Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Title: After The Quake
Author: Huraki Murakami
Publisher: Vintage

After The Quake is the most recent book by Japanese author Haruki Murakami. A series of six short stories, all linked loosely by an earthquake. Each story makes passing reference for the most part, one of the characters likely being from the area or knowing someone where the quake happened. As the stories goes on they each get further and further from the actual event, which is to say they are in chronological order.

As I say the references to the earthquake are passing, in all but one story, so the links to each other are a little tenuous and the stories can easily stand as individuals. The narratives tend towards the snapshot form rather than plot form, which is something I am becoming conscious of in literary short stories. This tends to make the pieces brief and to be honest not entirely memorable. We meet a girl who likes to hang out with a man that builds fires. A woman who gets away from her past on holiday, swimming every day. A man who deals with the aftermath of a failed love triangle while lamenting the death of the short story. and a giant frog who will fight the worm who would destroy Tokyo.

The super frog story is actually my favourite of the pieces here, there is a strong sense of the absurd and a definite humour that appeals, with more of an actual plot seeming to come through. The other pieces work well enough at painting their pictures, but overall After The Quake is too short.

August 2003

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