I had read two different stories by him by the time I started reading Men Without Women. Haruki’s stories always took me back to my teenage years. It should not be a surprise since he writes about his own teenage years in his books though his are called fiction, my past had actually had happened. Who knows maybe his fiction is not very fictitious after all.
I was very excited to be reading Men Without Women at first. Every story left me with suspicion of what was to come. Since I only have spare time on my way to work and home from work, those were the only times I could read my books. Every time my stopped was announced, it felt like the story I was reading at the time was screaming, “Finish reading me!”
Now, for some stories I felt so deep down in my spine, I actually missed my stops. Rather, I had to take the train back to my missed stop, which in the end gave me more time to read while waiting for the next train. I never complained. However, some stories made me ask more questions. The one with the snakes for example. I had a dream about it the night I started reading it. I had the second dream when I finished it. Nights followed days, days turned to nights. I finished the book with that one story on a day that I broke up with him. Men Without Women… What a meaningful word order he put them in, combined, wrote and kept writing. You would think it ends there but it does not. Your spine gets tingly, your hands sweaty and your tongue dry. Like a drug addict, you want to read more of his books.
After finishing the last story, I turned to Youtube and Google for some answers. All I could watch was the comments that degraded the author. They made him look very unprofessional and careless about his writing. I have to admit seeing good comments made me very happy. Not all were letting him degraded like that. On the other hand, every bad comment about him made me more furious. I agree that he uses a lot of ancient metaphors at times. However, these books are translated from Japanese. Can we set aside all the “professional writing structures and rules” and feel what he is actually trying to do? After all, by using simple rules he is getting his stories across to millions of people-in which same process he shoots at the center of the heart. Does it not matter at all? I guess it depends on those teenage years one had, how open one’s heart is and whether one looks for beauty or ugly.