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Matt (Australia)

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After Dark
After Dark
by Haruki Murakami
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Translation is terrible, 26 Feb. 2013
This review is from: After Dark (Paperback)
It can't be Murakami's writing that is this bad, it has to be the dud translation. Judge for yourself. If you do not mind reading pages such as I shall quote below, you may enjoy the book, but if like me, pages such as I shall quote below read like a typical Hollywood/ American TV script to you, this book will be as hard to stomach as the aural and visual garbage it is fashioned on.
So here is what you can expect. Two young Japamese girls talking. They are ckecking a security camera. One of the two girls is well built:

"I don't know what the hell I'm doing with these digital gizmos."
"Muscles don't help much do they?" says Komugi
"You got it."
With an ernest expression, Korogi says, "I think maybe Kaoru was born at the wrong time."
"Yeah," says Komugi, "By like two thousand years."
"Right on," says Korogi.
"Think you've got it all figured out, huh?" says Kaoru.
"Can't you guys do this stuff?"
"No way!" they chime in together. (p.69)

Almost the whole book has to be read with an American accent, as per above, to come alive, but for a few proper names of things actually in Japan (so not brand names). Ironically the translator is not "some dude tryna eke a livin" but a Harvard Professor of Japanese literature. It really does make you wonder. The blurbs on the back of the book reiterate how surreal Murakami is - but not as surreal as the experience of reading a Americanized Japanese novel. It could be Murakami's fault, not Rubin the translator, I don't read Japanese, but either way this is trashy novel writing by the standard of good novels of the past.

What About Me? [DVD]
What About Me? [DVD]
Dvd ~ 1 Giant Leap
Price: £6.00

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars brilliant and also flawed, 13 April 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: What About Me? [DVD] (DVD)
This is a brilliant DVD and I agree with other reviewers who say so and their reasons. Apart from the feature length movie, there are a dozen or so 15 minute films, all exquisitely made, on themes, with extra material not in the main movie; a second video has the TV series. So this is value for money. The major flaw is that the film makers own cultural tradition is not represented but repressed. Bhagwan Das and Ekhart Tolle were wonderfully and well presented, but there was no adequate comparison with the Judeo-Christian traditions, Bridgeman's own idiom. There is a real nutty American evangelical Christian minister, which is totally misrepresenting Christianity, except for an American denomination. It was a pity they couldn't get Bono because he was too busy (according to an interview Duncan B. gave when he was over here). They could have got someone like Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in London I'm sure or Kushner or any one of many amazing rabbis in America. This lack of representation from their Western spiritual tradition (like it or not) is a flaw in an otherwise wonderful (but for the reasons I've given only partially successful) accomplishment. However, I should add, the musical side of things was hypnotic and gave both parts real rhythm and beat. Krishna Das singing Mere Guru Dev really jumped out for me from all the music as exceptional and special because it was so haunting and transcendent.

Thomas Mann: Eros and Literature
Thomas Mann: Eros and Literature
by Anthony Heilbut
Edition: Paperback

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars More to do with Heilbut than Mann, 13 April 2009
This book is very well researched. Also, I appreciated the elliptical narrative. It was skillful and made sense and avoided a boring linear style. In fact, for me, an educated reader, this aspect of his biography recommends it highly. However, what completely kills this as a book worth reading about Thomas Mann (if you dare disbelieve the American hype) is that everthing is put down to sex: all his books, all his characters, all his relationships in real life, everything to do with Thomas Mann is about sex and of course, that means his homosexuality. If someone were to write a book about Joseph Conrad or Thomas Hardy on the same premise, that his art and life all boiled down to his heterosexuality, it would be absurd and of course noone has bothered. But this is how absurd Heilbut's book is. Thomas Mann, in Eros and Literature, is a pretext for Heilbut's contemporary New York sexual politics and the book is actually about the latter, not the former. If you are interested in New York sexual-textual politics, buy it, you'll love it; if not, like me you'll find it revolting. I believe, after reading it, Thomas Mann would not recognise himself in this book. The total miscomprehension of his diaries as a genre is a good case in point. Mann's personal writings to himself are used literally as a pretext of Heilbut's textual politics. Heilbut is a sexual fundamentalist and it shines on every page of Eros and Literature, I mean, every page!

Norwegian Wood
Norwegian Wood
by Haruki Murakami
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proustian, 15 May 2006
This review is from: Norwegian Wood (Paperback)
Even if you don't like the content (a thoughtful, soulful coming of age novel) you have to praise the perfect style. The book starts with the narrator coming in to land at an international airport when an old Beatles song comes over the inflight sound system and it jogs the narrator's memory. He casts his mind back. The whole novel is set in this moment, although it is so perfectly accomplished that we don't notice. The book reads like a smooth narrative, but if we watch closely it follows the logic of memory. Thus the various moods of memory suffuse the pages. It is an absolute masterpiece from a stylistic point of view on a par with Tolstoy and Proust, though perhaps the subject is slighter. I found the story tremendously poignant and the characters like people I'd known (as happens at the hands of the very best novelists; even though I live as far from Japan, culturally speaking, as I do from Pierre and Natasha in Moscow or young Marcel in Balbec). Not a book for ignoramus's though, as Proust and Tolstoy are not either.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
by Haruki Murakami
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

3 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best, 15 May 2006
Norwegian Wood is a stunning world-class novel and some of Murakami's other novels are eminently readable and enjoyable. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is the one you hear about as his 'masterpiece'. It isn't. Kafka on the Shore is excellent and preferable to this. Why the hype then about Chronicle? If you see the US Amazon site, everyone is raving about Chronicle. On the English site, you begin to find readers with serious reservations. If you are thinking to read this book, believe the reviewers with reservations. I won't reiterate what they've said. The clue to why Chronicle is full of brilliant gems (some seperately published in the New Yorker) but is ultimately unsalvageable is that Murakami wrote it while Writer in Residence at an Ivy League American University. Chronicle has all the clever hallmarks of pat American University bred creativity that tends to annoy non-American English readers. It has that predigested Pyncheon Barthean feel (you know what I mean), even in the very un-Murakami size of it, which wrecks Murakami, who I believe in other respects is one of the world's greatest living novelists.

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