The release date for the English version of Haruki Murakami’s much anticipated new book – 1Q84 – is today. When I searched my local library for his writing, I found 122 citations – most not written in English. And 1Q84 was there – in Japanese and Chinese; the book is a bestseller in Asia and a possible Nobel Prize in literature nominee.

In his interview of Murakami for the New York Times Sunday magazine, Sam Anderson adds to the drama and the mystique of The Underground Man – with a view of  “The Fierce Imagination” of the author.

Murakami’s books offer mystery and magic, sometimes with help from the supernatural.

“…the signature pleasure of a Murakami plot is watching a very ordinary situation (riding an elevator, boiling spaghetti, ironing a shirt) turn suddenly extraordinary (a mysterious phone call, a trip down a magical well, a conversation with a Sheep man)…

The title 1Q84 is a nod to Orwell’s 1984; the number nine in pronounced like a “Q” in Japanese.

The plot, according to Anderson:

“…a young woman named Aomame (it means green peas”) is stuck in a taxi, in a traffic jam, on one of the elevated highways that circle the outskirts of Tokyo. A song comes over the taxi’s radio: a classical piece…the taxi driver finally suggests…an unusual escape route…secret stairways to the street that most people aren’t aware of {but}…’things are not what they seem.’ if she goes down, he warns, her world might suddenly change forever. She does, and it does…”

Sounds like fun to read. I’m reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle to warm up to this author while I’m waiting for the book.

Have you read any books by Murakami?

‘Hey, World, This Crazy Thing Happened Where Someone Put Me in A Book!’

I never liked Elizabeth Gilbert or her self-aggrandizing promotion in her popular book, Eat, Pray, Love, but I was happy she gave Julia Roberts a vehicle to entertain.  In this case, the movie was better than the book.

But when I read Sam Anderson’s review of Luca Spaghetti’s memoir, Un Amico Italiano, in the New York Times Magazine, I had some laugh out loud moments.  Here was someone who agreed that Gilbert’s book was “cutesy (with) Snapple-cap wisdom.”  Anderson’s tongue-in-cheek review of the adventures of the man who toured Gilbert around Rome on a motorbike not only validated my assessment of her book, but actually inspired me to seek out Spaghetti’s – his real name?

Spaghetti is a tax accountant, and should probably keep his day job.  He follows Gilbert’s model and haltingly tells his story in three parts – growing up in Rome, going to America, and back in Rome with “Liz” – eating.

Read Anderson’s essay instead – funny, irreverent, and articulate.

Sam Anderson’s Eat, Pray, Love, Repeat                                                                                       Bonus Feature: Sternbergh on ‘Reading Sam Anderson’s Essay’