Thursday, May 17, 2007

After Dark with Murakami

Our viewpoint is from above, like a camera, our vision pans down to the rectangular structure lying upon the highly polished veneered tabletop, the subtly coloured dustwrapper of the book intrigues our eyes as the light from the window glints off the lettering, H a r u k i M u r a k a m i. Our left hand--or our right--reaches out and lifts the book closer to our vision and we see the title of the book is called: a f t e r d a r k; these letters are artificially superimposed on an image of thin vertical blinds over a photograph of what appears to be an urban night scene. We turn it over and scan the blurbs of acclaim for the author's Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: 24 Stories, and our eyes rest upon the bottom edge of the dustwrapper where the image of colourful Japanese drink bottles nestle against one another, like bottles nestling against one other. We open the rear board and the photograph of the author instills us with a sense of anxiety, his expression is one of distant perplexity. We look down and see that Chip Kidd was responsible for the jacket photography and design. We nod. Our eyes notice the small print near the author's photo and we zoom in to see that it is not Jerry Bauer but Elena Siebert, photographer. We nod again.

Slipping the dustwrapper off the hardcover, our eyes widen with the colours displayed: pink on the spine, purple on the boards, with special ribbed paper for both. Spine title in gilt stamp. Our vision blurs as our hands feel the tactile qualities of the ribbed paper covered boards, the ribs echoing the vertical blinds of the cover image in a nuanced dance of sight and touch.

Opening the book to the title page our vision takes in the typeface used for the title and author, something modern, something different; a resemblance to a stamped name, a stamped title. Then, a fleeting image in our imaginations comes up, of a vast floor of workers, each sitting at a desk, each stamping books on title pages, the sound, a loud musical counterpoint to the unheard rhythms of their hearts. . . .

We turn to the first page and observe a stylised image of a clock showing just before midnight. We hear an old Pet Shop Boys song on the radio, in the distance. Our eyes scan down and we begin to read:

"Eyes mark the shape of the city. . . ."

-for a review of Murakami's After Dark, millions has an interesting one, or perhaps this review at Christian Science Monitor or here at the L. A. newspaper.

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