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Almost Transparent Blue [Paperback]

By Ryu Murakami & Nancy Andrew (Translator)
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Item description for Almost Transparent Blue by Ryu Murakami & Nancy Andrew...

Almost Transparent Blue is a brutal tale of lost youth in a Japanese port town close to an American military base. Murakami?s image-intensive narrative paints a portrait of a group of friends locked in a destructive cycle of sex, drugs and rock?n?roll. The novel is all but plotless, but the raw and often violent prose takes us on a rollercoaster ride through reality and hallucination, highs and lows, in which the characters and their experiences come vividly to life. Trapped in passivity, they gain neither passion nor pleasure from their adventures. Yet out of the alienation, boredom and underlying rage and grief emerges a strangely quiet and almost equally shocking beauty. Ryu Murakami?s first novel, Almost Transparent Blue won the coveted Akutagawa literary prize and became an instant bestseller. Representing a sharp and conscious turning away from the introspective trend of postwar Japanese literature, it polarized critics and public alike and soon attracted international attention as an alternative view of modern Japan.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   128
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.25" Height: 7.5"
Weight:   0.42 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 11, 2003
Publisher   Kodansha International
ISBN  4770029047  
ISBN13  9784770029041  

Availability  0 units.

More About Ryu Murakami & Nancy Andrew

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Ryu Murakami is the best-selling author of more than a dozen novels and the winner of Japan's prestigious literary award, the Akutagawa Prize. Many of his novels have been made into movies, including Audition. He lives in Japan.

Ryu Murakami was born in 1952.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Almost Transparent Blue?

surprisingly good  Jul 26, 2008
I'm not much of a contemporary fiction reader, but this was a suprisingly good book.
I probably wouldn't recommend it for everyone as you would have to be into the raw underground prose of the 60s and 70s but this is definitely a book I will re-read at some point in time.

It's relatively short-took me three hours to get through-yet is not lacking in depth.
Beautiful  Jul 16, 2008
Ryu Murakami is one of my favorite authors. He portrays beauty in ways that few see using his talent for detailed imagery. While this book is incredibly short, and also very easy to read, this book as produced more thought for me than most. This book blew my mind.
Observations, experiences and reflections  Nov 8, 2007
19 year olds, Tokyo, 1970's, drugs, Hendrix, velvet, foreigners, sexual exploration, mixed races, desire, lust, racism, being ignored, escapism, fantasy, obsession, insects, weather, vague, incomplete, amazement, violence, flashbacks, pineapples, relationships, indirect, observations, loneliness, fear, strange experiences, pain, violence, and reflection. The book has this and more. It is easy to see why this is a favourite of Japanese college students. Murakami's descriptions, characters and observations provide insight into a less known side of life. Almost transparent blue, a creative, imaginative adventure through the eyes of the main character, Ryu.
May be more than you bargained for...which could be good or bad  Jan 8, 2007
Porn-like with bloody needles and every forty pages or so a pause for an "epiphany". Not the "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" epiphanies, which intimated the real thing as well as words can be expectd to, but the feeling of drug hazes, a chance to rest from the intensity of the main story and perhaps make it all seem of socially redeeming value. But does transcendence have socially redeeming value any more than drug and sex escapisms do? May depend on what you make of silver negligees. Almost no one here seems to have a job except for the cops and the serviceman but the former might be better occupied with real criminals and the latter are off-duty. It may be that only the nurses, as always, do necessary work. The character Ryu and his friends seem also in need of psychologists but there is no context in the book of how the characters became this way or of how they may find help before self-destructing.

Forceful writing, for sure. Seemed somewhat choppy but that may have helped move it along quickly.

"Almost Transparent Blue" is not at the level of Burroughs either in style or at all for the issues raised. It's probably asking way too much to expect that. Burroughs "Naked Lunch" and his trilogy "The Cities of the Red Night", "The Place of Dead Roads" and "The Western Lands" have plenty of sex and drugs, if that is what you are after, but with broad contexts and much deeper explorations of how it connects to all of us. No one may have understood and expressed the role of addictions in social control the way Burroughs did. But it seems unfair to compare Murakami with Burroughs based on just this first and short novel of Murakami, so you may want to read later and longer works (e.g. "Coin Locker Babies" and "In the Miso Soup")

It's hard to tell when reading "Almost Transparent Blue" whether one should feel sad or manipulated. I wasn't comfortable with Ryu the character or Ryu the author. Maybe comfort isn't the point. Maybe Murakami is effectively raising social concerns and without glossing over the creepiness of what can happen.

For a less shocking, probably more compassionate and more fully developed presentation of youths lost amidst drugs and sex that don't go off the deep end as Murakami (and Burroughs) may seem to do, I suggest Frank Daniels "futureproof", which still lingers with me constructively a year after I read it.

P.S. Murkami directed a 1980 Japanese movie derived from this novel but apparently tamer. It was nominated for a best sound award by the Japanese Academy. I'll leave it to our imaginations what the well-done sounds were.
A 1970's Japanese junky "family"   Apr 8, 2005
John Steinbeck's "Tortilla Flat." Henry Miller's "Tropic of Cancer" William S. Burroughs's "Junky." The semi-autobiographical novel of disaffected youth and their abusive love-affairs with drink, drugs and sex is certainly not without literary precedence. Over the years, it has become a genre, one which shocks people with its honestly, and lures with its romanticism of the life of a fringe wastrel, who looks no further than the next drink or fix, living life in pursuit of pleasure.

Joining their ranks is "Almost Transparent Blue," the debut novel by Japanese virtuoso Ryu Murakami. This first novel, written while still in collage, won the prestigious Akutagawa award and skyrocketed Murakami to fame and financial independence. Telling the semi-connected tales of young junkies Ryu, Kazuo, Yoshiyama, Moko, Reiko, and Kei, the book is a decent into the underbelly of 1970's Japan, fresh with Jimmy Hendrix music, exotic black men from the local military base, and the numbness of emotion that comes from living in a drug-haze.

Like his predecessors, Murakami has detailed the life of the Bohemian as an attractive and repulsive existence. Attractive, due to the seductiveness of a life lived for base pleasure, animalistic sex and a constant supply of drugs. Repulsive, in the vomit and blood and pain that of necessity accompanies such a lifestyle. You wonder which characters will escape, which ones will die, and how much of this did Murakami experience first hand. He never makes it quite clear, naming the lead character "Ryu" after himself, and leaving the reality of the elusive "Lily" up in the air with the last paragraph.

Very much a product of its time, both the music and the stereotypical "otherness" of the black people are striking time stamps. Unfortunately, the translation is dated too. With Japanese literature, you can always tell how old a translation is by how the translate tofu. Here, it is called "bean curd," since tofu had not entered the standard English language yet. Also, some strange choices were made by the translator, such as changing Kei's Osaka dialect into an American Southern accent.

However, flaws aside, "Almost Transparent Blue" is a powerful milestone in Japanese literature, and a good book as well. A short, quick read, it will linger long after the last page is read.

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