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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

A mindbending new collection of short stories from the unique, internationally acclaimed author of Norwegian Wood and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.

The eight masterly stories in this new collection are all told in the first person by a classic Murakami narrator. From nostalgic memories of youth, meditations on music and an ardent love of baseball to dreamlike scenarios, an encounter with a talking monkey and invented jazz albums, together these stories challenge the boundaries between our minds and the exterior world. Occasionally, a narrator who may or may not be Murakami himself is present. Is it memoir or fiction? The listener decides. 

Philosophical and mysterious, the stories in First Person Singular all touch beautifully on love and solitude, childhood and memory...all with a signature Murakami twist.

©2021 Haruki Murakami (P)2021 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about First Person Singular

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Profile Image for Cristina Schek
  • Cristina Schek
  • 14-04-2021

Struggled with the narrator

Found it very difficult to focus because of the narration. Previous narrators were fabulous, why change them for a non- native English speaker?



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  • NJB
  • 23-05-2021

like meeting a friend in Japan

I saw some criticism of the narrator, and my first impression was the same but then I wondered if I should think about the book in a different way. rather than being a professional narration I thought about it more like having message someone in a bar in Osaka and them telling me these stories. once I thought it that way I started to really enjoy the book and appreciate a style of narration. the book itself is ok an interest and honest series of insight into the mind of murakami. this may not be what you want but for me it was gentle and honest and thought provoking

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  • John Burns
  • 28-04-2021

Yaaaaawn.

Seems like this guy can just bang anything he wants out these days and it`ll sell just because his name`s on it. The talking monkey story is a little bit interesting, but hardly a work of genius. The rest of it is just like listening to someone ramble on about random events in their life that aren`t even that interesting. If this had been released under a different name, no-one would be saying things like, `stunning`, etc. It`d probably just sink without trace like the turd you let go this morning. Oh, and the narrator, what`s the opposite of mellifluous? Well, that`s his reading style.

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  • Alex
  • 25-04-2021

Murakami , what more can I say?

As a die hard Murakami fan who has read every book he's written, I'd say I'm biased.
Having said that, I loved these short stories. Not many authors can make every single word feel rightly placed - Murakami does.
Thank you Murakami.

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  • donewiththeusualmusic
  • 04-06-2021

Best Murakami For Some Time

Confession: I am a Murakami addict, owning all the work in English that I can get hold of by him.. although some I don't like so much, while some I love. Murakami's short stories are his best format, in my view: in twenty or so pages he spins out a whole world with the greatest skill, in terms of 'where is this taking me', complex time-structure of the story, immersive language, many currents of thought lying beneath the calm surface.

'First Person Singular' starts and ends with a story about how each of us can deal with the complexities and ambiguities of life - first story offers a way to overcome, last story paints a picture of the awfulness that comes from being overwhelmed. In between, the themes include those that Murakami keeps returning to as essential: ambiguity, dreams vs waking life, memory, time, guilt, connection with others, physicality, death, aloneness, and.. writing. Take 'Charlie Parker Plays Bossa Nova' for example: the narrator recalls writing a spoof review years ago of Charlie 'Bird' Parker coming back from oblivion to make a new recording in a style the opposite of his usual bebop style. The words of that review (repeated in the story) enable us to imagine just such a thing, even though on multiple levels it is impossible - Bird is dead, it's not his style, the record does not actually exist, etc - but in this story, it is possible, thanks to the power of words and the effect they have in our minds as we read. In the few pages of the story, there is a final surprise twist that adds to the question of 'what is being alive, what is being not-alive?' Like all stories here, it seems to me to be a masterpiece - just like Bird's performances - and up there with After The Quake (not on Audible, sadly - why not?) and some of The Elephant Vanishes.

There are a few 'tanka' poems included in On A Stone Pillow, my favourite being: 'The present moment / if it is the present moment / can only be taken / as the inescapable present. In the mountain wind / a head cut off / without a word / June water / at the roots of / a hydrangea'. I'm still puzzling that one out, with multiple possible solutions.

As for the review elsewhere likening these stories to toilet activities.. well, if that's your literary yardstick, no way are you ever going to appreciate these works and you should move on. As Murakami wrote elsewhere: If you can't understand without an explanation, you won't understand with an explanation. I'm saying that these pieces are subtle and nuanced, and you need to be receptive to that in order to enjoy them. Just like with Japanese food. Racy, violent, horrific stories, they ain't.

As for the narration on this recording, yes it is by a Japanese person whose English seems great but not perfect, with some slight mispronunciations here and there, odd stresses, even Western pronunciations of some Japanese words (eg: writer's name akuTAgawa instead of the correct aKUtaGAwa), and so on. But, for me it worked very well, in as much as it strengthened the idea that I was reading/listening to writing from another land where they do things very differently yet still experience the same perplexities of life as we do in the West. He also has a very melodic voice with a pleasing range of tone and without the formulaic cadences that some narrators stick to come what may. Just listen to the sample to decide.

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