Scheherazade

PDF EBook by Haruki Murakami

EBook Description

There I was, on vacation in Florida, when I received the email from The New Yorker with “stories to enjoy during the holiday. Scheherazade PDF EBook” Sure, as if I needed more stories to add to the ever- PDFgrowing list. But the stories were right there, just a fingertip away on my iPad, and they were free. So I did what any other story addict would do: I opened the email and clicked the first link. Up popped Haruki Murakami. I didn’t know what to think about this. Was I to read another Murakami, only to become frustrated with the translation and story again, and in turn, feel as if I was downgrading the prized Murakami storytelling, just as I felt I did after reading, The Elephant Vanishes? No thanks. And then I saw these first two lines: “Each time they had sex, she told Habara a strange and gripping story afterward. Like Queen Scheherazade in ‘A Thousand and One Nights.’”

He had me at the first five words.

I haven’t read the original version of this story, but if it’s anything like Lahiri’s New Yorker version of “Sexy,” or Adichie’s “Birdsong,” you know that the translation has been fine tuned through some copious editing. I remember an instance in a graduate writing workshop, when we went over the form of Lahiri’s “Sexy.” That day, one of my workshop mates tried to follow along with the actual short story collection, but soon, we were all fascinated when we realized that The New Yorker’s version was shorter and a better read.

You start by thinking this story is about Habara, the male narrator trapped in his home and his mind, until you realize that it is about the woman he calls, Scheherazade.You see her through Habara’s eyes, you see her in his bed. You see her as a thirty-five-year old woman, and as a seventeen-year-old girl. There is also the story of her past, which tells you that she too, is a mental prisoner.

“She was a lamprey eel in a former life,” she tells him as they lay in bed. Lamprey eels have suckers, “which they use to attach themselves to rocks at the bottom of a river or lake. ”They float there, just waiting to attach themselves to something (or somebody if you’re looking at this in symbolic terms). Once they spy a trout, “they dart up and fasten on to it with their suckers. Inside their suckers are these tonguelike things with teeth, which rub back and forth against the trout’s belly until a hole opens up and they can start eating the flesh, bit by bit.” (Note to self: rethink ordering eel for sushi).

Scheherazade attaches herself to Habara and he to her, and it makes you wonder if she, the eel, is determined to suck something out of him. No pun intended. She tells him:
Lampreys think very lamprey-like thoughts. About lamprey-like topics in a context that’s very lamprey-like. There are no words for those thoughts. They belong to the world of water. It’s like when we were in the womb. We were thinking things in there, but we can’t express those thoughts in the language we use out here.

Scheherazade is a surface idiosyncratic but beneath it all, you sense she is more and so you wait for something disastrous to happen. Yet nothing does happen. Or does it? Is this layered suggestiveness Murakami’s way of giving his readers the power of ending a story for themselves? Sure, Scheherazade was a stalker in her past, an obsessive person who was so fatally attracted to someone, she broke into his home to smell his dirty sweatshirts, but what of the present?

This is a story of companionship and void sexual encounters, where the backstory informs the main story and pulls you along for the ride: “their lovemaking and her storytelling were so closely linked, making it hard to tell where one ended and the other began.” At its core, it is about a man who is losing his freedom and fearful that someday, when he loses it completely, he will lose what he cherishes the most: the companionship of a woman. You don’t read this story and take a break; download; you read it in gulps, because this is the way Murakami intended.
Like this book? Read online this: Redefining the Strong-Willed Woman, I racconti di Pietroburgo.

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