“In that space, the hero lives a thousand lives; that’s Dad.”

September is Dad’s birthday month, which explains why I’m working on a mini-status project over at (my personal) Facebook, to family and close friends: posting something – anything – about Dad, once a day, until his birthday. That’s 27 Dad-related daily entries. Already I’m late in posting my third one ha I’m terrible with these daily commitments, but I just wrote this out – though I had it in mind all day – and thought this in particular, is worth sharing here. Here you go:

Murakami on books_Wind:Pinball
A snippet from the foreword in Wind/Pinball by Haruki Murakami (2015).

Came across this paragraph while reading Murakami‘s latest and it reminded me of a particular memory from childhood with Dad. For a long time throughout childhood, once a month, usually on a Friday, Dad would take us on an adventure: we’d board the train to the Petronas twin towers, home to plenty offices and a fun shopping mall, to spend an afternoon in the largest (only, I believe) Kinokuniya bookstore in Malaysia.

The rule was simple: we could spend however long we wanted – usually 2 to 3 hours – rummaging through any books we fancy and at the end of our visit, we were, each of us, allowed one book for purchase.

Kinokuniya, even then, was usually the go-to bookstore for advanced and limited releases of international books. This was where I picked up (the horror) the Gossip Girl series before it became (the horror) a nationwide sensation; discovered English translated novels by Japanese authors other than Murakami (though my personal fave is still distinctively Haruki Murakami); first came across John Green before he (surprisingly) became a young adult sensation that he is today… you get the idea. These visits were my first portal, access to the greater world – worlds beyond my four-walls, home ground, country borders… It’s not an exaggeration to say that growing up, I read plenty, just about everything (contemporary) – not all were worthwhile reads – and this hobby-turned-habit taught me, truly and deeply, about the magic that lies in written words; how effortlessly stories come alive in these portable, unsuspecting three-dimensional rectangles. Dad was never without them and soon, so were the rest of us.

Growing up with a father who not only loved but also lived the adventures found between folded pages, I learned at my earliest – perhaps before this truth was even fully encapsulated in my young mind – what true wonderland is: bookstores. The secrets they contain are infinite, depending on the beholder.

In that space, the hero lives a thousand lives; that’s Dad.

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6 thoughts on ““In that space, the hero lives a thousand lives; that’s Dad.”

  1. Ah, Murakami. Love his works Wind/Pinball are actually his earliest works, which I’ve yet to get my hands on – waiting for the paperback. Do you have any favourites by him?

    1. Exactly! I kinda love that Wind/Pinball is new-but-really-old, and look forward to reading these works. I haven’t gotten to the stories yet but I will, soon! And faves? AWWW. I absolutely LOVE Norwegian Wood, though South of the Border is extremely close to taking over that spot. (Okay, right now they’re tied). Kafka On The Shores was all kind of mindf*ckery that made for an engaging – kinda tiresome cos it was so… bizarre (for me) – read. I wouldn’t say it’s a fave, yet I wouldn’t say I hated it. I guess I appreciate it? Hahah. I enjoyed Sputnik and Wind-up in bits and pieces -but they’re not faves, to be honest. In general, I love his non-crazy (aka the more normal ones haha) stories, so I did enjoy last year’s Tsukuru too, though I think I have to re-read it (last year’s read was mostly this weird experience because I was too excited he came out with a new book ahaha).

      Wow, that turned out lengthy!! Sorry hahaha. What’s your faves, are ours similar? :)

        1. Oops, I bought The Strange Library recently, haha. Anyway, my favourite is probably Norwegian Wood, such a hauntingly beautiful novel. A very, very close second is Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World, love the two worlds. Also like Dance Dance Dance and A Wild Sheep Chase very much, while South of the Border is intense. Sputnik was pretty good too, as was Wind-Up Bird (albeit a bit heavier than I’d like). Loathe Kafka on the Shore and refuse to read it again. Haven’t read 1Q84 and Colorless Tsukuru yet, hope to get to them soon. I quite like the surreal stuff, so my preference leans towards his earlier works. Short stories are not my thing, but I thought his collection in Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman was pretty decent.

          1. Ugh you said it exactly about NW – “hauntingly beautiful novel.” YES. I reread it just last summer, a little nervous that this older eyes read wouldn’t hold …but it did, it totally did. Ah, now you’ve got me curious about HBW and EoW – but if you’re a bigger fan of his surreal stuff, maybe I ought to mentally prepare myself for more otherworldly, bizarre elements in those two? Not sure if I’m up for that haha but I’m definitely working my way down his list. Sputnik I thought was all over the place, but wasn’t entirely bad. I’m surprised you loathe Kafka!! Why so? Like I said earlier, I don’t entirely fancy it but there’s something fascinating bout that one, to me. 1Q84 I kinda-kinda-not read (read most of Vol 1, skimmed 2 and 3 – wayyy too long) so can’t say if it was /entirely/ good (or bad) ahah. Oh oh, why do you say South is intense? I love it haha, only read it last year right after I reread NW and was genuinely surprised how much I loved it. I think I just felt so strongly that it was tonally similar to NW, but with a kind of ethereal feel – if this makes sense aha – to the overall storytelling? I gotta push Dance3x and AWSC up my list too!!

            (If you end up loving The Strange Library – also tell me why haha cos I just did NOT get the book…)

          2. I think it’s how he constructed the two worlds that got me hooked. I am very fond of and very partial towards The End of the World, while Hard-Boiled Wonderland grew on me after a while. I kinda feel the urge to re-read it! I had some kind of ‘aha’ moment when I finished Sputnik, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what it is now… only that it was a good novel but it wasn’t right up there with the other two. As for Kafka… I felt Murakami did not quite know what he wanted to do with it. I found it very meandering (which usually I have no problems with in his other novels) and I was very put off by some of the characters. I refuse to touch it again with a 100-foot pole. I haven’t read South of the Border after that first time, so what I do remember is quite vague but recall feeling the love story was quite intense, for a Murakami.

            I will let you know what I think of The Strange Library… if I manage to get round to it at all, haha. I also have his non-fiction Underground on the unread list too.

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