Almost Transparent Blue by Ryu Murakami

CHARACTERS

Information is inferred mostly from dialogue, as the narrator doesn’t state non-attributed facts, I think. There are no sentences like “Lilly was twenty” but are sentences like “They said Lilly had done fashion modeling, once” and “pretty soon we’ll both be twenty, right?”

[Race]/[Gender] (J = Japanese, A = American, X = Mixed-Race)

MAIN

Ryu (J/M) First-person narrator. Lives alone in an apartment. Has view of a “general hospital” with a garden from his window. Age, 19, inferred from dialogue.

Lilly (J/F) Ryu’s friend and sexual partner. Not friends with Ryu’s main group of friends, whom she refers to as “weirdos.” Referred to as “whore-lady” by Kei in [9]. May formerly have done some fashion modeling. Lives within walking distance of Ryu. Works at a bar/restaurant.

Reiko (X/F) Okinawa’s girlfriend. Works at a bar. Is from Okinawa. Described as “fat.”

Okinawa (J/M) Reiko’s boyfriend. Formerly in rehab. Is from Okinawa. His name being the same as where he’s from isn’t addressed in the book, I think.

Kei (X/F) Yoshiyama’s girlfriend. Speaks (others tell her to stop) with an Osaka accent/dialect, sarcastically (others tell her to stop), that is conveyed as a “southern” accent in the English translation. Lives with Yoshiyama.

Yoshiyama (J/M) Kei’s boyfriend. The oldest in the immediate group of friends. Mother recently died and is unemployed.

Moko (J/F) Is in a recent issue of An-An, a fashion magazine. Says “nigger” often and shoplifts.

Kazuo (J/M) Photographs people often with a Nikomat camera which Ryu quotes him as saying is “more precious than life itself.”

AMERICANS FROM THE “YOKOTA” AIR FORCE BASE

Jackson (A/M) Black American and medic who uses vanilla extract during the orgy.

Bob (A/M) Black American with a “huge cock.”

Oscar (A/M) Black American described as “wiry-haired.”

Durham (A/M) Black American whose penis “bent fairly far” when “fully erect.”

Saburo (X/M) Has the largest penis at the orgy, according to Kei.

OTHER

Male (J/M) Ryu’s friend who Ryu meets unexpectedly at the outdoor concert in [14]. Is 19 and his name is a nickname. Was in a band with Ryu in Kyoto. Possibly played piano in the band.

Meg (J/F) Wanted to play organ in Ryu and Male’s band. Lived with Male. Was badly burned in an accident. Mentioned in [14].

Ryu’s parents (J/-) Mentioned once, in [4], when Ryu says “They’re O.K., they worry about me, I get all kinds of letters.”

Ryu’s grandmother (J/F) Mentioned in [19] when he relates (to the reader) visiting her in the hospital when he was in grade school.

Kurokawa (?/M) Mentioned once, in [16], by Okinawa, who says “I met Kurokawa awhile back, he said he was really disgusted. He said he’d go to Algeria, be a guerrilla.”

Augusta (?/F) Mentioned once, in [21]. Mutual friend or acquaintance of Ryu and Lilly.

Sam (?/?) Mentioned once, in [4] by Kei, who says “Yoshiyama, Ah’m not coming back tonight because Ah’m going to Sam’s place.”

Ken (?/M) Mentioned in [1]. May have stabbed his brother.

Ken’s sister (?/F) Mentioned once, in [1].

Yoshiko (?/F) Mentioned once, in [2], as the nurse who “shot up in the butt” Okinawa each day with morphine when he was in rehab.

Blackey (?/?) Kei & Yoshiyama’s cat.

Tami (A/F) Referred to as “Bob’s woman.”

Tami’s brother (A/M) Referred to as “a big gangster” who is “real bad” in [7].

Green Eyes (A/M) Black American described by Jackson as “crazy, really, we don’t know where he lives or whether he has a family, just that he’s been here a lot longer than we have, seems he’s been in Japan an awful long time.”

Rudianna (A/F) Black American. Dancer. Taller than Ryu.

Sherry (A/F) Small girl with blonde hair who lives near and knows Lilly. Appears once, in [8].

More From Thought Catalog

  • JamesFranco'sEgo

    long story bro

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      hey

  • shoehorn

    “Sometimes I felt encouraged to continue by a feeling that I now felt more excited to write fiction, and that if I read an essay like this by someone else, on the internet, I might also feel more excited to write fiction.”
    i think you accomplished your goal.

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    “I could see into the kitchen from where I sat.”

    There is something about this phrase that I think is genius.

  • Interested

    Brilliant article.

    I would love to know more about “The Back You Want To Kick” by Risa Wataya

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      i think it isn't translated to english

  • Nunsypher

    I can't wait to read your next novel. Read Philip Roth too :)

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      my next novel

      sweet

    • Jonny Ross

      philip roth

  • http://www.critiquemanque.org Morgan

    I've never read “Almost Transparent Blue” so I only wanted to read parts of this. Now I want to go read the book so I can finish this essay.

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      sweet

      i can mail you my copy for $5 paypal

      • http://www.critiquemanque.org Morgan

        That's a good deal. Will you sign it?

  • mario

    takashi murakami.

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      ryu murakami's goodreads 'bio':

      'Ryū Murakami is a Japanese novelist and filmmaker. He is not related to Haruki Murakami or Takashi Murakami.'

      hehe

  • http://david-fishkind.com David Fishkind

    nibrole seems so sweet

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      chewy ass nibroles

  • http://twitter.com/mungofrench kdub

    this is extremely interesting and i'm probably going to read it again later. slowly.

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      sweet sweet

  • http://twitter.com/HopelessMuffins BK

    I love this. absolutely.

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      sweet

      bk

  • http://tomhankssuperfan.blogspot.com megan boyle

    “I think that scene is 'touching' to me because—by seeming to have no purpose except to non-rhetorically relate what seems, to me, like a memory—it promotes, or is evidence, to me, that a single specific experience that doesn’t cost anything, and has no effect on anyone that isn’t involved, and that doesn’t have to be known by anyone else can be 'worth more' to a person than years of comfort or love or accomplishment or millions of dollars or the respect and admiration of thousands. That a single person, or two people, using only themselves and each other, can easily create an intense, unrecorded, unshared memory that is more emotional, memorable, and affecting than winning the lottery or getting a masters degree or even 'falling in love,' maybe, seems 'beautiful' and exciting and affecting to me. I think I’ve had experiences like this even when alone, and even when feeling conventionally 'negative' feelings, like being very lonely or feeling extremely desperate. These moments—rather than 'accomplishments' or other hierarchal activities, or even some form of long-lasting comfort or calmness, or something—seem to be what I 'want' most, if I want anything, in life, based on what I know currently. When I’m aware of this, and believe it, to a certain degree, I feel calm, I think.”

    me too…

    good job

    viral ass transparent blue

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      good job changing ” to '

      sweet…

      • http://newhandsweepstakes.com/2011/01/20/american-idol-is-awesome/ Brian McElmurry

        I liked this part too. Seems transcending.

  • http://www.smokingonanemptystomach.blogspot.com Jordan

    i felt inspired to change, i think, or 'remembered,' rather, a 'calmer, more [something] “version of myself”' that i seem to only be able to concretely associate with 'working on things in the library' or 'being alone in my bedroom working on things in a voluntary, “camly excited” manner,' that i have maybe not experienced in the past few days, after reading this essay

    i enjoyed reading your 'slimmed down' version of his conversation with 'okinawa'

    i felt excited about the possibility of participating in an orgy, i think, or excited, possibly, about something else, while reading your summary of the orgy in the book

    good job bro

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      seems like i imagine you in an orgy 'wandering around' with a 'glassy' eyeballs…sort of with a somewhat 'tense' neck/head area…slowly moving around, walking, almost with tears on your eyeballs

  • http://twitter.com/rislynsey christopher lynsey

    Monumental.

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      sweet

  • Hilson

    i am pretty excited to read this, i wrote my senior work on this book a couple years ago.

    is there anyway you can put it together in a printable format. i want to read off the computer screen, on paper, at a place convenient to me such as my desk or toilet.

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      if you email me at binky.tabby [at] gmail.com i can email you it in one i think

      maybe i can add a page 9 that has everything

  • http://wayindie.blogspot.com kelly huckaby

    about 3/4 through reading this for some reason i remembered being 12 years old and sitting alone at the front of the bus on the way to school, feeling very sad and lonely after having returned from visiting 40ish cousins in malaysia and trying not to cry the whole way.

    i kept thinking “if somebody tries to talk to me i'm going to tell them my cat died.”

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      sweet

      interesting…

      sweet

  • bob

    I think you got an A on this essay at nyu

    not always good but sometimes great.

    thx

  • Robertbenesh

    I'm currently reading the Japanese version of this (as a part of my dissertation) after a few reads through in English, and I certainly feel that the balance between the perspective of the narrator and the perspective of the character have changed across translations, but I was having difficulty pinning it down. Your writing on the subject was very clear and concise and helped me greatly in understanding these differences. I find it to be very strange timing that you posted this in a time when I am focusing on this work so heavily.

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      sweet…

      i feel interested in the difference re english/japanese, if you would like to share your thoughts

      • Robertbenesh

        It's somewhat difficult to explain without spiraling into detail, but one of the main features I found was that the character of Ryu seemed somewhat more sympathetic and caring toward Reiko, and the narrator's perspective seemed something more–to me, like a sense of loss because of a love he allowed to escape him. As if, in retrospect, he feels guilt for not attempting to build a romantic bond between him and Reiko, realizing after the event that she was much more important to him than he originally understood. There seem to be several moments like this one where the perspective of the narrator Ryu seems to indicate that he wanted to revisit this time of life through this piece of work to better understand the opportunities he missed and the experiences that still weight heavily on him. But then again I could be making all this up.

      • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

        thanks for sharing your thoughts, i felt that the narrator was more sympathetic toward reiko than the character, and that the narrator was more sympathetic because in retrospect he felt that reiko probably liked him in a way that he didn't like her, and simply sympathized with that, maybe as a vicarious source of sympathy in whatever unrequited situation he might currently be in (maybe he views lilly as an unrequited situation currently), or something

  • Chillwave Gonzales

    Having insomnia, and am chilling with this.

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      chillwave gonzales

      sweet

  • Nicholas

    just ordered a copy off amazon. awesome essay, tao! very impressed :)

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      hi nicholas

      sweet

  • http://twitter.com/faizthoughts Faiz Khan

    “There doesn’t seem to be any critique of society, but mostly only of existence, or of self, or of seemingly nothing, in this book.”

    this sentence made me feel 'very bleak'

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      hi faiz khan

      sweet

  • http://popserial.tumblr.com stephen

    I liked this a lot, Tao. I'm glad you wrote it. After reading Ryu Murakami's story in Zoetrope, I'm very interested in reading more by him. The section of your essay that Megan quoted in her comment, that section made me feel gratified and excited. Great job bro

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      hi stephen

      sweet

      enjoyed reading your comment

      glad you felt gratified and excited

      http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/intvi

  • http://twitter.com/vickylimitless Vicky Lim

    I liked this essay, particularly the moments of doubt and encouragement expressed on page eight, which is how I feel often when writing an essay.

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      hi vicky

      sweet

  • http://kumquatparadise.tumblr.com aaron nicholas

    i…uh…skipped straight to page 7

  • jejune

    thanks for writing this, i appreciated it, especially the paragraph in which you explain why you were touched by the novel.

    i was surprised that the characters listened to luiz bonfa while having an orgy.


    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      i like it, seems almost 'emotional,' luiz bonfa

      sweet

  • buttercup mcgillicuddy

    found the nancy andrew translation online in .pdf format and plan to read [9] upon completing the novel

    also ['in-line', i think, with my interests] found this clip of the film version

    but could not find any torrents, dvds, streaming videos, etc. and feel desperate

    i enjoyed this analysis, tao, and feel inspired to write more fiction after reading it

    based on your receptiveness to this author, and based on previous japanese literature i've read, i perceive ryu murakami as [sort of] the 'most-underground' author who writes in a form and with similar intent/interests as oe and abe, which i feel excited to now be exposed to. thanks

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      hi buttercup

      sweet

      enjoyed reading your comment

      i think ryu murakami is 'really famous' in japan (re 'most-underground')

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