Reader reviews for After the Quake: Stories

As a first time reader of Murakami--I'm seeing why people seem to like him a lot. This is a pretty solid effort throughout. The stories are all well imagined--have great tone and are excellently paced. Whether it's bonfires, a trip to Thailand or a Superhero oversized frog or even a love affair that takes many years to finally get off the ground all of the stories are insightful with touches of humor and pathos. It was very enjoyable and I expect that there will be more Murakami books in my future.
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Six stories, all relating to an earthquake in one way or another. It's an interesting way to tie a collection together and the stories work well together, although they cover a wide range of subjects.
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A fairly slight (a just over 100 pages) collection of short stories - this is really one for the Murakami completist rather than the casual reader. I'm not a huge short story fan anyway. A couple of the stories could have been expanded to form the basis of a novel, but most just kind of drifted by.
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A book with an oddly prescient title after recent events. Murakami is not up to form here - the stories here just seem flat and ordinary. Murakami can pull off 'ordinary' stories fairly well (see Norwegian Wood) but many of these were just lackluster. Most of the stories are kind of forgettable (I can barely recall any details about them, merely hours after I read the book), and the only one which stands out is the charming and wonderful story about the giant frog. That one alone redeems the entire collection.
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A slim volume of lovely stories by one of my favorite writers. Each one deals peripherally with the Kobe earthquake, yet all the characters suffer the same feeling of loneliness, questions of self-identity, and purpose. Gems in this book: Honey Pie and Super-Frog Saves Tokyo.
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While I found The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle to be meandering, these stories show exactly how good Murakami is. His stories are weird, wonderful and enlightening. I may have to reread this now after the tragedy in New Orleans. It seems appropriate.
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Six wonderful but sad stories about the wide-ranging effects of a huge event (in this case the Kobe earthquake of 1995) and the emptiness of the human soul. Book ends on a carefully optimistic note.
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Each of the short stories in the excellent "After the Quake" are linked to the terrible earthquake that shook Kobe in Jan'95. Although none are actually set in Kobe, the epicentre of the devastation, allusions to the disaster flit briefly into the radar of each story before quickly dipping out of sight again. Though the characters in these haunting stories are far removed from the scene of the tragedy, the earthquake, nonetheless, reverberates in subtle ways deep into their troubled lives.In "Landscape With Flat Iron", Junko, a young woman, enjoys the company of Miyake, a forty-something painter who lights midnight beach bonfires stacked from driftwood. Miyake can look at fires in the way "a sculptor can imagine the pose of a figure hidden in a lump of stone." Gazing at the shapes the bonfire makes elevates Junko to a higher plane of being where revelations and deeper truths come to her. . . . . similar revelatory moments are experienced in "All God's Children Can Dance" by Yoshiya - he has been following the man he thought was the father he has been searching for - as he stands on the pitchers mound in a deserted baseball pitch bathed in the light of a huge moon. . . . . In "Thailand", a female doctor on vacation, soured and embittered by a divorce, is driven by her chauffeur to see an old woman who informs her, "There is a stone inside your body ...You must get rid of the stone." . . . . . The earthquake is perhaps more central to "Super Frog Saves Tokyo" than it is in other stories. A giant frog enlists Kalagiri's help to save Tokyo from a gigantic worm that causes earthquakes when it's angry. Frog says earthquakes make people realise how fragile the ordinary world - in this case the city of Tokyo - really is. Murakami here, is referring not just to the fragile physical environment but also to the fragility of emotional rocks such as love, marriage, the family unit, friendships that underpin our inner lives."Honey Pie", the last and best story (IMO), is also the most conventional. Junpei, too shy to move in on Sayoko, his heart's desire, loses out in the marriage stakes to the more forward Takasaki, his best friend. Sala, the young child of the marriage, deeply fears "the earthquake man". When Sayoko and Takasaki later divorce, Junpei, who has remained close to them, is still unable to express his undying love for Sayoko. He tells Sala a story to ease her mind about "the earthquake man"...If you enjoy these unconventional short stories, often containing elements of realism and surrealism, and often with no neatly wrapped-up endings, then you may wish to try another Murakami short-story collection, "The Elephant Vanishes".
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Maybe it is the mark of an author at the top of his game when he can write a set of short stories where little or nothing actually happens in most, but can give the reader a feeling that they know characters in such a short space of time. Most of the characters here are Murakami's staple - introspective and introverted - and some stories still have his trademark surrealism (especially Super-Frog saves Tokyo).Not the great "Kafka on the Shore" Murakami, or the equally brilliant "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle" Murakami, but far better than the "Elephant Vanishes" Murakami.Definitely a good read, albeit a little short at 130 pages.
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After having this book on my wishlist for years, where do I finally find a copy? A library is moving to a smaller facility and is forced to purge its shelves of many extraneous books. A near perfect copy except for gigantic Magic Marker slashes through library information and a big W/D on the inside cover. Murakami takes his usual route through the world of the unusual, but the route always seems purposeful though precarious and strange.
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