I just finished reading a new short story by Murakami that was published in the New Yorker - Cream. Its my second read for the JLC12. My next read will be a short story by Yoko Ogawa that I am so looking forward to. Anyhow, Cream was definitely a typical Murakami story. There was a sense of loneliness, mystery, and the unknown. It left me feeling confused, delighted, and full of questions.
In the story, an older man is telling his young friend about something that happened when he was eighteen. A memory that haunts him still. He recounts the time he was invited to a piano recital by a girl who was not his friend. An invitation from someone he barely knew. Strange yes, but nonetheless, he decided to go. So, he traveled to the destination on the map that was provided with the invitation. Once he got there he realized that the building was empty - in fact, it was locked up and looked as if no one had been there in ages. Confused and unsure what to do, he knocked and knocked. No one answered. He walked away with the intention of heading home. Finding a bench nearby, he stopped. There was a small park he hadn't noticed before. Thinking about what had just happened to him, he found he couldn't breathe, so he bent over and tried to relax in hopes that this panic would soon fade. Eventually he came to realize that he was no longer alone in the park. An old man was sitting across from him. The man stared at him and never spoke to ask if he was alright. Instead, out of nowhere, the old man made a comment about a circle - a puzzle. Confused, he told the old man that he didn't understand. The old man went on to talk about the circle and cream. Unsure what the old man meant, he tried to figure out this puzzle about the circle to no avail. He even closed his eyes in concentration and when he opened them he found the old man had vanished. Looking around, he decided it was time to go home. Over the years (even now) whenever something inexplicable happened to him he would find himself thinking about the circle. His young friend asked what the point of the story was and if he ever did figure out the circle puzzle. He told him the point was that odd things happened without explanation and all you could do was not think about them and move on. He never figured out the circle puzzle, but he did have his own personal ideas about what it could mean.
And that is the story. I didn't give it all away so you can still enjoy it over at the New Yorker - Cream. I did give you plenty to help you get the gist of it all. What do you think? Its odd and has no closure, eh? Definitely a strange tale by Murakami. I found myself thinking about the circle and this notion of cream long after I finished reading. I thought about the young man turning up to an abandoned building and wondering about the invitation he had received. I thought about the point of sharing this memory from his past with his young friend. I thought about how he tried to figure out the circle puzzle over the years. And I thought about what made Murakami write this short story. So many thoughts floating around in my head about such a short tale. Like I said, it was typical Murakami.
Let me know if you read Cream and what you thought of it. Maybe you can give me some ideas as to what it was all about. I'm off to read Yoko Ogawa's short story now. I meant to read it yesterday, but read the Murakami one instead. I'm thinking that was smart of me, because now I know that I will be diving into something vastly different to Murakami and equally superior (if not more so). Happy reading!!