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Sixty-Nine [Paperback]

By Ryu Murakami & Ralph F. McCarthy (Translator)
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Item description for Sixty-Nine by Ryu Murakami & Ralph F. McCarthy...

Along with his reputation as the enfant terrible of Japanese literature, internationally-acclaimed author Ryu Murakami, one of the "two Murakamis" (along with Haruki), has acquired cult status among readers who appreciate his agile imagination, mordant prose and laser-like eye for the often-absurd details of modern life.
With Sixty-Nine, available now for the first time in an English-language trade paperback, this literary bad boy steps out of character with delightful results. Here is a lighthearted, funny tale about a group of students struggling to make sense of a rapidly-changing Japan in the late 1960s. But Murakami never loses his sharply perceptive view of the world, as he tells his coming-of-age story.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   191
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 17, 2006
Publisher   Kodansha International
ISBN  4770030134  
ISBN13  9784770030139  

Availability  0 units.

More About Ryu Murakami & Ralph F. McCarthy

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 > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > English
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Short Stories > Anthologies

Reviews - What do customers think about Sixty-Nine?

Funny but serious and uncondescending  Dec 2, 2007
69 is one of my favorite coming-of-age stories. It contains few enough "insight moments" to remain digestible. But there is something to think about, laugh at, admire, or learn on nearly every page.

I'm not sure how much of the book is based on actual events in Murakami Ryu's life, but the story was realistic enough to keep me engaged. Murakami does a great job injecting humor into the first-person narrative, which also serves to develop the main character of Ken. There is a clear pattern: every 10 pages or so, Ken claims he did something sensible, then contradicts himself with "of course that wasn't the case. Instead, I ______."

Without patronizing the reader, Murakami also touches on subjects like national identity, group membership and influences, Japanese culture, and social biases. Though a quick read 69, is thought-provoking and, to me, very effective in setting up several archetypal characters and subsequently refining some while showing the changes of others. As this mirrors real life - some people change while others seem to be older versions of their younger selves - the character studies in 69 are highly compelling.

I highly recommend 69, especially to those interested in Japan or fans of Murakami Haruki or Natsuo Kirino.
Power to the Imagination!  Jun 3, 2006
Mention the name Ryu Murakami and there are usually visions of nihilism, self-destructive sex and drugs, and a dismal portrait of the scum-encrusted shadow world of the rebellious youth of Japan. After all, this is the author of the novel that spawned the film "Audition" and who wrote the infamous opening lines of "Coin Locker Babies," "The woman pushed on the baby's stomach and sucked its penis into her mouth; it was thinner than the American menthols she smoked..." Pure punk rock on page. No future. So, pick up a book titled "69," the fourth book translated into English by the prolific author, and your expectation is...

...anything but this. Anything but a brilliant, light-hearted, fast-paced trip through the lazy hazy days of the Summer of 69, a time of unprecedented freedom when a guy and his good buddies could throw together a band, a rock festival, and maybe a little bit of student rebellion all for the hope that the prettiest girls in school might be just a little more impressed with them and let them in on that magic secret they keep under their skirts. Don't get me wrong, this is still punk rock, but this is punk rock before it got a name, and still had the skin of innocence and the youthful sheen of tearing things down with hope for a better future. This is just fun.

As he did in "Almost Transparent Blue," Murakami has stitched together his own past with a dream of idealized youth, creating a believable world of kids giving full reign to their impulses, free from the controlling influence of authority. His protagonist in "69," Kensuke Yazaki, didn't exactly just get his first real six-string at the 5 and Dime, but he is the drummer for a garage band that plays the latest Stones and Cream, although they have never had a real gig. He drops quotes of Rimbaud poetry and recommends counter-culture books, although he has never actually read them. He would totally smoke marijuana if he knew how to get any, and he would totally join in on the Free Love movement if any girl would let him.

But Yazaki is a small-town kid, and while he can read about the goings on in San Francisco and even Tokyo, maybe fantasize a bit, his own little backwater town isn't exactly bursting into the future. He's not going to let that stop him, though. He's got a plan, he's got a buddy, and he's got a girl to impress. He's seventeen years old, its the summer, and the year is 1969. Its time to do something stupid, something outrageous, and have a good time.

Ryu Murakami shows his range with "69." He is a lot more than the dark shadow of modern Japanese literature, much more than the Batman to Murakami Haruki's Superman. Most of all, he sums up what it means to be young all in one line. "Victory went to whoever had the most fun." Amen.
a light-hearted comedy uncharacteristic of Murakami, but ultimately worth a read.  Mar 20, 2006
69 is a light-hearted comedic novel unlike the other three translated novels by the same author, and should not be compared side-by-side with their heavy postmodern themes.

Instead, 69 offers the viewpoint of a youth born in a small Japanese town influenced by western movements of that time, in particular the avant-garde, the political situation and the music of that time. Combining politicos, yakuzas, greasers, rock musicians who only knew how to sing "dontcha know" and play three chords and your average high-schooler, Ryu Murakami has captured a perfect snapshot of youth.

Possible themes involve the concept of American occupation of Japan during that time, Japanese youth and their fickle-minded apathy (combined with a short attention span), but these are only painted with broad strokes as the narrative refuses to dwelve further into these possible issues, although one can guess the author's viewpoint on these issues through their passing mention thereof.

Nonetheless, the time and themes in this novel are immaterial. This novel is skillfully rendered, hilariously portrayed, and light-hearted enough to illicit a laugh from even the most gloomy postmodernists. In the pursuit for heavy meanings, perhaps we have overlooked what 69 represents: it is the beauty of youth that is meant to be lived-- instead of wasted-- that truly counts beneath the mish-mash of social groups presented in this novel.
Pure fun  May 30, 2005
Although it's not fair to compare Ryu and Haruki Murakami simply because they share the same family name, I couldn't help but feel that "69" was Ryu's "Norwegian Wood." In both stories (interestingly, both were written in 1987 about the year 1969!), the authors take a break from their normal styles and write semi-autobiographical works about their school days. At the same time, it would be a mistake to consider both works fundamentally different from the authors' other works--"Norwegian Wood" is essentially Haruki's other stories without the Sheep Men and mysterious wells, "69" is the essence of Ryu's other works, sans the acid trips and coin lockers.

Ryu's message is simple: You win in life by having fun. Whereas Haruki's protagonists are coolly detached (the main character in Norwegian Wood watches the college demonstrations impassively), Ryu's are fiercely proactive--it's Ken that starts the trouble at his school. Although Ryu finishes "69" with a slightly bittersweet ending, the vast majority of the book is about having fun. Rebellion vs. authority, beauty vs. ugliness, extroverts vs. introverts: "69" has few grey areas. Some people might criticize this lack of complexity as a sign of immaturity, but for me it was refreshing to read a book as optimistic and frank as this one.

"69" will bother people aching for hidden meanings (why do people get bothered when an author actually says plainly what he means?) or some kind of bildungsroman formula involving personal growth (Ryu captures the energy and unabashed egoism of a 17 year old perfectly, rather than burdening Ken with some kind of post-modern angst). But really, who cares? Have fun reading this book!
Amsing, but Audition it ain't.  Mar 20, 2004
Ryu Murakami, 69 (Kodansha, 1987)

Murakami (no relation to Wind-Up Bird author Haruki Murakami, by the way) is (or bloody well should be) best known in the west for writing the novel upon which Takashi Miike's most astounding film, Audition, is based. (It has recently been translated into English. Miike fans, rejoice.) He first came to the attention of the horror underground, though, with a book called Coin Locker Babies, which, as it turns out, is very difficult to find these days. In fact, I put in a request for it at the library and instead ended up with this odd, fun, rather beguiling little novel instead. (Coin Locker Babies is still, it seems, missing in action. I put in another request for it. We'll see what happens.)

Obviously autobiographical in nature (set in the town where Murakami was born, with a protagonist the same age he was at the time, etc.), but one wonders if any writer this side of Fannie Flagg is capable of writing himself with such a jaundiced eye. Ken Yazaki is seventeen in 1969, utterly bored with school (and horrified at the idea of going on to med school, which he has been studying for), grabbing every attempt he can to latch himself into the American-inspired underground culture, and the most unreliable narrator this side of the guy sitting next to you at the lunch counter telling you about the five-foot bass that got away. In order to facilitate getting laid, he and his best friend, Iwase, decide they want to put on an avant-garde festival (Americans old enough to remember the sixties, think "happening" here); music, film, drama, art, poetry, you name it. To this end, Ken ropes in a serious, diplomatic chap named Adama, and the three of them set out to start making music, film, drama, etc. Along the way, they get caught up in the protest of the Vietnam War, leading to an idea to blockade the school.

Most of the time, you just end up shaking your head and wondering what is going through this kid's mind. But as the novel progresses (and this could be used as a textbook for the writing 101 tenet that in order for a book to work, the lead character must change in some way), we get more insight into what's going on in Ken's head. Whether that's because he's discovering it himself or just more willing to reveal his thoughts is left to the reader to decide. As we get more insight into Ken, the book becomes better, so the first few chapters may drag some. Stick with it, this is fun stuff. The plot is just scatterbrained enough to work (and to his credit, once Murakami gets Ken onto one track, he does tend to hold it to its logical conclusion), the characters are engaging, and the book ends up being a lot of fun. Not your usual coming of age tale. ***

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