Book Review – Murakami Ryu “Almost Transparent Blue”

Aw, the silly depravity of youth. How do I count the ways?


What is it to read this book? To imagine a decadence I never experienced…to be young and frivolous, to exchange idealism with nihilism so that I can make my depravity a pool of vomit to swim in.


As I reach out to grab the syringe I’ve never used to shoot up once more words that aren’t heroin, I think about my 17-year-old self. He’s reading “Trainspotting” in a place that doesn’t feel like home, wondering if he can ever go home. He images a 16-year-old self. He’s reading “A Clockwork Orange”, his eyes peeled open by mechanical claws.


I bring out those mechanical claws so that I can see once again the literary uses of bodily juices — semen, vomit, blood, and bile of different colors, purple, brown, green…and Almost Transparent Blue? I’m not sure bile comes in that color.


In order to get to great moments of beauty, we have to be presented with the bile of Mr. Murakami Ryu’s life….a real life? This wasn’t fiction? Was “Trainspotting” fiction? Is this book review fiction?


Ryu Murakami writes:
“I took a fragment of glass about the size of my thumbnail out of my pocket and wiped the blood off it. The little fragment with its smooth hollow reflected the brightening sky. Under the sky stretched the hospital and far away the tree-lined street and the town. The horizon of the shadowy reflected town made a delicate curving line. Its curves were the same, the same as the time I’d almost killed Lilly on the runway in the rain, that white curved line that burned for an instant with the thunder. Like the wave-filled foggy horizon of the sea, like a woman’s white arm, a gentle curve. All the time, since I didn’t know when I’d been surrounded by this whitish curving. The fragment of glass with the blood on its edge, as it soaked up the dawn air, was almost transparent. It was a boundless blue, almost transparent.”


I shouldn’t have typed out those lines. You didn’t work to get there. You didn’t have to read about semen and bile on the way to work. You didn’t have to look on as a security guard was beat half to death and girl was almost beat half to death, and the sex and the orgies, not really erotica — there was nothing sexy about those orgies, just the absurd, awful, depraved depravity of…aw, decadent youth. You reach for a syringe and it’s Ryu Murakami’s youthful literary exploits, or it’s “Trainspotting”, or it’s “A Clockwork Orange”.


Someone said that this was a stream of consciousness…I doubt that this was a stream of consciousness. It seemed more to me like a book. It felt like a book. It could be a stream of consciousness. But I think it was a book. It could have been a diary, it could have been the sound of an airplane or a fly buzzing behind my ear. It could have been a Sunday in May with me staring at a coffee shop worker. She’s wondering what I’m doing…I’m a fly buzzing behind your ear, ma’am. I’m a fly trying to remember what it’s like to be a 17-year-old contemplating the Almost Transparent Blue of love…I just hope that I can get through the other shades of bile to get there.


I reach for a syringe with the latest drug of choice and find this book. I try to turn its pages and it turns me blue.

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