This edition of noon features a story to read by Haruki Murakami, called Yesterday. Murakami is one of my favourite authors. Here’s an excerpt from the story:
As far as I know, the only person ever to put Japanese lyrics to the Beatles song “Yesterday” (and to do so in the distinctive Kansai dialect, no less) was a guy named Kitaru. He used to belt out his own version when he was taking a bath.
Is two days before tomorrow,
The day after two days ago.
This is how it began, as I recall, but I haven’t heard it for a long time and I’m not positive that’s how it went. From start to finish, though, Kitaru’s lyrics were almost meaningless, nonsense that had nothing to do with the original words. That familiar lovely, melancholy melody paired with the breezy Kansai dialect—which you might call the opposite of pathos—made for a strange combination, a bold denial of anything constructive. At least, that’s how it sounded to me. At the time, I just listened and shook my head. I was able to laugh it off, but I also read a kind of hidden import in it.
I first met Kitaru at a coffee shop near the main gate of Waseda University, where we worked part time, I in the kitchen and Kitaru as a waiter. We used to talk a lot during downtime at the shop. We were both twenty, our birthdays only a week apart.
You can read the rest on the New Yorker here.
Did you enjoy the story? What do you think about the shift in time? Do you think it has a wistful quality to it (like other stories by Murakami)? Have you read any other work by Haruki Murakami? What’s your favourite? My favourites are probably The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, or Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World, though After Dark holds a special place in my heart because the night-time theme of it reflects parts of my life where I spent a lot of time wandering through the night (literally, not figuratively). I really liked the tenderness in this story, though.
One more thing! If you do live in Ontario, don’t forget to vote today in the provincial elections! Look for your polling station here.