Saturday, June 21, 2008


After Dark

I hadn't read novels for a while. Maybe I was a bit disappointed by my fiction choices, maybe there were just too many interesting non-fiction books, like Microcosm, drawing my attention. But recently I had several trips where I needed something to read on the plane or at the hotel. I enjoyed Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union (although, like Kavalier&Klay, it could have benefitted from a tougher editor), but After Dark is something else. Spare, subtle, deceptively plain. If quantum entanglement can have a fictional embodiment, this may be it. The action seems random, but correlated in unexpected ways. Even in my own memory. When I started reading it on the flight from MSP to SFO (returning from ACL in Columbus), it evoked the long-ago reading of Report on Probability A, by Brian Aldiss. Aldiss did not achieve Murakami's grit and emotional density, but he got the entanglement.

I had never read any novel by Murakami. Then I read a self-portrait in The New Yorker that used his taking up of long-distance running as the driver for the story of becoming a full-time fiction writer. I had to read something by him after that.


In other book news, the beautiful Chile-Argentina: Handbook of Ski Mountaineering in the Andes by Frédéric Lena arrived in a well-wrapped package from Grenoble. Beautiful photos, detailed maps and routes of many Andean ski tours, a few of which I've done. Now I just need to sort out my trip down there this summer...

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