"I don't like refrigerators"
What a rubbish day today was, as frustrating and strange as a Murakami story - although to be honest I much preferred the novel. After the Quake is a strange mass of thematically linked short stories that mix reality with the surreal. A little like dating an over grown Peter Pan who vacillates between attentive and dismissive, the collection will draw you in and, like so much of his work, leave you in a small puddle of confusion. That's not to say that this isn't great. I'm a huge fan of his work, possibly because I'm slightly masochistic ( see commentary about dating Peter Pan) but also because his stories are so very different and dream (and sometimes nightmare) like. He seems to mix the hyper real with its opposite and this is no exception. While the Guardian's reviewer saw the stories as reasons for optimism , my interpretation was perhaps a little darker.
There is a continual trope of emptiness, personified in the wife's farewell note in UFO in Kushiro, "living with you is like living with a chunk of air". Reminiscent of someone who continually draws you in then casts you aside because they are devoid of any sense of inner purpose, a ghost that merely performs the function of being there.
Bears and Frogs accompany the earthquake motif and the characters share a sense of distance and remove, even when they are in close proximity.
Only Murakami could do so much in just 132 pages and it certainly bears re-reading.
5 out of 5 times the earth doesn't always shake.