Snippet: After Dark

Through the eyes of a high-flying night bird, we take in the scene from midair. In our broad sweep, the city looks like a single gigantic creature—or more like a single collective entity created by many intertwining organisms. Countless arteries stretch to the ends of its elusive body, circulating a continuous supply of fresh blood cells, sending out new data and collecting the old, sending out new consumables and collecting the old, sending out new contradictions and collecting the old. To the rhythm of its pulsing, all parts of the body flicker and flare up and squirm. Midnight is approaching, and while the peak of activity has passed, the basal metabolism that maintains life continues undiminished, producing the basso continuo of the city’s moan, a monotonous sound that neither rises nor falls but is pregnant with foreboding.
After Dark, by Haruki Murakami

The district plays by its own rules at a time like this. The season is late autumn. No wind is blowing, but the air carries a chill. The date is just about to change.
After Dark, by Haruki Murakami

Dear Mr. Murakami,

I think it’s really clever, how you portray the pulsing, urban metropolis of Tokyo as a giant organism. Countless arteries stretch to the ends of its elusive body, circulating a continuous supply of fresh blood cells, sending out new data and collecting the old, sending out new consumables and collecting the old, sending out new contradictions and collecting the old. How rhythmic, poetic, and beautifully metaphorical. I too think sometimes, when looking down upon a bustling city, that it seems more animal & alive than a staid cluster of sheet glass & cold steel. I’m pleased I’m not the only one who thinks that way.

I also like how you chose to explore the je ne sais quois that envelops a city when the sun goes down. Curious, isn’t it, how a city really does become a very different place at night? Sometimes, it seems like it becomes a completely different world, with different creatures playing by different rules. It becomes an enchanting, almost unreal place — a place that breathes of possibility and fantasy and escape underneath the blanket of stars and glittering lights. And yet it becomes an incredibly dangerous and sinister place, too — a place where people are preyed upon and beaten up; a place where, despite the crowds of people, one can feel utterly and incredibly alone, without a soul to call your friend. Pretty crazy, to say the least.

I still have a ways to go with this book, but I’m enjoying every step of my slow but steady journey. I like Kaoru and her spunky staff at the Alphaville. I’m terrified for Eri, of what the man in the TV screen will do to her. I’m equal parts curious and sympathetic towards Mari. I want to see what other sorts of people she will meet as the night wears on.

Your humble fan,

J.E.

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