41) After Dark by Murakami Haruki (in the proper Japanese configuration). (originally published in Japan in 2004, this translation published in America 2007, Vintage Books, 244 pages).
A funny thing happened to me over the helter swelter weekend. I ended up at the bookstore on Saturday, and saw that Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union trade paperback edition was on the Buy 1, Get 1 half price. "Cool!" thought I, but since I did not see anything that really spoke to me on the other half of the table, I continued on through the store. Sunday, hntrpyanfar and I went back, and I took another look at the b1g1HO table and found this book... Murakami (which T tells me I pronounce like some slurred variant of "American-commie") is a writer that I have heard much about, so I decided to give this book the first line test, which led to the second line test to the first paragraph to the first page to the next, which ultimately led up to me in the checkout line with Chabon, Murakami and a novel by James Rollins. Of the three (and though I was supposed to be reading the last Queen of the Orcs book or a book for Horror Reader), I finished Murikami-san's After Dark yesterday.
What a book!
It follows a big cast of interesting characters in an "amusement district" of Tokyo through the late night hours after the trains have ceased running. Mari is a college gal that just did not want to go home for the night, choosing to instead participate in and observe this strange, wee hours world; her sister, Eri (much more beautiful than Mari, just ask her folks), is home asleep and the target of a surreal and creepy encounter with an unplugged television and a faceless observer; Takahashi is a trombone player with an interest in foods and good conversation, who decides to sit with Mari and start chatting; Kaoru is the manager of a "love ho," (that'd be a pay-by-the-hour hotel for lovers) with a problem: a Chinese girl has been beaten and robbed, no one can understand her (but for Mari, who is bilingual)... These and more characters fill the pages of After Dark, providing an often insightful, sometimes humorous, regularly beautiful, occasionally eerie, and always fascinating picture of life after the sun has gone down.
Wow, is all I have to say. Just, wow.
Currently Reading: Royal Destiny by Morgan Howell, last book of the Queen of the Orcs trilogy.