After Dark …is Daybreak, Innit?

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“But why should you be interested in me?” “Good question. I can’t explain it myself right this moment. But maybe – just maybe – if we start getting together and talking, after a while something like Francis Lai’s soundtrack music will start playing in the background, and a whole slew of concrete reasons why I’m interested in you will line up out of nowhere. With luck, it might even snow for us.” ― Haruki Murakami, After Dark

 

It’s been over a month since I last read my first ever Haruki Murakami book, After Dark” and I must say the images in that novel still linger in my thoughts. The night time, the empty streets, the shady hotels, the strangers, the jazz… although not considered by many as one of Murakami’s greats, I find this book immensely beautiful and poignant. I’m glad I began with this book and not with The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel or Norwegian Wood, or Kafka on the Shore, although I most definitely intend to read them next. But like all books that move me, “After Dark” will have a special place in my heart because — well, it is about me. Again.

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“M” starring Kang Dong Won


“After Dark” occurs within the hours of the nighttime involving two sisters. One is perennially but most alluringly asleep, and while in deep slumber she is surrealistically and creepily observed by a man through the T.V. screen, who may or may not even be real. Meanwhile the younger sister is in a cafe reading a book with the sole intent of passing the time there ’till morning comes, until she met an acquaintance who struck up a one-sided conversation with her. He turns out to be a trombonist for a band rehearsing at some building’s basement not far from where the cafe was and he was quite taken by Curtis Fuller’s “Five Spot After Dark.” Through this chance meeting the younger sister is pulled from her book-reading plans into an adventure-filled encounter with various sorts of characters — or strangers — throughout the night.

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Paris at Night by Brassai

I love it! It is brilliant! It somehow brings several images in my mind from Kang Dong Won’s magnificently-directed, light-and-mood motivated “M” movie to Brassai’s night photography.

Most importantly, the conversations in the book are just so wonderful! I really enjoyed the exchanges between Mari and Takahashi. She could very well be me while Takahashi could be someone I very well know. In fact, I am that girl in the cafe at night, all alone, book in hand, reading in peace and quiet. I am that girl who agrees to put off reading in solitude to meeting strangers and helping them out with whatever abilities I possess. I am that girl who likes Jazz and feel a deep sense of connection to (or admiration for) anyone who likes it too. I am that girl who would rather stay quiet and listen than contribute to the conversation. I am her.

I am still that girl in a quiet cafe, reading. Alone. Jazz music playing in my ears.

But what makes the whole story even more interesting is the mention of Curtis Fuller’s “Five Spot After Dark.” I love that Murakami is a jazz musician and that he incorporates his love for jazz in his writings because right now, I have become a huge fan of Curtis Fuller! “Five Spot After Dark” is now my new pick-me-up song. It’s such a happy piece that I seem to play it everyday now — when I go to school, when I walk to and from the store to pick up my lunch two streets down from my school, whenever I’m out and about town, just about anywhere!

Not only is Curtis Fuller’s Blues-Ette album in my iPod playlist now, so is Miles Davis (especially his ‘Lift to the Scaffold’), John Coltrane, Art Blakely and the Jazz Messengers and Stan Getz. I now love the sound of trombone and even more so of the bass and the drums.

I look forward to being introduced to more Jazz greats through Murakami and other outlets out there.  But I’m taking it slow for  now; one Jazz-man at a time.

 

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