A Look At The First 3 Chapters of Murakami’s New Novel, Killing Commendatore

Last Friday, after work, I met my wife at a bar for a drink and cheese. Out of nowhere, she told me she had bought me a book. The new Haruki Murakami novel, though she didn’t know what it was called. She really bought it because it was the only way for her to get a tote bag that she liked which depicts a black cat (like our own black cat) reading a copy of the new book, Killing Commendatore. First, I was thrilled to have the book, and second, my wife loves totes. She probably has about fifteen of them of them. It drives me crazy. “…they’re in my tote,” she tells me when I’m looking for her keys so I can take the car and make a milk run.

My eyebrows raise. “Which tote?”

Things have disappeared. Things have materialized in those totes. Trust me.

See the source imageAnyway, I eagerly sat down with Murakami’s new book and started to read. At first, I was a little put-off. Many of the themes and ideas in this new book are similar to those found in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and while that is one of my favorite books ever, I want to see one of my favorite authors do something new. He did.

I’ve only read the first three chapters (as well as the prologue) because I couldn’t quite tell what Murakami was doing with the chronology of his piece. He has a collection of themes he introduces all of which take place in a different time frame, all in the past, but some more so and some less. I was wondering if there was any kind of rhyme or reason to it. It was clear to me that the narration was leapfrogging through time, then taking a step back, then leapfrogging again. If that sounds confusing, it is. I read chapter 3 last night and then sat down and made a graphic organizer so I could understand what Murakami was doing with time. Here’s a simplified version of what I thought was going on.

Leap frog_ Killing Commendatore

That probably seems confusing. It is, and furthermore, I don’t it’s this systematic. But what I’m trying to get to is that each scene is pushing the story forward, then picking up somewhere in the past, i.e. in between scenes or ideas that you’ve already heard about. Sometimes the narrator even repeats the scene and ideas and some of the same words as the first time you’ve read it.

Below is a table I made to organize my understanding of this book–or at least the first 3 chapters of it, I didn’t even take the prologue into account. I likely will at some point.

COLOR CODED KEY:

Green = Concerning anything the narrator did once he first got to the mountain house.

Brown = Anything about his wife wanting to separate.

Yellow = Anything to do with teaching painting and sleeping with married women.

Light Blue = Anything that came before the immediate story, i.e. flashbacks.

Dark Blue = Anything to do with the narrator trying to escape his own situation.

Red = Anything to do with the narrator leaving his past behind.
Killing CommendatoreAs you can see, the top table is the way this information is presented in the book, the bottom table is the chronology of when and what happens. You may notice that ideas are touched on twice. For instance, the wife tells the narrator she wants a divorce twice, not literally twice, but the narrator tells us twice in vastly different spots in the book. Four sections separate that once instance told twice. More extreme is the fact that he brings up sleeping with two married women who he taught art to in the fourth section, but also in the fifteenth section.

the lack of chronology in this piece makes me think the time isn’t of much import to the narrator, though to the author it was obviously of much importance, as he took a lot of time to mix the timeline up so much.

I’m thinking I will continue this timeline and color-coded method throughout the book. I’m expecting to see a pattern of some kind, but I’ll just have to read on and see.

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Comic Review: Isola, Issue 4

I’ve taken a while to get to this issue, I think because I was really invested in the first 3 issues it was hard to pick up the 4th without having the fifth, which is the end of this original arc of Isola. I hear it will return in January 2019. But, hey, now I’ve gotten to Isola #4, so here’s my take.

(WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD)

See the source imagePicked Up: Issue 3 leaves off on a real cliffhanger. Rook has lost queen Olwyn, as Rook has been captured herself. She escapes the trappers and is led to Queen Olwyn, who has been turned into a tiger. When she finds Olwyn in this spooky spirit place, Olwyn is mostly human again, though with a tiger head. She only speaks one word. “Murderer.”

Flashback: As one might expect from the ending of issue 3, much of #4 is a flashback. We get to see who Rook killed that would cause Olwyn to call her lover a murderer. However, we also learn why Rook would have done something like this. We also see how Olwyn is turned into a tiger, though we are still unsure why–the motive.

Monsters: One of my favorite parts of this comic are the monsters. From issue one, it’s made clear that this world is one of giant beasts and crazy creatures. There is an intriguing type of person in this comic as well, crossed between animal and human, some people are bear/human hybrids, others are wolf/human hybrids. I expect this to be more explained and explored in future issues, as they certainly raise some questions about why and what they are as they seem to have some spiritual rituals around these beast-people.

Conclusion: This continues to be one of my favorite comics. I’ll likely finish off the first run tomorrow, so will bring you my thoughts on issue 5, but knowing I’ll have to wait until January for subsequent issues is a bummer.

Rip Us Apart, to appear in Speculative City: Issue 3

I know it’s been some days since I’ve posted. Sorry. I’ll get back to comics and books and all that stuff in a bit. I’ve been in a bit of a funk.

Luckily, the funk was interrupted a day or so ago by an acceptance letter I got from Speculative City, a spec-fic ezine. It is a new ezine, biannual publication, and has just been around for about a year. My piece, Rip Us Apart, will be included in issue 3.

Speculative City is a magazine dedicated to urban areas and concepts. Stories that take

 

place in the unseen parts of the cities we all inhabit–whether permanently, or just in passing. Each issue is themed and the artwork is really awesome. It’s clean without being pretentious, genre without being cheesy, and a passion project for editors Meera Velu and Devon Montgomery. I say it’s a passion project due to the fact that is is a 2 person staff–just them, and they actually pay everyone who is published, not a lot, but something. And that likely comes out of the editors’ pockets. That’s commitment. And this makes me want to support them. So here’s my plug for them. Become a patron of Speculative City on Patreon. They aren’t asking for much, but their goal is to be able to pay authors a fair price for their pieces. Their ambitions, thus far, are small, but I believe they will grow if given the funds. So click here to help out these fine folks.

 

From the Speculative City Patreon:

Speculative City is a bi-annual magazine featuring literary works that explore themes, characters, and landscapes exclusive to urban environments.

Each issue of Speculative City strives to push the boundaries of a particular theme, as well as highlight voices often unheard in genre fiction. Such voices may, for example, belong to people of color, queer people, working-class people, and people with disabilities.