‘The Rise And Fall Of Sharpie Cakes’ by Haruki Murakami


The Rise And Fall Of Sharpie Cakes by Haruki Murakami, 1983

The magic trick:

Getting the reader into the story immediately with a naturally welcoming first page

Another Murakami Friday here for your April enjoyment.

When I read Murakami, I feel like writing. He makes it look so easy. The obstacles fall away. The fear vanishes. I think, hey, just be like Murakami, let it flow. Start a story about whatever you want and write it.

Of course it’s far from that simple, but there is such an ease of entry to Murakami’s stories. In “Sharpie Cakes,” it settles into things right away. The narrator saw an odd listing in the newspaper, he attends the advertised seminar, he enters a contest. There is no setup or contextualizing. In this particular case, I should say I was a little disappointed with where the story wound up (the critics are scoundrels, creative freedom is all that matters, blah blah blah). But that’s really not the point. The story welcomes the reader into its world with minimal hassle. And that’s quite a trick on Murakami’s part.

The selection:

It took place in a hotel ballroom, and tea and cakes were served. The cakes, of course, were Sharpies. I tried one, but I couldn’t say I liked it very much. It had a sticky-sweet texture, and the crust was too dry. I couldn’t believe that hip young people would enjoy a sweet like this.

Still, everyone attending the informational meeting was either my age or younger. I was given ticket number 952, and at least a hundred people came after me, which meant there were upward of a thousand people at this meeting. Pretty impressive.

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