Title: Sleep by Haruki Marukami
Date Read: 11 November 2008
Available Online?: YES
Briefly: A Japanese wife, in a loving but routine filled marriage, has a problem with insomnia which evolves into a condition where she feels she needs no sleep at all, and apparently suffers no ill-effects from not doing so. Her dentist husband and her son are heavy sleepers, so the wife is able to live this second life during the hours of darkness, which she does to full effect, reigniting a love for reading. Subtly however, her condition deteriorates and her personality begins to slowly change, much to the woman’s detriment.
Afterthoughts: What an incredibly sublime reading experience this story gave me (even with the multitude of OCR recognition errors I had to deal with in the copy I read). I have a Murakami title (The Wind-up Bird Chronicle) in my ’50 Novel’ reading list and another (Kafka on the Shore) on my ‘to read’ shelf, but this is the first time I’ve read any of Murakami’s writing. I’m blown away! Even in this short story (although not too short at 13,000+ words), I can see why the Japanese writer has such a widespread following. Murakami’s prose is so eloquent, so poetic and superbly constructed. The characters in this story are so incredibly well described that my mind’s eye has no trouble seeing them, even now. The story is unusual but wholly gripping, and I love how Murakami weaves his obvious love for Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina into a love shown in his main character. Literary fiction is a great love of mine, and for me it doesn’t get more literary than this. An absolute treat!
Notable Quote: ” I remember with perfect clarity that first night I lost the ability to sleep. I was having a repulsive dream?a dark, slimy dream. I don’t remember what it was about, but I do remember how it felt ominous and terrifying. I woke at the climatic moment?came fully awake with a start, as if something had dragged me back at the last moment from a fatal turning point. Had I remained immersed in the dream for another second, I would have been lost forever. My breath came in painful gasps for a time after I awoke. My arms and legs felt paralyzed. I lay there immobilized, listening to my own labored breathing, as if I were stretched out full length on the Boor of a huge cavern.”
*Story read as part of my 100 Shots of Short reading challenge.