Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Forgotten how to dream (Books - I Haven't Dreamed of Flying for a While by Taichi Yamada)

I Haven't Dreamed of Flying for a While is a real surprise. If Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote in Japanese...I'm repeating myself, I know, but magical realism is the shoe that fits. It's very hard to write about this interesting little book without giving its surprise away. I said a lot of what can be said in my first post. Man had a nervous collapse, stuck in a dead-end job, is recovering in the hospital from a broken leg and has a premonition of a train crash, followed by the real thing. This means that many casualties arrive at the hospital and he must share a room with another patient, a woman, and this encounter changes his life. That's all I can tell you about the plot if you are to enjoy the pleasures of discovery I did, which is only fair. Both of these characters ideas of what their lives should be like are shaken to the core. Now jump to the end of the spoiler alert if you don't want the plot revealed.
**SPOILER ALERT** For those of you who don't care, this book shares a plot idea with a film I saw this weekend The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a recent film adaptation of a short story of F. Scott Fitzgerald with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. It's a crap film actually, lugubrious story telling, has to show you everything, and has never met a cliche it didn't like. So what's the plot, you are wondering - getting younger. The woman in the hospital bed and Brad Pitt's character in the film both move backward in age. A film, being a largely visual medium, and contemporary film being largely about tricks, makes this all about makeup. Yawn. Pitt is already an actor who has trouble getting to himself, not that he doesn't try, but this emphasis renders him all but empty. ** ALERT OVER** In a book, this device becomes an excuse to go deep and explore the interior lives of these people - their expectations of themselves, their disappointments. Their unusual encounter in the hospital leads each of them to be able to reveal themsleves to each other. These are people who have forgotten how to dream. This fantastical happening, known only to each of them, creates a kind of intimacy through which they both get a chance to rediscover their vulnerability and they take it, they live a life in that dream, whatever the cost. The book has an unusual poetry and admits the reader to a singular world. I really enjoyed reading it.

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