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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
In a simple, unpretentious, and totally accessible style, Murakami tells six tales, each with a message about life and death and love and loss. Simple, straightforward stories, haunting and hypnotic in tone, belie a complexity of themes and thought-provoking observations about the importance of creating your own identity, building relationships, sharing, and avoiding the emptiness of the bogeyman's box, "ready for everybody...[and] waiting with the lid open."
All the main characters are single or separated, and all feel isolated and empty, naïve in matters of love and life. In "UFO in Kashiro," an abandoned husband agrees to help a friend by delivering a box to Hokkaido, only to discover that the box "contains the something that was inside you. You'll never get it back." In "Landscape in Flatiron," a 40-ish artist and a young girl meet and build a bonfire. "The fire itself has to be free," he remarks, while the young girl comments on the emptiness of her life, and they make plans for the rest of the evening. In "All God's Children Can Dance," a young man pursues the man he believes to be his father to an abandoned baseball field, "chasing the tail of the darkness inside [him]." "Thailand" features a doctor in her 40's who is told that she must get rid of the stone inside her and that "living and dying are, in a sense, of equal value."
In the last two stories, "Superfrog Saves Tokyo," and "Honey Pie," Murakami begins to offer more hope and direction to his characters. Superfrog, a 6' tall frog who needs a plodding banker to help him fight the Worm and save Tokyo from an earthquake, due to strike soon, teaches that "the ultimate value of our lives is decided not by how we win but by how we lose." And in "Honey Pie," which brings all these themes together, a young man has an opportunity to find happiness with the only woman he's ever loved and her young daughter, and determines that he will "never let anyone...try to put them into that crazy box, not even if the sky should fall or the earth crack open with a roar."
Despite the fact that Murakami states his themes overtly, the stories themselves are enigmatic and the action within them unpredictable, and the reader will ponder his meanings and his images long after the stories are finished. Wonderful descriptions, small details which reflect the characters' class and educational level, sympathetic and well drawn characters, and a sense that the world is absurd and illogical make this short collection unforgettable. Mary Whipple
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 15 July 2005
Each of the short stories in the excellent "After the Quake" is linked to the terrible earthquake that shook Kobe in 1995. Although none are actually set in Kobe, the epicentre of the devastation, allusions to the disaster flit briefly into the radar of each story before quickly dipping out of sight again. Though the characters in these haunting stories are far removed from the scene of the earthquake tragedy, the earthquake nonetheless reverberates in subtle ways deep into their troubled lives. If you enjoy these unconventional short stories, often containing elements both of realism and surrealism, and often with no neatly wrapped-up endings, then you may wish to try another Murakami short story collection, "The Elephant Vanishes."
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 30 October 2003
It has been a couple of weeks since I finished this slim book of stories by Murakami. I had read “Norwegian Wood” and “South of the Border, West of the Sun” and loved both.
Now, characters and incidents keep coming to mind for no apparent reason, and they seem so familiar that I try and dig back in my memory to find out where they come from…and it turns out they’re from “After the Quake”. There are so many characters and moments that have stayed with me after having read these stories, though I didn’t necessarily expect them to. For so short a book, Murakami certainly manages impact.
The Kobe earthquake as the common character to the stories works very well. It provides a sense of community that the individual stories don’t radiate, with their fractured relationships, drifters and people uncertain of their place. The earthquake presents a common timeframe, which unifies the other characters for the reader, in a way we feel couldn’t happen in their reality.
I noted with interest that Murakami has translated Raymond Carver’s work into English. This made me smile, as his stories to me resemble Carver’s in many ways. They are quite unsensational in their telling, concerned with the detail, the characters, as much as by events. But just as I felt comfortable in this world, Murakami packs a punch with “Super Frog Saves Tokyo” – certainly surreal! But even then, sensationalism doesn’t get in the way, and you find yourself half believing, if you read the story literally, that a giant frog saving Tokyo from an earthquake isn’t so strange!
I note the recommendation in another review here that a second reading ensures these stories have their full impact, and I can well believe it. They have left their impression on me, and part-remembered incidents, but not their whole. I look forward to re-reading them.
The stories are simply engaging, absorbing, and as beautiful as I have come to expect from Murakami.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
What this collection of short stories is, is not Mura-kami in deep, pensive, late night bottle-of-whiskey-at-the-kitchen-table mode. It is not steak and a hearty bordeaux, rather it is a club sandwich and a Heineken. This collection of short stories finds Mura-kami in a less introspective and more playful frame of mind, And shows us an entirely different facet to the authors very complex mind. The connecting thread of the 'great Han-shin earthquake' is largely irrelevant and probably more of a marketing ploy that an actual construct that runs throughout the fabric of these short stories. The event, it often seems, is more of an afterthought - something lurking in the shadows, rather than something at the forefront of the narrative.

These stories, for the most part consist of thoughts, echoes, dreams, characters, situations or recollections of ideas which have been more fully developed elsewhere in Murakami's work. That leaves the reader with a certain familiar sense of 'been there, seen that, done that', something which is not altogether a bad thing, and to some extent something to be expected. Without exception this collection is saved by the metaphorical bell of `Honey Pie', which although again, treads very familiar territory, is a fabulously endearing tale and something which Mura-kami has proven time and time again he has the propensity to render with heart warming prose.

In summation, a quick, light, enjoyable read - something to help unwind the stresses of the day rather than stimulate your consciousness and hijack your dreams.

Dictated directly into Dragon Dictate 2.0 (with very minor corrections by the author) Dragon Dictate 2.0 for Mac (Mac)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Murakami is one of the most original and interesting authors of the current age, and 'After the Quake' is a collection of short stories, all connected to the Kobe Earthquake.

The 6 separate and seemingly unconnected short stories in this volume are exquisitely crafted, and examine the violence and horror that lie beneath the apparent calm surface of life in modern Japan.

My favourite story is 'Super-Frog Saves Tokyo', a wonderful tale written with such a straight face that the surreal character and setting cease to be, by the end of the 2nd paragraph, such is the skill and nature of Murakami's writing.

Very much recommended, especially for people with any interest in the modern-Japanese mind.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 October 2013
I loved this collection of six short stories, which he make up my favourite of Murakami's short story books. Each of the stories touches on the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, although only gently- none of the stories are based there and none of them feature the earthquake as a main part of the tale.

As always with Murakami there are themes of love and loss, solitude and friendship and some of the stories include surreal moments which seem entirely believable when you are reading them.

This is a short book - only 132 pages - but if you enjoy Murakami's novels you will surely love this little collection of short tales too
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2008
Maybe it is the mark of an author at the top of his game when he can write a set of short stories where little or nothing actually happens in most, but can give the reader a feeling that they know characters in such a short space of time. Most of the characters here are Murakami's staple - introspective and introverted - and some stories still have his trademark surrealism (especially Super-Frog saves Tokyo).

Not the great "Kafka on the Shore" Murakami, or the equally brilliant "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle" Murakami, but far better than the "Elephant Vanishes" Murakami.

Definitely a good read, albeit a little short at 130 pages.
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As Murakami ironically notes himself: The short story seems to have died some time ago, however this selection of tales combining the surreal and the mundane in true Murakami style would seem to suggest that there's life in the genre yet.
In many ways Murakami's ideas and written expression are ideally suited to short story writing; the most surreal effort here is the story featuring a giant frog who appears to a young Japanese man and informs him of their quest to save Tokyo from the `sleeping worm' who will destroy the city with what will appear to be a series of massive earthquakes.
As the collection's title suggests, the theme of earthquakes is one that loosely links the five stories together - specifically the disastrous 1995 Kobe quake that inspired Murakami to write this. However, the underlying theme is really the Japanese national psyche; a complex but endlessly fascinating idea for us Westerners; hence Murakami's popularity around the world.
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on 5 February 2013
I think Haruki Murakami (NOT to be confused with Ruy Murakami) is to most people one of those writers you either love or hate. I am torn in between, because although I admit that his stories are written in a simple, sensitive and elegant style, I often wondered "what's the point"? Apart from a couple of surrealistic attempts, most of the stories narrate trivial life events, trying to make some generic philosophical point that does not come through well, and end up being pretentious and superficial. In addition, where other Japanese writers (e.g. Natsuo Kirino) write in a distinctive Japanese style, echoing their culture, H. Murakami writes in a pretentious generic and westernised style that I found somewhat annoying. I gave the book 3 stars because I am willing to give the author another try.
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on 4 October 2002
"After the Quake" comprises six short stories, all set in Japan in the weeks following the Kobe earthquake of 1995, and all influenced in some more-or-less oblique way by it, each one like a little aftershock. Murakami's way of interleaving the mundane with the fantastic works to powerful effect in every one of these tales. He expertly conjures the strange and the profound out of his apparently casual and conversational prose. The translation reads smoothly and feels quite transparent. I found these stories uniformly excellent & would recommend them to anyone.
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