The Kidney-Shaped Stone That Moves Every Day by Haruki Murakami, 2005
The magic trick:
Centering the protagonist’s conflict and story around a fairy-tale motif
Great advice from the protagonist’s father in this one. “Among the women a man meets in his life, there are only three that have real meaning for him. No more, no fewer.”
The son – our protagonist – of course immediately begins obsessing on this idea, approaching every relationship as a potential inclusion into his trinity.
As you can imagine, it wears on him. This is not a particularly healthy way to approach love. But it sure casts a magical spell about the story. It gives the whole thing a fairy-tale, three-wishes kind of vibe. And that’s quite a trick on Murakami’s part.
Whenever Junpei met a new woman after that, he would ask himself, Is this a woman who has real meaning for me? and the question would call forth a dilemma. For even as he continued to hope (as who does not?) that he would meet someone who had ‘real meaning’ for him, he was afraid of playing his few remaining cards too early. Having failed to join with the very first important Other he encountered, Junpei lost confidence in his ability – the exceedingly important ability – to give outward expression to love at the appropriate time and in the appropriate manner. I may be the type who manages to grab all the pointless things in life but lets the really important things slip away. Whenever this thought crossed his mind – which was often – his heart would sink down to a place devoid of light and warmth.
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