Novelist as a Vocation

Books on Tape. Nov. 2022. tr. from Japanese by Philip Gabriel & Ted Goossen. 7:36 hrs. ISBN 9781524721855. $66.50. LIT
Part memoir, part critique of professional writing, Murakami’s (IQ84) latest nonfiction underwhelms. The book consists of a series of essays written over the past 15 years, with a seven-year gap between publication in Japan and the United States. Kotaro Watanabe’s narration is a bit disjointed at first, much like the collection of essays that are thinly linked from chapter to chapter, but once one acclimates to the conversational rhythm of Murakami’s style of nonfiction, the narration is well paired. Murakami notes that each essay came from jotted-down musings, and it sounds as such, like journal entries and rambling internal conversations. The book’s strengths lie in the more personal essays that shed light on Murakami’s process, such as “Making Time Your Ally,” but it is weighed down by industry-focused rants, pedantic interludes, and far too many interjections to take any of its advice with a grain of salt.
VERDICT Those who are fascinated by the writer and all that makes him tick may enjoy this after warming up to the narrative style, but those seeking guidance in the profession of writing may struggle to mine any gems of wisdom.
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