of it.

The rest of the weekend I mostly spent working on homework so that was all the fun I had. It was a great homecoming weekend though, especially with Chris and Larry in town. Unfortunately though, Larry never came to lunch with us so I only got to see him one day.

Lastly, I finished a book this week…

Homecoming

Confessions of a Yakuza. This is a very interesting true story of the life of a Yakuza (the Japanese mafia) boss. The man grew up in the early 1900’s so there’s a lot of first-hand Japanese history. He had quite an eventful life. The book starts from his childhood and how things began to go wrong for him, how he began to get involved in the Yakuza, and then lastly his ascension to the higher ranks. It was a great read. You don’t have to be interested in Yakuza or Japanese History to enjoy this book. I recommend it!

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Sep
14

Posted on Tuesday September 14, 2010 at 11:12pm in ,

This semester I am taking a photography class! As part of the class, we receive a Canon Rebel XTI DSLR camera. It’s a very fun camera to shoot with and I’m learning a lot so far. Today’s post will mainly be of various photos I’ve taken around Eau Claire this last week. First off, let’s take a look at the camera I received:

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New Camera.

One of the first pictures I took was of my room.

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Sleeping area.

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Katie and Tristian.

My first assignment for Photography was a scavenger hunt. We had to find 25 different things around the city… here are a couple of good ones I found.

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The bird museum.

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Putnam Trail.

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Students. Found Kyoko and Brittney!

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Big Wheel-barrel.

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A Barbecue.

This was part of Super Camp Party, a party held by old friend’s from work.

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Zack. Wearing Sara’s undergarments.

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A quiet dog.

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Cooking.

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Sprocket.

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Bryan took this and it turned out pretty well.

The next ones are from Sunday:

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Racy’s.

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Gabby working at Holiday.

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On the footbridge.

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View across the river.

Well, that’s the end of the photography for now. In the meantime, I’ve been reading another book… Underground by Haruki Murakami. Yes, I’ve been reading a lot of Murakami lately. I just finished this one yesterday.

Underground

This is Murakami’s only nonfiction book. It’s about the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway lines in 1995. For the book, Murakmi interviewed over 60 different people involved in the attack in some way and got their side of the story. There were a lot of interesting perspectives and a lot of sad ones as well. It was all done interview style with a few pages of Murakami’s overall thoughts on things. I would recommend this if you want to know more about one of the biggest terrorist attacks in Japan and the peoples’ response to it.

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