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Reading as Fishing

13 Jan
Kids love to learn which explains ‘why’ being their most uttered word. As a child I rejoiced in both reading (looking at pictures) and fishing, but was unaware how linked the two were. Emerging from my teenage years I shed myself of both. Only now as an adult writer has the passion for reading and fishing returned.

Kids don’t know what they’re looking for. They just want to have fun while they learn and grow. Neither fishing nor reading need a purpose. Sure both take a dose of patience, but much like each new page brought an interesting picture, each reeling delivered an element of surprise. And it didn’t hurt that Grandma and Grandpa had a knack for catching perch off the thousand islands.  

Grandma & Grandpa: The best life coaches a writer could ask for.

As an adult, I never caught anything, and thus found fishing to be rather dull. I equated a dead fish as success. I failed to realize fishing was much like reading. You shouldn’t pick up a book hoping it will change your life, lead you to riches, or motivate you to open Iran’s largest juice bar. Instead, read to enter a parallel universe through someone else’s eyes. Enjoy the act, and if in the end you haven’t caught anything, you’ve atleast spent a morsel of time peacefully adjusting to your surroundings (the fish can disagree with ‘peacefully’).

Perhaps my absence at the fishing pond is due to how I’ve never been much of a reader. I’ve always wanted to tear through the pages of a colorful book, but often 10 pages in I’d become lost, tired, or compelled to take advantage of the 24 hour drive-thru window.

With everything I do, I need a purpose. Since writing is my sole (99%) reason for breathing, reading has recently become an integral consumer of time.

Now when I read I bring along my fishing pole: the hi-liter. Sitting back, looking at the world the author presents me, I’m content catching the quotables from a text much like a fisherman catchs a fish. But there’s need to reel in a prize-winner or any ‘fish’ at all. I just sit my pole by my side and if I get a bite, I highlight that juicy ‘creature’ to digest later.

Recently, I finished Haruki Murakami’s Blind Willow Sleeping Woman, a post-modern collection of surreal short stories. While I enjoyed the hours shaking on a train and snuggled in bed reading it,  the dessert arrived when looking back at all of green highlighted parts. In addition to fulfilled enjoyment I now have a collection of word parades to hang on my metaphorical wall. But these ‘fish’ were caught by someone else, namely Murakami. Thus the grandeur, wit, and wisdom of his sentences mock me as a writer and thus inspire me to pen better.

They say a writer reads, and this is true. If you haven’t been inspired, you’re are learning, despite if you consciously know it or not. But if you have yet to catch something, you haven’t sat by the pond long enough. Remember, the prize is in the act, not the catch.

Be on the look out for future ‘Fisherman’s Net’ posts where I’ll display the catches from a recently read book.

Keep fishing imaginators!

Fisherman’s Net: Murakami’s Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

7 Dec

Using my ‘reading as fishing’ theory, I sat aside simplistic yet bizarre lake of Haruki Murakami’s short story collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman. All of these snippets swam into my soul. Each one, even out of context, maintains a concise sense of clarity while widening the eyes. Some are figurative gems, some are prime example of using specific details, while others are delightfully odd. Of course, it’s not a parade of quotable that make a great story, but it doesn’t hurt to fish out the goodies for inspiration.

Haruki Murakami’s Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

“A friend of mine had a habit of going to the zoo whenever there’s a typhoon. He’s been doing this for ten years.”

“Clothes aren’t important. The real problem is what’s inside them.”

“…the ground we walk on goes all the way to the earth’s core, and I suddenly realised that the core has sucked up an incredible amount of time.”

“She had held the words back and rolled them around on her tongue again and again before she let them out of her mouth.”

“…people’s hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what’s at the bottom. All you can do is guess from what comes floating to the surface every once in a while.”

“Cause and effect were good friends back then…”

“And us fellows with our newly brand new genitals and the wild, joyous, sad sex we had.”

“When you listen to someobody’s story and then try to reproduce it in writing, the tone’s the main thing. Get the tone right and you have a true story on your hands.”

“…a novelist – a story specialist”

“The older you get, the more boring travelling alone becomes.”

“…imperfect people always choose similarly imperfect people as friends.”

“If…we ever broke up, I want you to know I’ll always think about you. It’s true. I’ll never forget you, because I really love you. You’re the first person I’ve ever loved and just being with you makes me happy. You know that. But these are two different things. If you need me to promise you, I will. I will sleep with you some day. But not right now. After I marry somebody else, I’ll sleep with you. I promise.”

“Almost all the guests were locals, it seemed, and they called out to the waiters by first name: Giuseppe! Paolo!”

“I felt as if the world was out there just for me.”

“…a fairy tale that had such a strange ending. This is how it ended: “And when it was all over, the king and his retainers burst out laughing.”

“They flew so low you could almost make out the expressions on the faces of the pilots.”

“Swimming in such clear water, I could see my own shadow on the sandy bottom, as if I were a bird gliding through the sky.”

“She sat up. Sweat was beaded on her like flies on food. The rolls of fat started just below her ears and sloped gently down to her shoulders, then in one continuous series down her chubby arms…I couldn’t help thinking of the Michelin Man.”

“A student was working the hot-dog stand, which was shaped like a mi-van. He had a boom box on and Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel serenaded me as I waited for the hot dogs to cook.”

“I was beginning to feel like a dentist’s chair –  hated by no one but avoided by everyone.”

“Another thing he liked to do was sleep with his friends’ girlfriends and wives.”

“It’s hard to have a bad impression of somebody you have no impression of.”

“She just faded into nothingness, as if someone had gone backstage and flicked the switch.”

“…they had a clarity that made any explanation a waste of words.”

“…with such utter naturalness and grace that she could have been a bird that had wrapped itself in a special wind as it made ready to fly off to another world.”

“He was absorbed in his book, never once moving or looking up, as if trying to convince himself that he was completely alone.”

“Up till then I’d never given a though to what kind of people want to make maps – and why in the world they would.”

“Sometimes I can’t even remember what I was trying to say in teh first place. It’s as though my body’s split in two and one of me is chasing the other me around a big pillar. We’re running circles around it. The other me has the right words, but I can never catch her.”

“…in a very natural way, she started walking next to me, not in front.”

“And on Sundays I went on a date with my dead friend’s girlfriend.”

“I was always reading, so people thought I wanted to be a writer.”

“Her ten fingers, in search of something, roamed over my back.”

“A white shirt someone had forgotten to take in was pinned to the clothes line, swaying in the evening breeze like a cast-off skin.”

“Since I’m a novelist people assume that anything I say or write must have an element of make-believe.”

“It rained a few times each day – violently, as if someone were tipping a huge bowl of water out of the sky.”

“In all honesty, however, Sachi had never really liked her son. Of course she loved him – he was the important person in the world to her – but as an individual human being, she had trouble liking him, which was a realisation that it took her a very long time to reach.”

“There are only three ways to get along with a girl: one, shut  up and listen to what she has to say; two, tell her you like what she’s wearing; and three, treat her to really good food. Easy, eh? If you do all that and still don’t get the results you want, better give up.”

“She brushed off an imaginary, metaphysical piece of lint on her skirt, just above the knee.”

“Writers don’t have any talents to offer. A pianist could play you a tune. A painter could draw you a sketch. A magician could perform a trick or two. There’s not much a writer can do.” / “Oh, I don’t know, maybe I can just enjoy your artistic aura or something.”

“What a writer is supposed to do is observe and observe and observe again, and put off making judgements to the last possible moment.”

“A life without a name , she felt, was like a dream you never wake up from.”

“”It’s what I do. I’m a monkey who takes people’s names,” the monkey answered.””

“Pretty outrageous thing for a monkey to say,” Sakurada said, shaking his head. “Chief, I can’t stand it any more. Let’s beat the $hit out of him!”