A Wild Sheep Chase Quotes

202I knocked out another long overdue Murakami, almost cover-to-cover over the course of two days. I started reading A Wild Sheep Chase a couple of years ago. I worked a job with a split shift and had three hours to kill during lunchtime. At the time, I didn’t have a place of my own to stay, and I didn’t like going back to where I was sleeping. It would have been a long walk there and back, and there was nothing to do anyway.

So I’d go to the library or sit in the shopping centre, either reading books, or writing my own outlines and dialogue for stories I planned. A Wild Sheep Chase was one of the books I started reading during that time. I got about half-way through, but a lot of things happened around May and June of that year, and my schedule changed, and I didn’t have my alone time in the library or on shopping centre benches anymore.

But to cut a long story short, I picked it up again a few days ago a here we are. I couldn’t quite remember where I left off, so I started again from the beginning. As has become a little tradition, I wrote down all the quotes I particularly enjoyed as I read through the book, and here they are for anybody to read. They’re from the 299 page paperback published by Vintage in 2003, with translation by Alfred Birnbaum.


Page 5.
I forgot her name.
I could pull out the obituary, but what difference would it make now. I’ve forgotten her name.
Suppose I meet up with old friends and mid-swing the conversation turns to her. No one ever remembers her name either. Say, back then there was this girl who’d sleep with anyone, you know, what’s-her-face, the name escapes me, but I slept with her lots of times, wonder what she’s doing now, be funny to run into her on the street.
“Back then, there was this girl who’d sleep with anyone.” That’s her name.

Page 20.
From the photo albums, every single print of her had been peeled away. Shots of the both of us together had been cut, the parts with her neatly trimmed away, leaving my image behind. Photos of me alone or of mountains and rivers and deer and cats were left intact. Three albums rendered into a revised past. It was as if I’d been alone at birth, alone all my days, and would continue alone.

Page 26.
There were, of course, no whales in the aquarium. One whale would have been too big, even if you knocked out all the walls and made the entire aquarium into one tank. Instead, the aquarium kept a whale penis on display. As a token, if you will.
So it was that my most impressionable years of boyhood were spent gazing at not a whale but a whale’s penis. Whenever I tired of strolling through the chill aisles of the aquarium, I’d steal off to my place on the bench in the hushed, high-ceilinged stillness of the exhibition room and spend hours on end there contemplating this whale’s penis.

Page 37.
I swallowed my breath and gazed at her, transfixed. My mouth went dry. From no part of me could I summon a voice. For an instant, the white plaster wall seemed to ripple. The voices of the other diners and the clinking of their dinnerware grew faint, then once again returned to normal. I heard the sound of waves, re-called the scent of a long forgotten evening. Yet all this was but a mere fragment of the sensations passing through me in those few hundredths of a second.

Page 38.
She’d become so beautiful, it defied understanding. Never had I feasted my eyes on such beauty. Beauty of a variety I’d never imagined existed. As expansive as the entire universe, yet as dense as a glacier. Unabashedly excessive, yet at the same time pared down to an essence. It transcended all concepts within the boundaries of my awareness. She was at one with her ears, gliding down the oblique face of time like a protean beam of light.
“You’re extraordinary,” I said, after catching my breath.
“I know, ” she said. “These are my ears in their unblocked state.”
Several of the other customers were now turned our way, staring agape at her. The waiter who came over with more espresso couldn’t pour properly. Not a soul uttered a word. Only the reels on the tape deck kept slowly spinning.
She retrieved a clove cigarette from her purse and put it to her lips. I hurriedly offered her a light with my lighter.
“I want to sleep with you,” she said.
So we slept together.

Page 40.
I couldn’t for the life of me believe I might be any better or different in any way than anyone else.

Page 76.
Generally, people who are good at writing letters have no need to write letters. They’ve got plenty of life to lead inside their own context. This, of course, is only my opinion. Maybe it’s impossible to live out a life in context.

Page 76.
My biggest fault is that the faults I was born with grow bigger each year. It’s like I was raising chickens inside me. The chickens lay eggs and the eggs hatch into other chickens, which then lay eggs. Is this any way to live a life? What with all these faults I’ve got going, I have to wonder. Sure, I get by. But in the end, that’s not the question, is it?

Page 80.
Time really is one big continuous cloth, no? We habitually cut out pieces of time to fit us, so we tend to fool ourselves into thinking that time is our size, but it really goes on and on.

Page 85.
Boarding a long-distance train without any luggage gave me a feeling of exhilaration. It was as if while out taking a leisurely stroll, I was suddenly like a dive-bomber caught in a space-time warp. In which there is nothing: no dentist’s appointments, no pending issues in desk drawers, no inextricably complicated human involvements, no favors demanded. I’d left all that behind, temporarily.

Page 86.
What’s over for one person isn’t over for another. Simple as that. Beyond, the path goes in two different directions.

Page 88.
Almost all the customers in the place were university student couples, neatly dressed and politely sipping their highballs. No girls on the verge of passing out drunk, no hot fights brewing. You could tell that when they went home, they put on pajamas, brushed their teeth, and went straight to bed. There was nothing wrong with that. Nice and neat is fine and dandy. There’s nothing in a bar or in the world at large that says things have to be a certain way.

Page 90.
“I really don’t know if it’s the right thing to do, making new life. Kids grow up, generations take their place. What does it all come to? More hills bulldozed and more oceanfronts filled in? Faster cars and more cats run over? Who needs it?”

Page 98.
You concentrate on waiting for someone and after a certain time it hardly matters what happens anymore. It could be five years or ten years or one month. It’s all the same.

Page 108.
“People can generally be classified into two groups: the mediocre realists and the mediocre dreamers. You clearly belong to the latter. Your fate is and will always be the fate of a dreamer.”

Page 123.
“Mediocrity takes many forms.”

Page 125.
There’re many things we don’t really know. It’s an illusion that we know anything at all. If a group of aliens were to stop me and ask, “Say, bud, how many miles an hour does the earth spin at the equator?” I’d be in a fix. Hell, I don’t even know why Wednesday follows Tuesday. I’d be an intergalactic joke.

Page 126.
“To get irritated is to lose our way in life.”

Page 127.
“The Boss is an honorable man. After the Lord, the most godly person I’ve ever met.”
“You’ve met God?”
“Certainly. I telephone Him every night.”

Page 129.
I planted an elbow on the armrest of my chair, rested my head on my hands, and shut my eyes. Nothing came to mind. With my eyes closed, I could hear hundreds of elves sweeping out my head with their tiny brooms. They kept sweeping and sweeping. It never occurred to any of them to use a dustpan.

Page 131.
I’m well on the way to veteran class when it comes to killing time in the city.

Page 131.
A built-in ceiling speaker called my name. At first it didn’t sound like my name. Only a few seconds after the announcement was over did it sink in that I’d heard the special characteristics of my name, and only gradually then did it come to me that my name was my name.

Page 135.
“I can’t figure it out. You’re probably right that it’s better to do something than nothing. Even if it’s futile in the end, at least we looked for the sheep. On the other hand, I don’t like being ordered and threatened and pushed around.”
“To a greater or lesser extent, everybody’s always being ordered and threatened and pushed around. There may not be anything better we could hope for.”

Page 140.
There’s that kind of money in the world. It aggravates you to have it, makes you miserable to spend it, and you hate yourself when it’s gone. And when you hate yourself, you feel like spending money. Except there’s no money left. And no hope.

Page 140.
Casually taking it all in, I thought of my ex-wife’s parting remark that maybe we ought to have had children. To be sure, at my age it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to have kids, but me a father? Good grief. What kid would want to have anyone like me for a father?

Page 149.
With the job out of the picture, I felt a surge of relief. Slowly but surely I was making things simpler. I’d lost my hometown, lost my teens, lost my wife, in another three months I’d lose my twenties. What’d be left for me when I got to sixty, I couldn’t imagine. There’s no thinking about these things. There’s no telling even what’s going to happen a month from now.

Page 152.
“Nice kitty-kitty,” said the chauffeur, hand not outstretched. “What’s his name?”
“He doesn’t have a name.”
“So what do you call the fella?”
“I don’t call it,” I said. “It’s just there.”

Page 167.
“Body cells replace themselves every month. Even at this very moment,” she said, thrusting a skinny back of her hand before my eyes. “Most everything you think you know about me is nothing more than memories.”

Page 172.
We returned to the hotel and had intercourse. I like that word intercourse. It poses only a limited range of possibilities.

Page 246.
I was feeling lonely without her, but the fact that I could feel lonely at all was consolation. Loneliness wasn’t such a bad feeling. It was like the stillness of the pin oak after the little birds had flown off.

Men Without Women Quotes

201

I started reading Men Without Women in May 2017, the month it was published in English. At the time, I was going through a very difficult break-up. I finally finished the book this week, almost two years later, and feel I am still going through that break-up.

I moved home that May, after a two-month period of couch surfing, which is why Men Without Women was adjourned for a while. I had a lot to get in order and never got around to picking it up again. Until now, of course. Some other notable things happened that month. I experienced perhaps the loneliest birthday of my life so far, and that May was the last time I ever heard from my ex-girlfriend.

In many ways, this book epitomised and still epitomises my situation. I’m kind of glad that I put it off for a while. I started it fresh into a new era of loneliness, and finished it well accustomed to the world of Men Without Women. The contents were a familiar palate, to me perhaps more so than any other Murakami, but as is usual, the author warps the distressing and the depressing into beautiful tales, both enlightening and inspiring. Reading Men Without Women welled up many sad memories, but Murakami’s prose helped shed a fresh, invigorating light on what has been a dark period of my life.

As I have done before on this blog, I compiled a list of quotes as I read through Murakami’s new book. These excerpts are all passages that I am particularly fond of and cover all seven of the short stories in the collection, though some feature more than others. They’re collected from the 240-page hardback published by Harvill Secker, with translations by Murakami regulars Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen. I hope you’ll find the prose as interesting and illuminating as I do.


Drive My Car

Page 10.
While he didn’t dislike talking to people he knew well about things that mattered, he otherwise preferred to remain silent.

Page 16.
He regretted that he had not summoned his resolve while she was still alive to question her about her affairs. It was a regret that visited him frequently. He had been oh-so-close to asking her. He would have said, What were you looking for in those other men? What did you find lacking in me? But it had been mere months before the end, and she was suffering terribly as she struggled against her approaching death. He didn’t have the heart to demand an answer. Then, without a word of explanation, she had vanished from Kafuku’s world. The question never ventured, the answer never proffered. He was lost in those thoughts at the crematorium as he plucked her bones from the ashes. So lost that when someone whispered in his ear, Kafuku did not hear him.

Page 17.
In every situation, knowledge was better than ignorance. However agonizing, it was necessary to confront the facts. Only through knowing could a person become strong.

Page 19.
Words, they felt, could only cheapen the emotions they were feeling.

Page 20.
“You loved being someone other than yourself?”
“Yes, as long as I knew I could go back.”
“Did you ever not want to go back?”

Page 24.
“Relationships between people, especially between men and women, operate on — what should I say — a more general level. More vague, more self-centered, more pathetic.”

Page 26.
He was struck by how easy it was to read Takatsuki’s emotions. The man was transparent — if he looked into his eyes long enough, Kafuku thought, he could probably see the wall behind him. There was nothing warped, nothing nasty. Hardly the type to dig a deep hole at night and wait for someone to fall in.

Page 29.
He doubted the dead could think or feel anything. In his opinion, that was one of the great things about dying.

Page 33.
“Can any of us ever perfectly understand another person? However much we may love them?”

Page 34.
“The proposition that we can look into another person’s heart with perfect clarity strikes me as a fool’s game. I don’t care how well we think we should understand them, or how much we love them. All it can do is cause us pain. Examining your own heart, however, is another matter. I think it’s possible to see what’s in there if you work hard enough at it. So in the end maybe that’s the challenge: to look inside your own heart as perceptively and seriously as you can, and to make peace with what you find there. If we hope to truly see another person, we have to start by looking within ourselves.”

Page 35.
They shook hands once again on parting. A fine rain was falling outside. After Takatsuki had walked off into the drizzle in his beige raincoat, Kafuku, as was his habit, looked down at his right palm. It was that hand that had caressed my wife’s naked body, he thought.
Yet on this day, that thought did not suffocate him. Instead, his reaction was, yes, such things do happen. They do happen. After all, it’s just a matter of flesh and blood. No more than a pile of bone and ash in the end, right? There has to be something more important than that.


Yesterday

Page 45.
When I moved from Kansai to Toyko to start college, I spent the whole bullet-train ride mentally reviewing my eighteen years and realized that almost everything that had happened to me was pretty embarrassing. I’m not exaggerating. I didn’t want to remember any of it — it was so pathetic. The more I thought about my life up to then, the more I hated myself.

Page 57.
Not being able to find the right words at crucial times is one of my many problems.

Page 58.
I left the coffee shop, and as I walked to the station I wondered what the hell I was doing. Brooding over how things had turned out — after everything had already been decided — was another of my chronic problems.

Page 60.
“Is it hard on you?” she asked.
“Is what hard?”
“Suddenly being on your own after being a couple.”
“Sometimes,” I said honestly.
“But maybe going through that kind of tough, lonely experience is necessary when you’re young? Part of the process of growing up?”
“You think so?”
“The way surviving hard winters makes a tree grow stronger, the growth rings inside it tighter.”

Page 74.
“You remember my dream?” she asked.
“For some reason, I do.”
“Even though it’s someone else’s dream?”
“Dreams are the kind of things you can — when you need to — borrow and lend out,” I said. I really do overplay these sayings sometimes.

Page 75.
Music has that power to revive memories, sometimes so intensely that they hurt.


An Independent Organ

Page 85.
“A gentleman doesn’t talk much about the taxes he paid, or the women he sleeps with,” he told me once.
“Who said that?” I asked.
“I made it up,” he said, his expression unchanged. “Of course, sometimes I do have to talk about taxes with my accountant.”

Page 91.
“I’ve been out with lots of women who are much prettier than her, better built, with better taste, and more intelligent. But those comparisons are meaningless. Because to me she is someone special. A ‘complete presence,’ I guess you could call it. All of her qualities are tightly bound into one core. You can’t separate each individual quality to measure and analyze it, to say it’s better or worse than the same quality in someone else. It’s what’s in her core that attracts me so strongly. Like a powerful magnet. It’s beyond logic.”

Page 93.
“These days I’ve often wondered, who in the world am I? And very seriously at that. If you took away my career as a plastic surgeon, and the happy environment I’m living in, and threw me out into the world, with no explanation, and with everything stripped away — what in the world would I be?”

Page 108.
As long as it all makes sense, no matter how deep you fall, you should be able to pull yourself together again.

Page 110.
I think that what we can do for those who have passed on is keep them in our memories as long as we can.

Page 111.
Women are all born with a special, independent organ that allows them to lie. This was Dr. Tokai’s personal opinion. It depends on the person, he said, about the kinds of lies they tell, what situation they tell them in, and how the lies are told. But at a certain point in their lives, women tell lies, and they lie about important things. They lie about unimportant things, too, but they also don’t hesitate to lie about the most important things. And when they do, most women’s expressions and voices don’t change at all, since it’s not them lying, but this independent organ they’re equipped with that’s acting on its own. That’s why — except in a few special cases — they can still have a clear conscience and never lose sleep over anything they say.


Scheherazade

Page 119.
Habara imagined a bunch of lampreys swaying like weeds at the bottom of a lake. The scene seemed somehow divorced from reality, although reality, he knew, could at times be terribly unreal.

Page 121.
“What do lampreys think about?”
“Lampreys think very lamprey-like thoughts. About lamprey-like topics in a context that’s very lamprey-like. There are no words for those thoughts. They belong to the world of water. It’s like when we were in the womb. We were thinking things in there, but we can’t express those thoughts in the language we use out here. Right?”

Page 142.
“Life is strange, isn’t it? You can be totally entranced by the glow of something one minute, be willing to sacrifice everything to make it yours, but then a little time passes, or your perspective changes a bit, and all of a sudden you’re shocked at how faded it appears. What was I looking at? you wonder.”


Kino

Page 153.
As he waited for his first customer, Kino enjoyed listening to whatever music he liked and reading books he’d been wanting to read. Like dry ground welcoming the rain, he let the solitude, silence, and loneliness soak in.

Page 153.
Happiness? He wasn’t even sure what that meant. He didn’t have a clear sense, either, of emotions like pain or anger, disappointment or resignation, and how they were supposed to feel. The most he could do was create a place where his heart — devoid now of any depth or weight — could be tethered, to keep it from wandering aimlessly. This little bar, Kino, tucked into a backstreet became that place. And it became, too — not by design, exactly — a strangely comfortable place.

Page 167.
Kino’s wife was wearing a new blue dress, her hair cut shorter than he’d ever seen it. She looked healthy and cheerful. She’d begun a new, no doubt more fulfilling, life. She glanced around the bar. “What a wonderful place,” she said. “Quiet, clean, and calm — very you.” A short silence followed. But there’s nothing here that really moves you: Kino imagined that these were the words she wanted to say.

Page 184.
“Don’t look away, look right at it,” someone whispered in his ear. “This is what your heart looks like.”


Samsa in Love

Page 209.
“It’s strange, isn’t it?” the woman said in a pensive voice. “Everything is blowing up around us, but there are still those who care about a broken lock, and others who are dutiful enough to try to fix it… But maybe that’s the way it should be. Maybe working on the little things as dutifully and honestly as we can is how we stay sane when the world is falling apart.”


Men Without Women

Page 214.
The kind of unsettled feeling the newly deceased bring on is highly contagious.

Page 220.
Suddenly one day you become Men Without Women. That day comes to you completely out of the blue, without the faintest of warnings or hints beforehand. No premonitions or foreboding, no knocks or clearing of throats. Turn a corner and you know you’re already there.

Page 223.
Once you’ve become Men Without Women, loneliness seeps deep down inside your body, like a red-wine stain on a pastel carpet. No matter how many home ec books you study, getting rid of that stain isn’t easy. The stain might fade a bit over time, but it will still remain, as a stain, until the day you draw your final breath. It has the right to be a stain, the right to make the occasional, public, stain-like pronouncement. And you are left to live the rest of your life with the gradual spread of that color, with that ambiguous outline.
Sounds are different in that world. So is the way you experience thirst. And the way your beard grows. And the way baristas at Starbucks treat you. Clifford Brown’s solos sound different, too. Subway-car doors close in new and unexpected ways. Walking from Omote Sando to Aoyama Itchome, you discover the distance is no longer what it once was. You might meet a new woman, but no matter how wonderful she may be (actually, the more wonderful she is, the more this holds true), from the instant you meet, you start thinking about losing her.

Page 227.
That’s what it’s like to lose a woman. And at a certain time, losing one woman means losing all women. That’s how we become Men Without Women.

The Strange Library Quotes

94I finished reading Haruki Murakami’s short story The Strange Library a couple of weeks ago. It’s an intriguing marriage of Murakami’s trademark magical realism and illustrations collected primarily from the London Library, which evoke and emphasise sections of the prose. The book is far from Murakami’s best, but still contains some dazzling imagery and wondrous excerpts. Below are my favourites from the English hardback published by Harvill Secker.


Page 4.
I knocked. It was just a normal, everyday knock, yet it sounded as if someone had whacked the gates of hell with a baseball bat. It echoed ominously in the corridor. I turned to run, but I didn’t actually take a step, even though I wanted to. That wasn’t the way I was raised. My mother taught me that if you knock on a door, you have to wait there until someone answers.

Page 14.
“Well, well. Here we are,” said the old man. “In you go.”
“In there?” I asked.
“That’s the idea.”
“But it’s pitch black,” I protested. Indeed, inside the door was as dark as if a hole had been pierced in the cosmos.

Page 17.
Why do I act like this, agreeing when I really disagree, letting people force me to do things I don’t want to do?

Page 25.
“Mr. Sheep Man,” I asked, “why would that old man want to eat my brains?”
“Because brains packed with knowledge are yummy, that’s why. They’re nice and creamy. And sort of grainy at the same time.”

Page 28.
A key turned in the lock, and in came a girl pushing a teacart. She was so pretty that looking at her made my eyes hurt. She appeared to be about my age. Her neck, wrists, and ankles were so slender they seemed as if they might break under the slightest pressure. Her long, straight hair shone as if it were spun with jewels. She studied my face for a moment. Then she took the dishes of food that were on the teacart and arranged them on my desk, all without a word. I remained speechless, overwhelmed by her beauty.

Page 37.
“Please, tell me who you are,” I said.
«I am me, that’s all.»
“But the sheep man said you didn’t exist. And besides—”
The girl raised a finger to her tiny lips. I held my tongue.
«The sheep man has his world. I have mine. And you have yours, too. Am I right?»
“That you are.”
«So just because I don’t exist in the sheep man’s world, it doesn’t mean that I don’t exist at all.»
“I get it,” I said. “Our worlds are all jumbled together — your world, my world, the sheep man’s world. Sometimes they overlap and sometimes they don’t. That’s what you mean, right?”
She gave two small nods.

Page 46.
She didn’t answer. Instead, she came close and planted a small kiss on my cheek. Then she slipped through the door and vanished. I sat there on the bed, dazed, for a long time. The kiss had shaken me up so much I couldn’t think straight. At the same time, my anxiety had turned into an anxiety quite lacking in anxiousness. And any anxiety that is not especially anxious is, in the end, an anxiety hardly worth mentioning.

Page 75.
I lie here by myself in the dark at two o’clock in the morning and think about that cell in the library basement. About how it feels to be alone, and the depth of the darkness surrounding me. Darkness as pitch black as the night of the new moon.

Night on the Galactic Railroad Quotes

91I love to read quotes. Even from books I will probably never peruse. One well-worded sentence can conjure the most beautiful and intricate feelings and imagery. Quotes can offer the most stunning vistas of life — granting clarity, comfort and even enlightenment. Last year I complied and posted my favourite quotations from Haruki Murakami’s novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. Today, I want to do the same for Kenji Miyazawa’s most celebrated work — Night on the Galactic Railroad. I finished the book a couple of hours ago and haven’t stopped thinking about it.

Miyazawa lived a fascinating and sadly short-lived life; his outlook on existence and the universe was entirely absorbing and his exploration of two extremities—happiness and death—completely affecting. Below are my favourite quotations from Night on the Galactic Railroad, preceded by the page number they’re located on in the English paperback published by One Peace Books and translated by Julianne Neville. I have also included my favourite excerpts from Miyazawa’s short stories; The Nighthawk Star and Signal and Signal-less, which are also collected in the One Peace Books edition. These can be found below the Night on the Galactic Railroad quotes and are labelled as such.


Night on the Galactic Railroad

Page 54.
Why does Zanelli have to talk to me like that? I’ve never done anything to him. I could easily make fun of him if I wanted to… like about how much he resembles a rat, darting around like that. But I won’t stoop to his level. He’s the fool for being mean for no reason.

Page 56.
The air was crisp and clear that evening and seemed to flow in and out of the storefronts and through the streets like water. All of the streetlights were wrapped with fir and oak branches, and the six plane trees in front of the local electric company were decorated especially lavishly with a number of little lights. Small children, all wearing brand new clothes, were singing songs about the stars and calling out to the constellation Centaurus as they ran along, playing happily and setting off blue magnesium sparklers behind them. In contrast, Giovanni, with his head hung low, seemed almost a foreign object among the celebratory cheer.

Page 59.
The lights of the town below seemed to Giovanni like those of an undersea palace. Even from way up on the hilltop, he could faintly pick up the sounds of children singing. The wind whistled past him, swaying the grass and flowers and cooling the sweat that had soaked his shirt.
Upon hearing the sound of a train somewhere in the distance, Giovanni turned to spy it passing through a field outside of town. As he watched the uniform lights of the train compartments pass by, he imagined the travelers inside, laughing and talking as they peeled apples to eat. This thought made him feel sad, so he turned his eyes back onto the sky above.
So that white expanse up there is really made up of stars?
No matter how long he looked at it, he just couldn’t imagine space being the cold, empty place his teacher had said it was. Actually, the harder he looked, the more he thought he spied a town, farms, and fields, just like the ones around him.
Giovanni watched as the stars within the constellation Lyra flickered faintly in a way that looked as if a leg were being extended before being pulled in again. Finally the lights of Lyra settled into view, while all the other stars in the sky appeared to cluster together to form what looked like a great wisp of smoke snaking down toward the town below.

Page 81.
Suddenly Giovanni was consumed by an intense fondness for the bird catcher. He thought of how joyously the man went about catching the herons and wrapping them up in his parcel, and how childishly surprised and impressed he was upon catching sight of Giovanni’s ticket. Although he had only just met him and didn’t even know his name, Giovanni felt he would do anything for the bird catcher’s sake. If it would bring the bird catcher true happiness, Giovanni wouldn’t hesitate to spend a hundred years catching birds for him in the outer reaches of the Milky Way. Unable to suppress these newfound emotions, Giovanni turned to ask the bird catcher what it was he most desired, though thinking that might seem too direct he was considering a more delicate way to put it. But the bird catcher was no longer in the seat beside him, nor were his parcels in the luggage rack above. Thinking he was outside catching birds again, Giovanni hastily looked out the window, but all he could see was the beautiful riverbed and the white pampas grass, as per usual. The bird catcher’s wide back and pointed hat were nowhere to be seen.
“Where did he go?” Campanella asked faintly.
“I don’t know. Will we see him again? I had something I needed to ask him.”
“So did I.”
“When he first showed up, I felt he was a bother and treated him like one… I regret that now.”
Giovanni had never said such words before, because it was his first time ever feeling this way.

Page 87.
“No one knows what true happiness is, least of all me. But no matter how hard it is, if you keep to the path you deem to be true, you can overcome any mountain. With each step in that direction, people come closer to happiness.”

Page 87.
“To reach the truest happiness, one must make their way through many sorrows.”

Page 93.
Why am I feeling so sad? I want a heart that’s stronger, more pure. If I fix my eyes on those smoky blue flames straight ahead, perhaps I can cleanse my soul.

Page 94.
Is there no one out there willing to be with me for eternity? Look at Campanella, having so much fun talking with that girl. He doesn’t realize how much it hurts me!

Page 95.
What a peaceful place this is… and yet, why is my heart so restless? Why do I feel so alone?

Page 106.
“If it would make people happy, I wouldn’t mind if my whole body burned to ashes.”

Page 107.
“Campanella, let’s…” Giovanni began, but when he turned back toward his friend, he found the seat facing him empty. There was no indication that Campanella had ever been sitting upon the blue velvet upholstery. Giovanni rose from his seat as if propelled by the force of a gunshot, sticking his head out the window and crying out as loud and as hard as he could, enveloped by darkness on all sides.

Page 111.
The water reflected the pattern of the stars above in near perfect clarity, to the point where it almost seemed a second sky had been transplanted onto the earth. Giovanni knew in his heart that Campanella was no longer among them; instead, he was within the cosmos, waiting at the farthest reach.


The Nighthawk Star

Page 13.
“Hey! You home?” the Hawk called out. “I see you’ve yet to change your name. You’re unexpectedly brazen for such a lesser bird! But I’ll have you listen here, now. You and I couldn’t be more different. I can soar anywhere I please within the great blue sky, while you can only come out at dusk, or at best when it’s overcast. And just look at my fine beak and claws! I’m sure you’ll find yours cannot compare.”
“But… Mr. Hawk,” the Nighthawk replied, “how can I change my name? It’s not as if I named myself. My name was given to me, by God.”
“I beg to differ,” retorted the Hawk. “That could certainly be said of my name… that it was given to me by God. But you’ve only borrowed yours — half from me and half from the Night! Now I ask that you return both names to their rightful owners!”

Page 16.
Every night I kill so many insects! And now I am to be killed by the Hawk. Oh, why is it all so trying? So sad… so sad… I’ll stop eating bugs. Let me die of starvation instead. But no… the Hawk will have already slain me. Let me go flying, then… to somewhere far beyond the expanses of the sky.

Page 17.
“Oh, Sun! Great Sun, up above!” he cried out. “Please take me up to where you are! I don’t care should I burn to ashes. Even my ugly body would emit some small sparkle as it burned away. Please… bring me up to where you are!”


Signal and Signal-less

Page 26.
“Signal-less, I have something very important to say. Do take it seriously. For you, I’d do my best to keep my arm from lowering as the ten o’clock train arrived. I’d let it pass clean by.
“You mustn’t!” Signal-less protested.
“Well, of course I won’t. It really wouldn’t be much help for you or for me to do so. The point is, I am willing to, for that is how dear you are to me. You are the most important thing to me in the world. So, please… won’t you love me?”

Page 29.
“Don’t be cruel. How can you ignore me when I might be done in at any moment by either a lightning bolt or an eruption? Or, perhaps, I’ll be knocked over in a grand fashion by a raging storm, or carried away in Noah’s flood… In any case, I’ll be dead. Does that mean nothing to you?”

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki Quotes

41Quotes are one of the aspects that got me so into Haruki Murakami. Before I had even read the majority of his work, I would trawl through the internet reading excepts of his writing, pondering at the meanings and losing myself in the pure poetry of his words. When his novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage was released in English back in August 2014, I thought it would be a good idea to write down any quotes I enjoyed as I read through the book. I finished Colorless in no less than a day and sure enough, there were numerous excerpts I adored. I’ve been sitting on the quotes for over a year now, so I thought why not share them with the internet; there are a couple that probably haven’t made it online yet. And so, here are my favourite quotes from Murakami’s latest work, preceded by the page number they’re located on from the English hardback published by Harvill Secker.


Page 28.
‘Think about it, and you’ll figure it out.’ Ao said, finally.
Tsukuru was speechless. What was he talking about? Think about it? Think about what? If I think any harder about anything, I won’t know who I am anymore.

Page 32.
‘You can hide memories, suppress them, but you can’t erase the history that produced them.’ Sara looked directly into his eyes. ‘If nothing else, you need to remember that. You can’t erase history, or change it. It would be like destroying yourself.’

Page 32.
‘Why are we talking about this?’ Tsukuru said, half to himself, trying to sound upbeat. ‘I’ve never talked to anybody about this before, and never planned to.’
Sara smiled faintly. ‘Maybe you needed to talk with somebody. More than you ever imagined.’

Page 35.
Tsukuru, of course, had no idea what Sara was thinking about. And he didn’t want to reveal to her what was on his mind. There are certain thoughts that, no matter what, you have to keep inside. And it was those kinds of thoughts that ran through Tsukuru’s head as he rode the train home.

Page 39.
Jealousy – at least as far as he understood it from his dream – was the most hopeless prison in the world. Jealousy was not a place he was forced into by someone else, but a jail in which the inmate entered voluntarily, locked the door, and threw away the key. And not another soul in the world knew he was locked inside. Of course, if he wanted to escape, he could do so. The prison was, after all, his own heart. But he couldn’t make that decision. His heart was as hard as a stone wall. This was the very essence of jealousy.

Page 45.
“Ideas are like beards. Men don’t have them until they grow up. Somebody said that, but I can’t remember who.”

Page 54.
‘I’ve made up my mind. I always want to be free. I like cooking, but I don’t want to be holed up in a kitchen doing it as a job. If that happened, I’d end up hating somebody.’
‘Hating somebody?’
‘The cook hates the waiter, and they both hate the customer,’ Haida said. ‘A line from the Arnold Wesker play The Kitchen. People whose freedom is taken away always end up hating somebody. Right? I know I don’t want to live like that.’

Page 56.
‘Can I ask you a question?’ Tsukuru said.
‘Sure.’
‘In different religions prophets fall into a kind of ecstasy and receive a message from an absolute being.’
‘Correct.’
‘And this takes place somewhere that transcends free will, right? Always passively.’
‘That’s correct.’
‘And that message surpasses the boundaries of the individual prophet and functions in a broader, universal way.’
‘Correct again.’
‘And in that message there is neither contradiction nor equivocation.’
Haida nodded silently.
‘I don’t get it,’ Tsukuru said. ‘If that’s true, then what’s the value of human free will?’
‘That’s a great question,’ Haida said, and smiled quietly. The kind of smile a cat gives as it stretches out, napping in the sun. ‘I wish I had an answer for you, but I don’t. Not yet.’

Page 60.
“It’s strange, isn’t it? No matter how quiet and conformist a person’s life seems, there’s always a time in the past where they reached an impasse. A time when they went a little crazy. I guess people need that sort of stage in their lives.”

Page 63.
‘The world isn’t that easily turned upside down,’ Haida replied. ‘It’s people who are turned upside down. I don’t feel bad about missing that.’

Page 69.
“Talent can be a nice thing to have sometimes. You look good, attract attention, and if you’re lucky, you make some money. Women flock to you. In that sense, having talent’s preferable to having none. But talent only functions when it’s supported by a tough, unyielding physical and mental focus. All it takes is one screw in your brain to break down, and your concentration vanishes, like the dew at dawn. A simple toothache, or stiff shoulders, and you can’t play the piano well. It’s true. I’ve actually experienced it. A single cavity, one aching shoulder, and the beautiful vision and sound I hoped to convey goes out the window. The human body’s that fragile. It’s a complex system that can be damaged by something very trivial, and in most cases once it’s damaged, it can’t easily be restored. A cavity or stiff shoulders you can get over, but there are a lot of things you can’t get past. If talent’s the foundation you rely on, and yet it’s so unreliable that you have no idea what’s going to happen to it the next minute, what meaning does it have?”

Page 98.
Tsukuru decided not to pursue it further. He could think about it all he wanted and never find an answer. He placed this doubt inside a drawer in his mind labelled ‘Pending’ and postponed any further consideration. He had many such drawers inside him, with numerous doubts and questions tucked away.

Page 101.
There must be something in him, something fundamental that disenchanted people. ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki,’ he said aloud. I basically have nothing to offer to others. If you think about it, I don’t even have anything to offer myself.

Page 118.
‘People change,’ Sara said.
‘True enough,’ Tsukuru said. ‘People do change. And no matter how close we once were, and how much we opened up to each other, maybe neither of us knew anything substantial about the other.’

Page 122.
Unceasing crowds of people arrived out of nowhere, automatically formed lines, boarded trains in order, and were carried off somewhere. Tsukuru was moved by how many people actually existed in the world. And he was likewise moved by the sheer number of green train cars. It was surely a miracle, he thought – how so many people, in so many railroad cars, are systematically transported, as if it were nothing. How all those people have places to go, places to return to.

Page 156.
“You can hide memories, but you can’t erase history.”

Page 158.
“Talent is like a container. You can work as hard as you want, but the size will never change. It’ll only hold so much water and no more.”

Page 166.
‘I think you just need to be honest with yourself, as much as you can,’ Tsukuru said, choosing his words. ‘All you can do is be as honest and free as you can. I’m sorry, but that’s about all I can say.’

Page 166.
“Kind of a major paradox, wouldn’t you say? As we go through life we gradually discover who we are, but the more we discover, the more we lose ourselves.”

Page 186.
‘Swimming feels wonderful – almost as good as flying through the air,’ Tsukuru explained to Sara one time.
‘Have you ever flown through the air?’ she asked.
‘Not yet,’ Tsukuru said.

Page 188.
Take your time. I can wait, Sara had said. But things weren’t that simple. People are in constant motion, never stationary. No one knows what will happen next.

Page 195.
Being able to feel pain was good, he thought. It’s when you can’t even feel any pain anymore that you’re in real trouble.

Page 195.
Everyone has their own special sound they live with, though they seldom have the chance to actually hear it.

Page 198.
Maybe I am just an empty, futile person, he thought. But it was precisely because there was nothing inside of me that these people could find, if even for a short time, a place where they belonged. Like a nocturnal bird seeks a safe place to rest during the day in a vacant attic. The birds like that empty, dim, silent place. If that were true, then maybe he should be happy he was hollow.

Page 207.
“Some things in life are too complicated to explain in any language.”

Page 210.
The human heart is like a night bird. Silently waiting for something, and when the time comes, it flies straight toward it.

Page 248.
One heart is not connected to another through harmony alone. They are, instead, linked deeply through their wounds. Pain linked to pain, fragility to fragility. There is no silence without a cry of grief, no forgiveness without bloodshed, no acceptance without a passage through acute loss. That is what lies at the root of true harmony.

Page 258.
“We survived. You and I. And those who survive have a duty. Our duty is to do our best to keep on living. Even if our lives are not perfect.”

Page 260.
‘Let’s say you are an empty vessel. So what? What’s wrong with that?’ Eri said. ‘You’re still a wonderful, attractive vessel. And really, does anybody know who they are? So why not be a completely beautiful vessel? The kind people feel good about, the kind people want to entrust with precious belongings.’

Page 260.
“If something is important enough, a little mistake isn’t going to ruin it all, or make it vanish.”

Page 263.
The right words always seemed to come too late.

Page 275.
Our lives are like a complex musical score, Tsukuru thought. Filled with all sorts of cryptic writing, sixteenth and thirty-second notes and other strange signs. It’s next to impossible to correctly interpret these, and even if you could, and then could transpose them into the correct sounds, there’s no guarantee that people would correctly understand, or appreciate, the meaning therein. No guarantee it would make people happy. Why must the workings of people’s lives be so convoluted?

Page 277.
“I’m sorry to have woken you.”
“It’s all right. I’m glad to know that time still keeps on flowing at four in the morning.”

Page 297.
There are countless things in the world for which affection is not enough. Life is long, and sometimes cruel. Sometimes victims are needed. Someone has to take on that role. And human bodies are fragile, easily damaged. Cut them, and they bleed.

Page 298.
He didn’t want to let that feeling slip from his grasp. Once lost, he might never happen across that warmth again. If he had to lose it, he would rather lose himself.