A Perfect Day For Kangaroos by Haruki Murakami, 1981
The magic trick:
Brilliant use of simile
Murakami, among his many gifts, is a master of the simile. He has a way of describing something that is effectively vivid, funny and thematic all at once. Consider the simile in this story. The narrator describes the male kangaroo in the cage as “looking like a composer whose talent has run dry…” It’s brilliant, right?
P.G. Wodehouse springs to mind immediately – a writer with an immense gift for comedic comparison. But Murakami is going for something more than mere laughs. He returns to the simile near the end of the story, again describing the kangaroo as “still staring into the feed trough in search of lost notes.” Clearly, this is theme at work here. The reader can take these clues and work out the story’s meaning. This is a couple who hasn’t found time for a baby. This is a man who sees the male kangaroo’s plight as his own – someone who has lost his identity and talent as a result of becoming a father.
That’s a lot of thematic mileage to get out of one simile. And that’s quite a trick on Murakami’s part.
A month before in the local section of the newspaper we’d spotted an announcement of the baby kangaroo’s birth, and ever since then we’d been patiently waited for the perfect morning to pay the baby kangaroo a visit. But somehow the right day just wouldn’t come. One morning it was raining, and sure enough, more rain the next day. Of course it was too muddy the day after that, and then the wind blew like crazy for two days straight. One morning my girlfriend had a toothache, and another morning I had some business to take care of down at city hall. I’m not trying to make some profound statement here, but I would venture to say this:
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A little late to the the party, I guess I should be reading Murakami?