Almost Transparent Blue by Ryu Murakami


[#]s indicate page breaks. Days are not directly indicated in the book.


[1] Ryu, Lilly at Lilly’s apartment. Ryu describes (to the reader) a cockroach in the kitchen while he and Lilly talk idly about something that happened before page one. Lilly injects heroin or Philopon in herself, offers to Ryu who says “Not today, I’ve got some at my place too, and some friends are coming over” re [2]. Ends with an implication that they have sex.

[2] Ryu, Reiko, Okinana at Ryu’s apartment. Begins “A sharp odor filled my room” re “an old pineapple.” Okinawa references an orgy that happened before page one (“Hey, Ryu, you going to fix up another party?”) and Ryu says “Yeah, well, those black guys asked me to” referencing the orgy in [6]. Okinawa asks Reiko if she’s going to the party. Reiko says yes. Okinawa says he doesn’t want her “to get stoned and screw some black.” Okinawa talks about being in a “drug rehab center” in the past and being injected with morphine everyday. Okinawa injects heroin into Ryu. Something unclear happens between Okinawa and Reiko. Ryu hears Okinawa “spit out the word Shit!” and leave the apartment (Ryu says to Yoshiyama in [4] that Okinawa “got impatient and shot it all up himself, her’s too”). Ryu “recalls” the face of a woman he saw “in a movie or a dream,” something that’s somewhat/maybe referenced in [12] when Ryu, on mescaline, describes Lilly’s “gesture and expression” as “just the same as a little girl I’d seen once in a dream.”


[3] Ryu, Reiko walk in daytime to the train station. Ryu says “I don’t understand that guy Okinawa—I mean, the trains had already stopped running for the night by the time he left” referencing end of [2]. Reiko “softly” says “It’s O.K. Ryu, I’ve had enough” referencing [17]. Reiko talks about collecting a specimen book of leaf veins, says she wants to show Ryu, who seems distracted, says he wants to go to Reiko’s bar “today” to tell Moko and Kei about “the party.” At the station Ryu talks about how it’s hot outside and already Summer. Reiko—maybe depressed about Ryu’s seeming disinterest in her specimen book—says “Huh? What?”

[4] Ryu, Reiko, Kazuo, Yoshiyama, Moko, Kei talk and use drugs at Reiko’s bar after she closes early and “spill[s] about two hundred Nibrole pills out onto the table” saying “Tonight’s the night before the party!” They listen to music from a record player, drink whiskey, talk idly and drunkenly, and Kazuo photographs people with his Nikomat with a strobe sometimes attached to it as people vaguely protest him photographing everyone. They discuss how to get to the “party” the next day, re [6], decide on “one o’clock at Koenji Station.” Ryu, Yoshiyama go outside “to vomit.” After vomiting they talk about the urge to kill a woman.


[5] Ryu, Reiko, Kazuo, Yoshiyama, Moko, Kei meet at the train station discussed in [4]. Moko has shoplifted things, maybe perfume. The “three girls” put on make-up and “People passing by looked at them strangely.”

[6] Ryu, Reiko, Moko, Kei, Jackson, Bob, Oscar, Durham, Saburo have an orgy in Oscar’s room (see page six for a summary of this orgy).

[7] Ryu, Lilly at Lilly’s apartment. Lilly seems angry, tells Ryu not to “get in too deep with that Jackson, the MP’s are watching him, he’s going to get caught.” Ryu relates (to the reader) post-orgy back-story about “Bob’s woman Tami” getting in a fight with Kei, threatening to tell her gangster brother and that he brought Tami to Lilly’s to calm her down, because Lilly knows Tami. Lilly asks if she should buy mescaline for Ryu and her, referencing when they take mescaline in [12], and Ryu asks how much it is and Lilly answers. They start talking about something else without a clear answer about the mescaline.


[8] Ryu, Lilly the next morning still at Lilly’s apartment after they “did it” the night before and Lilly “shot up again” and said “I just keep using more, no matter what, I’ve got to cut down pretty soon or I’ll be an addict, right?” Ryu looks at people and things outside as it rains and Lilly lies in bed half-asleep then asleep. Ends with a small girl coming inside the apartment, whose door is open, saying “Lilly, hey, it’s raining” and other things. Lilly wakes and says “Hey, Sherry, what are you up to?”

[9] Ryu, Reiko, Moko, Kazuo, Yoshiyama talking idly downstairs from Oscar’s room (where the orgy happened). It is still raining. People are waking. Kei opens her eyes and says “Hey, so ya stayed over last night with that whore-lady?” to Ryu re [8] re Lilly.

[10] Ryu, Reiko, Moko, Kei, Jackson, Oscar, Bob, Saburo, “a flabby fat white woman,” Rudianna in Oscar’s room. Ryu puts on a “silver negligee Saburo said he’d got from a pro stripper” and Moko puts make-up on his face. Someone injects Ryu with heroin. Jackson injects heroin into the palm of Reiko’s hand. Ryu dances. Bob says “Sexy.” Rudianna forces Ryu to have sex with her, sitting on him, as Jackson comes in Ryu’s mouth and the “flabby fat white woman” puts Ryu’s toes then foot into her vagina.

[11] Ryu alone in Oscar’s room at night idly looking outside at the rain and lightning.


[12] Ryu, Lilly at Ryu’s apartment. Lilly has brought the mescaline. They each ingest one mescaline capsule and drive, park somewhere, run through a tomato field, drive somewhere else, go onto a runway where a plane flies over them. Ryu describes (to the reader) the lightning making everything transparent (see central event).


[13] Ryu, Kei, Moko, Reiko, Yoshiyama, Kazuo in Ryu’s apartment, early in the morning. Three cops enter the apartment unexpectedly, without a warrant, saying “What’re you kids up to in here?” and “Hey, you little bitch, did I make you feel bad?”

[14] Ryu, Kei, Moko, Reiko, Yoshiyama, Kazuo go to “a performance by the Bar Kays at the Hibiya Park open-air concert stage” after “Yoshiyama, the oldest, [turned] in the standard apology forms at the dusty smelling police station” (it seems unclear what the cops did to them). Kazuo, Yoshiyama don’t have money to enter and climb over a fence. Kazuo is beaten in the leg with “a bat” by a guard. Yoshiyama says “We’ve caught the bastard who got Kazuo.” A “half-naked, mixed-blood hippie,” Yoshiyama, and another hippie beat the guard badly, break his left arm, and leave him in a “dimly lit public bathroom.” On the train leaving the concert Yoshiyama pukes then “[watches] vacantly as other passengers hurried to move away.” He grabs a woman, tearing her blouse, and she runs away, toward Ryu, Moko, and Ryu trips her and tries to “tongue-kiss her.” At the next station Ryu, Moko, Yoshiyama spit at the woman and run out onto the platform and get away, with Yoshiyama hitting a station official in the face when the station official “[seizes] Moko’s arm.”


[15] Ryu alone in Ryu’s apartment looking idly outside at people and birds. He decides to give the pineapple from [2] to the birds. He throws the pineapple from his second floor apartment to the roots of a poplar tree, at the suggestion of an American woman from the first floor who “seemed friendly.”

[16] Ryu, Reiko, Okinawa, Yoshiyama, Kei, Kazuo at Ryu’s apartment. Reiko tells Ryu not to tell Okinawa about “the party” because he would “kill [her]” and Ryu laughs. Yoshiyama is “mad” Kei didn’t come home “last night.” Ryu walks Moko to the train station. Moko tells Ryu to watch Yoshiyama because he’ll beat Kei. Ryu returns to his apartment. Reiko injects heroin into her palm like Jackson did to her in [10]. Okinawa asks where she learned to do that. Reiko looks at Ryu and winks and says “Why, Ryu showed me, of course.” Yoshiyama beats Kei on the roof as Ryu and Okinawa talk inside (see central theme, expressed aloud). Ryu goes to the roof and stops Yoshiyama from beating Kei. There’s a space break in the text, then Kei is on the bed “groaning painfully” as Yoshiyama sobs while begging Kei not to leave him. Kei is unresponsive. Yoshiyama cuts his wrist. Kei says “we’re going out to eat now, nobody’s had lunch yet so we’re going out to eat. If ya want to die, ya go and die alone, rightu So ya don’t lay any hassle on Ryu, go outside and die alone” (in [4] while Reiko was saying she wanted to die Kei had said “Well, why don’ ya jes’ go ahead and die thenu Hey, Ryu, that’s right, huhu Ya think sou People who wanna die should jes’ go ahead and die without a lot of fuss.” Non-Ryu “central event/scene,” maybe in combination with [17], of the book, in my view.

[17] Ryu, Yoshiyama are at a hospital. On the return walk to Ryu’s apartment Yoshiyama keeps talking about how he “won’t lay down any more hassles” and that he’s sorry and will “go to India.” Reiko, Okinawa, Kei are at Ryu’s apartment. Yoshiyama sits in front of the TV and tells Kei he has decided to go to India. Kei says “Yeah.” Van Gogh cuts his ear off in a movie on TV. Okinawa and Reiko fight about their relationship. Van Gogh shoots himself.

[18] Ryu alone in his apartment looking at a moth, then describing (to the reader) the things in his room, including “a mayonnaise bottle” and “a star-shaped candy box.”

[19] Ryu, Lilly at Lilly’s apartment. Lilly talks about a novel she read that reminded her of Ryu while Ryu seems distracted and alternates remembering disconnected things with describing things in the room (both to the reader only). Ryu begins twitching and drops a cup of black coffee. He starts saying incoherent things about birds, then smashes a brandy glass on the floor. He rolls on the floor saying “I can’t see anything. Lilly, I can’t see a thing.” Lilly runs outside. Ryu jabs a fragment of glass into his “shaking arm.”

[20] Ryu outside Lilly’s apartment alone. He relates (to the reader) back-story of running out of Lilly’s room with a bloody left arm and falling on the grass. He describes “[t]he horizon of the shadowy reflected town” to have a “a delicate curving line” the same as he saw in [12] when he’d “almost killed Lilly on the runway in the rain” somewhat/maybe referencing his dialogue in [4] with Yoshiyama about urges to kill a woman. He sits looking at a piece of glass then stands and walks to his apartment. The pineapple he threw out “yesterday” re [15] is still beside the poplar in front of his apartment. It is very early in the morning. He “[crouches] down on the ground and [waits] for the birds.”


[21] Three-paragraph, one-page letter from Ryu to Lilly that begins “Lilly, where are you now?” Second paragraph talks about someone named Augusta and a “half-Japanese painter” who weren’t in the book, but probably were involved in events after [20]. Ends “And just because I’ve written this book, don’t think I’ve changed. I’m like I was back then, really.”


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