Work, Writing

Whose writing do you want to make out with?

When I was a little girl, I would swing high on the swings next to Rachel or Lisa or Debbie who would be fisting two Twizzlers while simultaneously reaching with their feet for the moon.

Rachel or Lisa or Debbie would say, “I love Twizzlers so much.”

And I would say snidely, “If you love them so much, why don’t you marry them?”

There is a period between the ages of 6 and 7 in which this is the response to pretty much any sentence containing the word, “love.”

And while it’s easy to shrug this off as an immature, but age appropriate reaction to the word “love,” I’d also like to suggest that it also demonstrates a need for a word or expression that illustrates how one can love something inanimate so very, very much.

Is that really love?

Or is it something else?

After-the-QuakeI need a word for when I want to make out with good writing.

Last night, I finished reading Haruki Murakami’s short story collection, “After the Quake.”

As I do when I finish all of Murakami’s work, I sat in bed and absorbed the final words of the penultimate sentence in the book.

His writing does that to me.

It makes me want to bathe in it.

Soak up every last character description; every musing; every carefully thought-out analogy or metaphor.

In this particular instance, I was so grateful to Murakami because I have been struggling with a particular element in my own writing — how to describe the way music makes me feel. How to show, and not tell, how a character may be transported back in time in an instant at the first note of a song or by the tapping of certain keys on a piano.

Music plays this very role for the main character, Satsuki, in Murakami’s story, “Thailand.” A driver who picks her up at the airport slips a cassette tape into the car stereo and in an instant Satsuki recognizes the jazz tune “with some emotion” from a record her father used to play over and over as a child.

I read the passages on this page three or four times. The first time, as an engaged reader, but the following times as a student of the craft.

How does he do it, that genius, Murakami? What words does he use that don’t sound trite?

And how does he keep the reader’s interest when the reader does not know the music that he is describing?

I struggle with this a lot — how can a reader reading about Van Morrison appreciate Van Morrison if she has never heard him?

Right now, if I could aspire to any writing, it would be to Murakami’s. He is the moon I want to reach with my feet. He is the Twizzlers I want to double fist.

His is the writing I want to make out with.

4 thoughts on “Whose writing do you want to make out with?”

  1. Definitely get what you are saying–have read all of his novels and they never stop amazing. Now I’m STILL reading 1Q84, started in June! And he did it again w/Janacek’s Sinfonietta, weaved throughout. Funny as I was just describing this book to a friend the other day about the simple words. Simple Ideas. Expressed over and over..but not redundant. Never boring. Doesn’t drag. Yet I’d love to know what happens soon and wonder if I’ll ever get there! Maybe December?


  2. I liked the idea of making out with somebody’s writing!
    Yes, that’s exactly how I feel about some books- that I wanna make out with them.
    The latest would be John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars!
    That’s the book I wanna make out with! 🙂


  3. Wonderful metaphors, and inspiring, too. I do find myself reading how other, published (read: “real”) writers do their thing, but maybe I need to study it more, rather than being blithely swept along in the wake of the story. Robin and I were sharing Murakami stories a week or so ago and I’ve been eyeing 1Q84 on our bookshelf since then. I think I’ve read 3 of his books but it may be time to pick up the next few.


  4. The author at a book signing wished me good luck in learning Japanese so as to fully enjoy his stories, but for now “kissing through a hankerchief” as Amos Oz (A. B. Yehoshua?) remarked on reading in translation, is good enough for me


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