14 September 2015

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

I didn't know this was a collection of short stories until I opened the book to read it. It's done a good job of convincing me the power of short stories.

My collection of quotations is extra long since almost every story had at least a beautiful descriptive paragraph, or a couple lines of profound (to me) truth. Without further ado:

It's like the silence in his right year deepens to the point where it crushes out any sound on the left side.


He stated at the loving fingertips, and the workings of his mind went strangely flat. She seemed to have lifted the edge of the world, and now she was loosening its threads little by little - perfunctorily, apathetically. As if she had to go it no matter how long it might take.

Then her eyes would look like white moons glaring at the edge of a dawn sky - flat, suggestive moons that shimmered at the single cry of a bird at dawn.

It made him think of a small room - a nice, neat room that was a comfortable place to be. It had strings of many colours hanging from the ceiling, strings of different shapes and lengths, and each string, in its own way, sent a thrill of enticement through him. He wanted to pull one, and the strings wanted to be pulled by him, but he didn't know which one to pull. He belt that he might pull a string and have a magnificent spectacle open up before his eyes, but that, just as as easily, everything could be ruined in an instant. And so he hesitates, and while he lingered in confusion another day would end.

I sometimes think that people’s hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what's at the bottom. All you can do is imagine by what comes flaring to the surface every once in a while.


Everything was simple, and direct. Cause and effect were good buddies back then; thesis and reality hugged each other like it was the most natural thing in the world.

Though I might have forgotten some of the details, I distinctly recall the overall tone. When you listen to somebody's story and then try to reproduce it in writing, the tones the main thing. Get the tone right and you have a true story on your hands. Maybe some of the facts aren't quite correct, but that doesn't matter - it actually might elevate the truth factor of the story. Turn this around, and you could say there's stories that are factually accurate yet aren't true at all.

"And when it was all over, the king and his retainers burst out laughing," he finally said. "That line always comes to me
Whenever I remember what happened. It's like a conditioned reflex. It seems to me that very sad things always contain an element of the comical."


Taking on the responsibility for something means offering it salvation

"They tell us that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, but I don't believe that," he said. Then, a moment later, he added: "Oh, the fear is there, all right. It comes to us in many different forms, at different times, and overwhelms us. But the most frightening thing we can do at such times is to turn our backs on it, to close our eyes. For then we take the most precious thing inside us and surrender it to something else."


But as the months went by he lost the ability to recall the things that used to be in the room, the memory of their colours and smells faded away almost before he knew it. Even the vivid emotions he had once cherished drew back, as if retreating from the province of his memory. Like a mist in the breeze, his memories clanged shape, and with each change they grew fainter. Each memory was now the shadow of a shadow of a shadow. The only thing that remained tangible to him was the sense of absence.

His memories had grown indistinct, but they were still there, where they had always been, with all the weight that memories can have.


Gazing at the particles of light in the still space, I struggled to grasp my own feelings. Everyone is looking for something from someone. That much I was sure of. But what comes next, I had no idea. A hazy wall of air rose up before me, just out of reach.


Maybe chance is s pretty common thing after all. Those kinds of coincidences are happening all around us, all the time, but most of them don't catch our attention and we just let them go by. It's like fireworks in the daytime. You might hear a faint sound. But even if you look up at the sky you can't see a thing. But if we're really hoping something may come true, it may become visible, like a message rising to the surface. Then we're able to make it out clearly, decipher what it means. And seeing it before us we're surprised and wonder at how strange things like this can happen.


Junpei fell silent. He has a policy of not talking to anyone about works in progress. That could jinx the story. If he put it into words and those words left his mouth, some important something would evaporate like morning dew. Delicate shades of meaning would be flattened into. Shallow backdrop.

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