Two years ago, Haruki Murakami called out to me from every corner of New York City. I spent a lot of time wandering Manhattan and Brooklyn picking up used books from guys who set up tables selling their entire libraries. Treasures and trash. Forlorn novels tossed out of tenement windows, pages yellowed and fused. I lugged my growing backpack of books into subways and bars and cafes. Everywhere I went strangers came up to me and whispered Murakami. Then they vanished.
Eventually I took the hint. I picked up a copy of the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, payed full price and everything. I walked and read. Strange things happen to you when you read Murakami. You find that you're in Tokyo. You find that you are routed in the real world of skyscrapers and trains. You look for your missing cat. You drink beer. You meet a lot of strangers who seem to understand you better than you do yourself. You shrug it off and delve into japanese history, take longer walks. Cats begin to speak. Your sex-life gets very, very interesting. The stories in the news directly effect you. Violence knocks at your door. Mysteries grab your arms and pull. Ghosts appear. Eventually you come to grips with the fact that the place you are in can by no standard definition be called reality.
The way I got into Murakami was something perhaps only Murakami would write. I'm very glad I got into his world. It is stunning, shocking, lovely and haunting.
I recommend Kafka on the Shore for starters, though, you really can't go wrong.