Choice picks from Uncle Murakami

So for those who do not know, Haruki Murakami set up an online “Aunt Agony” column of sorts for fans, sorta like Reddit’s Ask me anything for famous people, but in Japanese.
The cover picture is gorgeous!

Here are some of his translated answers extracted mainly from WSJ Japan:

Asked by one fan on his thoughts about being called the frontrunner for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Mr. Murakami said it was “quite annoying.”

It isn’t like there’s an official shortlist, it’s just private bookmakers coming up with these odds. It’s not as if this were a horse race,” he replied

Another fan asked the author how people can improve their writing skills.

Writing talent is similar to the art of chatting up a girl. You can improve to a certain degree through practice, but basically you are either born with it or you aren’t,” he wrote.

He also revealed in a separate post that he seldom reads his own work because it is too embarrassing.

In opening the website, the author said he is open to a variety of comments and questions including queries about cats, creatures that are a frequent motif in his work. One fan asked Mr. Murakami if he had any idea where her pet cat, missing for years, had gone.

Cats tend to disappear. Take good care of them while they are around,” Mr. Murakami replied.

In one of his responses since then, he took up the theme of the afterlife with a 34-year-old female fan. After dying, Mr. Murakami said he simply hopes to rest in peace.

I don’t want heaven or hell, or hostess bars,” he wrote. “I don’t want to be disturbed by anyone, and would like to simply sleep in peace. I might want to eat some oyster fries every once in a while, though.

On same-sex marriages, Mr. Murakami said he had many gay friends who recently tied the knot in the United States.

Everyone looked very happy about getting married. That delighted me. Therefore, I am in favor of same-sex marriage,” he said.

In another response, the writer said Natsume Soseki’s “Sanshiro” was one of his all-time favorite books, while “The Goldfinch,” a 2013 novel by Donna Tartt, was one of his more recent preferred reads.

One fan said she couldn’t picture Mr. Murakami using a smartphone. The author replied that he was a hardcore fan of Apple Inc.’s products.

I have used a Mac since 1991,” as well as an iPhone, iPad and iPod, he wrote, adding that he has spent a fortune on Apple products.

The period when Steve Jobs was away from the company he described as “the dark ages,” saying it still made him feel gloomy thinking about that time.

And what does Mr. Murakami listen to on his iPod? The author wrote that he likes hip-hop acts, such as the Black Eyed Peas and the Gorillaz.

Q: Hi, Mr. Murakami!
I am really a big fan of yours.
I just want to ask how do you come up with your ideas in writing a story?  And where do you get inspiration from?

A:Honestly, I don’t trust inspiration. Inspiration is just an accumulation of your usual small memories. Trust your memories.

In response to a question from a 17-year-old female fan on how to lose weight, Mr. Murakami said that there are only three ways to achieve the goal. “There is no need to read any manual on diet. It’s very simple,” he wrote, explaining that one has to eat less, exercise often or fall in love. “The final option is very effective,” he wrote.

One male student asked Mr. Murakami about the process of falling in love, in English.

Basically it’s an accidental collision. It is unpredictable and inescapable. So, always fasten your seatbelt,” the author replied.

A 26-year-old female fan asked for advice on how to carry fewer items in her bag, to which Mr. Murakami answered that he had a similar problem.

Mr. Murakami said he carries books, an iPod, swimming suit in case he has the sudden urge to swim, an Amazon Kindle book reader, glasses, tooth brush, a Red Sox cap, and an appointment book among other items. I would like to travel light if only it were possible, he said.

Q: Dear Haruki-san, I have a question that whether you have ever thought about that your work has such a big influence abroad? When you conduct your work, have you ever thought about meeting the needs of foreign readers?

A:Honestly, I don’t think about the readers, either domestic or foreign, when I write. I have no idea what kind of people are reading my novels. Stories come to me and I grasp it and write it down. That is all. It is just like catching exotic birds or butterflies in the deep woods. I have no time to think about the readers. I am too busy catching stories. If I lose sight of them once, they would be gone in an instant, and probably for good.

I wish everything I said were that quotable. I love all the little illustrations on his site! They are so Japanese. We’re in midterm week and I just submitted my algebra midterm just now. Couldn’t solve a part of the last problem :(
Going to be really busy completing the two homeworks due Monday and preparing for the complex midterm on Wednesday. Nobody has time to think about Valentine’s day and anniversaries and stuff with school going on. I guess graduate students are less lonely than the average person who has time to slouch around and moan about being alone. I haven’t decided if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.



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