Why I DNFed Almost Transparent Blue by Ryu Murakami

Goodreads Synopsis: Almost Transparent Blue is a brutal tale of lost youth in a Japanese port town close to an American military base. Murakami’s image-intensive narrative paints a portrait of a group of friends locked in a destructive cycle of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. The novel is all but plotless, but the raw and often violent prose takes us on a rollercoaster ride through reality and hallucination, highs and lows, in which the characters and their experiences come vividly to life. Trapped in passivity, they gain neither passion nor pleasure from their adventures. Yet out of the alienation, boredom and underlying rage and grief emerges a strangely quiet and almost equally shocking beauty. Ryu Murakami’s first novel, Almost Transparent Blue won the coveted Akutagawa literary prize and became an instant bestseller. Representing a sharp and conscious turning away from the introspective trend of postwar Japanese literature, it polarized critics and public alike and soon attracted international attention as an alternative view of modern Japan.

overall feelings copy

Before I DNF Almost Transparent Blue, I had high hopes for it. I’ve never read anything by Ryu Murakami. I decided to check out his works because he was recommended to me. In addition, I was curious to see how this Ryu Murakami had a similar style to Haruki Murakami.

Honestly, I tried reading it several times throughout the summer. I couldn’t. It’s 126 pages long and I had to put it down. I wasn’t a fan of the depiction of orgies and drugs. Wow, I couldn’t get over it. I was very squeamish when I was reading. I didn’t even make it half-way through.

devastated ryan gosling.gif

Honestly, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. The synopsis should have been a warning sign, but I decided not to judge the book by the synopsis. Oh, was I wrong. For every single time I tried reading, I never made it past page 40. I couldn’t. I want to take my reading experience back. Almost Transparent Blue is the first book I DNFed this year and you know what, I’m okay with it. There are some books that you can’t mentally push yourself to read. This was the book for me folks. Moral of the story: Don’t do drugs!

This gif perfectly describes my reading experience:

ryan gosling reading.gif

I would not recommend reading Almost Transparent Blue if you’re very sensitive to strong languages and the disgusting depictions of drugs and orgies. Will I pick up Almost Transparent Blue in the future? Give it a second chance? Absolutely not. Even if you bribed me with money, I couldn’t read this book. Never, ever, ever again.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Negative Five Stars)

3 Day, 3 Quote: Haruki Murakami

Hey, and good evening! I forgot to post my quote for yesterday. I was busy with Yallwest and a party, that I forgot to schedule it. Whoops, my bad. I had a lot of fun posting these quotes, and I might try to do it monthly…possibly, I can’t guarantee it yet just yet. And finally, here is the last quote for my Murakami quote challenge.

The Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for three consecutive days
  3. Nominate three new bloggers each day.

Quote:

norwegian wood

(Picture taken by yours truly)

Nominees:

Bibliophile

Tinder Box And Trinket

Reading Every Night

No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai

no longer human

Author: Osamu Dazi

Genre: Japanese Literature

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis: Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human, this leading postwar Japanese writer’s second novel, tells the poignant and fascinating story of a young man who is caught between the breakup of the traditions of a northern Japanese aristocratic family and the impact of Western ideas. In consequence, he feels himself “disqualified from being human” (a literal translation of the Japanese title).

Donald Keene, who translated this and Dazai’s first novel, The Setting Sun, has said of the author’s work: “His world … suggests Chekhov or possibly postwar France, … but there is a Japanese sensibility in the choice and presentation of the material. A Dazai novel is at once immediately intelligible in Western terms and quite unlike any Western book.” His writing is in some ways reminiscent of Rimbaud, while he himself has often been called a forerunner of Yukio Mishima.

overall feelings copy

*I’m not going to deeply analyze No Longer Human, this will be a simple review*

I have a lot of mixed feelings about No Longer Human, it’s been on my bookshelf for several years and the author was recommended to me by a friend. I bought the book and forgot about it. I was unhauling a couple books before I started my April TBR list, and found No Longer Human. I decided to read it.

How can I describe my reading experience? It was not a fun ride. I’m not going to lie, but the book was very dark. It took me a while to finish it because it had mature themes. Depression is not something a person would want to experience. You feel alienated by the world, you feel as if society has gone against you. It’s a troubling state to be in. I’ve been there, and I don’t want to go back. So when I read this book, the feelings that main character experienced really hit home.

No Longer Human is told in three parts. It starts off with Yozo’s childhood. Yozo is the youngest child coming from a wealthy family, and as a young child he realizes that he has to put on a persona in order to please his family. He claims to be a clown in order to be accepted.

As long as I can make them laugh, it doesn’t matter how, I’ll be alright. If I succeed in that, the human beings probably won’t mind it too much if I remain outside their lives. The one thing I must avoid is becoming offensive in their eyes: I shall be nothing, the wind, the sky.

He realizes that at a young age, he is not fit for society. Yozo has no connections with family and has a lack of friends. Everyone around he seems to believe in his facade. He keeps up the clown persona for several years. Yozo is in fact terrified of humans, and constantly is on guard of his feelings. Yozo is an outcast.

As the years go by, Yozo is regarded as intelligent and good looking. From an outsider’s perspective, Yozo would have a promising future. That is not the case. Yozo suffers from a downward spiral. He used to attend school, but lost all motivation for it. His father used to give him allowance money to maintain lifestyle. Yozo is quite wealthy until he meets his “best friend” Hiroki, a city dweller who eventually teaches him the pleasures of life, such as drinking alcohol and sleeping women. Day in and day out, Yozo lives his luxurious lifestyle of drinking and sleeping with women until his father stops his allowance. Yozo is forced to live independently, but Yozo can’t manage to survive on his own.

Yozo has never experienced happiness. He can’t relate with others. Women are always drawn to Yozo because they view him as sensitive, troubled, down on his luck because of his misfortunes and he is also a bit of a bad boy. He uses women to his advantage as a means to survive. He stated that he has only loved one woman, but yet has a difficult time recalling the time he spent with her. Yozo has attempted suicide and has failed. On other hand, the woman he loved was successful in committing suicide by drowning. He wrecks his life, and no one seems to help him. Yozo is an unreliable narrator. There are some instances within this book where it seems that Yozo is finally going to turn his life around, but he sabotages in the end.

Now, I read the english translation of this work. The synopsis has stated that this book deals with the Western influence in Japan, but I saw none of that. This story was more semi-autobiographical than anything else. After finishing the book, I looked up the author’s biography and what happened in his life is very tragic. Osamu Dazai has tried to commit suicide several times throughout his life. After No Longer Human was published, he finally succeeded in committing suicide. As I’ve mentioned before, this book is dark and there were moments when it was sad, but I did not cry. I would recommend reading this book if you are a fan of the manga called Oyasumi Punpun. I wouldn’t recommend reading No Longer Human to a younger audience. There is also an anime, live action, and a manga based on No Longer Human. After reading No Longer Human, I read the manga by Usamaru Furuya (Lychee Light Club) and the manga is only three volumes, so check it out.

Quotes:

  • “Now I have neither happiness nor unhappiness.Everything passes.

    That is the one and only thing that I have thought resembled a truth in the society of human beings where I have dwelled up to now as in a burning hell.

    Everything passes”

  • “People talk of “social outcasts.” The words apparently denote the miserable losers of the world, the vicious ones, but I feel as though I have been a “social outcast” from the moment I was born. If ever I meet someone society has designated as an outcast, I invariably feel affection for him, an emotion which carries me away in melting tenderness.”
  • “I thought, “I want to die. I want to die more than ever before. There’s no chance now of a recovery. No matter what sort of thing I do, no matter what I do, it’s sure to be a failure, just a final coating applied to my shame. That dream of going on bicycles to see a waterfall framed in summer leaves—it was not for the likes of me. All that can happen now is that one foul, humiliating sin will be piled on another, and my sufferings will become only the more acute. I want to die. I must die. Living itself is the source of sin.”

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Book Review: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgramage

I finished reading Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage today. I haven’t read a Murakami novel in the while; the last book I read was The Elephant Vanishes (collection of short stories). His newest novel intrigued me, I kept seeing this book being praised a lot and I thought it was going to be amazing as many said it would be, but I thought it was okay.

Plot: Tsukuru Tazaki, a thirty-six year old man, who feels like an “empty vessel” or a “colorless person” because his group of high school friends (Aka, Shiro, Kuro, and Ao) rejected him sixteen years ago. He tries experiencing death to get over them, but deep down, he misses his perfect group of friends. As a result of being isolated from them, he tries to avoid visiting his hometown and would rather live in lonely in Tokyo. His girlfriend, Sara, convinces him to visit all his friends to seek answers to why he was kicked out of the group of friends and heal his wounds.

The group of friends really seemed perfect in the beginning of the novel, but as I kept reading further on, I discovered that the group itself was crumbling since Tsukuru left Nagoya to study engineering in Tokyo. The group itself was not perfect as Tsukuru believed. I really thought it was his lack of personality that lead to the group rejecting him, but boy was I wrong. Instead, it was all due to a lie that Shiro told her group of friends while Tsukuru had no idea what he did to make his group leave him. I was shocked! I did get really mad to know that the other friends did not try contacting him at all. I was really annoyed. The reason why Tsukuru was not told was because he was the “strongest” of the group to survive without them…I did roll my eyes a bit since the protagonist was pretty bland…anyways, I really liked the chapters where Tsukuru met with his old friends to discover the answers to his questions. Kuro’s chapters had to be the best for me.

I really felt that this book could have been shorter. I felt there was too much repetition in the book. I wished that this book had included more chapters about Tsukuru’s high school days. Mini rant: Tsukuru, I get it, you’re a colorless person…thanks for reminding me for the hundredth time. I didn’t mind the weird erotic dreams and the description of his private parts, I looked past that, but I really was annoyed that the book ended with Tsukuru going to sleep…I just wanted to know if he ended up with Sara or not…Well, I guess it’s one of those book that you, the reader, decides if she accepted his proposal or not.

I give this book a 3.5 out of 5. It was an okay book, but enjoyable.