Be the first person to get your free First Person Singular stories by Haruki Murakami online right away.
This is not just the free excerpt, but the whole book which you can download it for free and enjoy reading this 2021 short story collection of Haruki Murakami.
“First Person Singular” was published in 2020 in Japanese as “Ichininsho Tansu” (一人称単数).
This 2021 collection of eight stories by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami was translated into English by Philip Gabriel, a professor of Japanese literature at the University of Arizona.
- Check out the free Haruki Murakami new book 2022 “Novelist as A Vocation”.
The first seven stories were published before in Japanese language in Bungakukai (文學界, “Literary World”), a Japanese monthly literary magazine.
The first three stories (“Cream“, “On A Stone Pillow“, “Charlie Parker Plays Bossa Nova“) in this Bungakukai (文學界) July 2018 issue.
“With The Beatles” and “The Yakult Swallows Poetry Collection” are published in this Bungakukai (文學界) August 2019 issue.
“Confessions Of A Shinagawa Monkey” is published in this Bungakukai (文學界) February 2020 issue.
“Carnaval” is published in this Bungakukai (文學界) December 2019 issue.
Among the eight stories (including tanka poems) in “First Person Singular” are:
- Cream (クリーム, Kurīmu)
- On A Stone Pillow (石のまくらに, Ishi no Makura ni)
- Charlie Parker Plays Bossa Nova (チャーリー・パーカー・プレイズ・ボサノヴァ, Chārī Pākā Pureizu Bosanova)
- With The Beatles (ウィズ・ザ・ビートルズ, Wizu za Bītoruzu)
- Confessions Of A Shinagawa Monkey (品川猿の告白, Shinagawa Saru no Kokuhaku)
- Carnaval (謝肉祭, Shanikusai)
- The Yakult Swallows Poetry Collection (ヤクルト・スワローズ詩集, Yakuruto Suwarōzu Shishū)
- First Person Singular (一人称単数, Ichininshō Tansū)
As the book title suggests, all eight stories in the book are told in a first-person singular narrative.
First Person Singular Story Meaning
For the uninitiated, first-person narrative is a way of storytelling in which a storyteller recounts events from their own point of view using the first person such as “I”, “us”, “our” and “ourselves”.
In short, to tell a story from the narrator’s perspective.
All the 8 stories in this book are narrated in the first person.
By the way, the two fictions “The Yakult Swallows Poetry Collection“, and “Charlie Parker Plays Bossa Nova“, we know the narrator is Haruki Murakami himself.
For “The Yakult Swallows Poetry Collection“, Murakami specifically named the protagonist as Haruki Murakami and his affection for Tokyo Yakult Swallows baseball team.
The college student character who writes a review for a fictional album by jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker must be also Murakami, as he is a jazz enthusiast.
Related: Check out this 1997 Japanese book titled, “Portrait In Jazz” (ポートレイト・イン・ジャズ) by Haruki Murakami with illustrations by Wada Makoto.
It features 26 jazz legends ranging from Billie Holiday to Chet Baker to Charlie Christian, a tribute to the golden age of jazz.
This is the soundtrack of this book “Portrait in Jazz“.
The clue of the protagonist is Haruki Murakaimi is found in the dust jacket of the book itself.
The hard cover is designed to look like the vinyl record sleeve of the imaginary LP, “Charlie Parker Plays Bossa Nova“.
In addition, the so-called LP sleeve has “A Murakami Records Production” logo on it and even a “catalogue number“, which is actually the book’s ISBN number.
Music From Haruki Murakami Books
Many of his stories are peppered with with musical references and inspiration from the music world of jazz, classical and pop music.
Many of his novels, including “Norwegian Wood“, “Dance Dance Dance“, and “South Of The Border, West Of The Sun“, derive their titles from songs, and his characters constantly reflect on the music they hear.
In this First Person Singular Stories, Murakami pays homage to jazz music in “Charlie Parker Plays Bossa Nova“, pop music in “With The Beatles“, and classical music in “Carnaval“.
In the “With The Beatles” story, he mentioned quite a handful of singers, musicians together with their songs/music.
Songs And Musics In Haruki Murakami Stories
You should also check out Murakami’s deeply personal, intimate conversation about music and writing with the Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa, in his 2011 book, “Absolutely On Music“.
Free First Person Singular Stories
If you are a fanatic fan of internationally acclaimed Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami aka a “Harukist“, you would notice all of the stories are from his past published works, except for the “First Person Singular“, which is also the title of the book.
The stories are about nostalgia, aging, unanswered questions, baseball, mysterious women, jazz music, ugliness & beauty,
Beatlemania, and dreams.
As a matter of fact, each of these stories has to do with reminiscing.
Before you get your free First Person Singular Stories book online, let’s check out each story:
Cream (クリーム, Kurīmu)
This wistful and irresolute story by Haruki Murakami was published in English in the January 28, 2019 issue of The New Yorker.
It is about an eighteen year old guy who called himself an academic ronin, a student who fails the university entrance exam and is waiting to try again.
He doesn’t like calculus, but he enjoys reading all the works of the French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac.
Note: For those who like to check out the writings of Honoré de Balzac, read this free book.
Honoré de Balzac In Twenty-Five Volumes: The First Complete Translation Into English By E. P. Robbins
Click on this: Link
Here is another source of Honore de Balzac fictions, short stories and plays.
He was invited by an by an old acquaintance, a girl he barely knew to a piano recital.
On that chilly cloudy Sunday afternoon, he travels to the recital hall, which is located at the top of a mountain in Kobe, to find the venue locked and deserted.
Then retiring to a small park nearby, he later meets an old gray-haired man (mystic) who implores him to visualize a circle that has many centers but no circumference.
The narrator told him it was difficult to imagine such a thing, and the man replied that, “There’s nothing worth getting in this world that you can get easily“.
A circle that has several centers and no circumference
In fact there is a variations of this quote which is ascribed to various people, which include Hermes Trismegistus, Empédocle, Jorge Luis Borges, Alain of Lille, and Nicholas of Cusa.
“God is a circle whose centre is everywhere and circumference nowhere“, “God is an intelligible sphere, whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere” and “God is an infinite circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere“.
The old man tells him that when you finally achieve such difficult things as reaching an understanding of something you once couldn’t, it becomes the cream of your life, the crème de la crème.
The narrator closes his eyes once again and tries to visualize such a circle but is unable to.
Upon opening his eyes, he discovers that the old man has vanished.
The narrator recounts this strange incident to a younger friend and attempts to make sense of the old man’s musings.
On A Stone Pillow (石のまくらに, Ishi no Makura ni)
A man reminisces about his time as a nineteen-year-old boy who has a one-night stand with an older female waitress who writes
The story starts off: I’d like to tell a story about a woman. The thing is, I know next to nothing about her. I can’t even remember her name, or her face. And I’m willing to bet she doesn’t remember me, either.
Yes, he doesn’t know her name, and hardly remember her face.
She warns him that when she comes, she will yell the name of someone else.
Weeks after their night together, the narrator receives a package in the mail from her, a hand-printed book of 24 poems, titled “On A Stone Pillow” written under the name Chiho.
Anyway, he doesn’t know that is her real name or a pen name.
In the present, he wonders why he continues to think of this woman and her poems so long after this incident occurred.
Falling in love is like a mental illness that your health insurance won’t pay for
Charlie Parker Plays Bossa Nova (チャーリー・パーカー・プレイズ・ボサノヴァ, Chārī Pākā Pureizu Bosanova)
This story about a fictitious Charlie Parker record by Haruki Murakami in English was published in English in the U.K. literary magazine Granta. No. 148. Summer 2019.
It is about a university student who writes a fake review for his college literary magazine, about a Charlie Parker record that has never existed.
He is so passionately wants the famous American jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker to record playing his sax bossa nova-style, before he died.
But the fact is it is impossible as in Charlie Parker’s time, since bossa nova developed after jazz and after Parker had died in 1955.
Well, just like one of Murakami’s surreal stories, he comes across the fictitious nonexistent album at a small used-record store on East 14th Street New York.
These graceful, disjointed phrases are like lovely memories, their names hidden, slipping into your dreams. Like fine wind patterns you never want to disappear, leaving gentle traces on the sand dunes of your heart…
By the way, Milosz Konarski has written and recorded their own version of this imaginary album, titled “Charlie Parker Plays Bossa Nova (What If)”
Related: There is this 1988 biographical film about the troubled life and career of jazz saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker.
The titular role is played by Forest Whitaker, and the movie is directed and produced by Clint Eastwood.
With The Beatles (ウィズ・ザ・ビートルズ, Wizu za Bītoruzu)
This wistful and irresolute story by Haruki Murakami was published in English in the February 17 & 24 2020 issue of The New Yorker.
The narrator, a writer recalling a beautiful girl clutching onto an original copy of the Beatles’ 1963 LP “With The Beatles“ to her chest, hurrying down the public school hallway one early autumn afternoon in 1964.
By the way this is The Beatles or The Fab Four‘s second studio album with songs like, “All My Loving”, “Please Mr. Postman”, “Roll Over Beethoven”, “You Really Got a Hold on Me” and “I Wanna Be Your Man”.
You can listen all the 14 songs from the “With The Beatles” album over here.
A dimly lit hallway in a high school, a beautiful girl, the hem of her skirt swirling, “With the Beatles.”
That memory keeps haunting him even he was in his mid-thirties.
But he never once saw that beautiful girl again.
The fact is he is not too sure the existence of this girl with the Beatles record, or is it a figment of his imagination.
Then he talks about his first girlfriend Sayoko who had almost no interest in The Beatles or jazz, either.
She listened to more mellow music, which include the Mantovani Orchestra, Percy Faith, Roger Williams, Andy Williams, Nat King Cole, and the like.
One Sunday in 1965, he went to Sayoko’s house for a date, found her gone and instead spent time with her brother, who suffered from acute memory loss.
To kill time, waiting for the young woman to arrive, he read aloud the final section of the 1927 story “Spinning Gears” (歯車, Haguruma) by Japanese writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa, who committed suicide after he wrote it.
Eighteen years later he ran into Sayoko’s brother in Tokyo.
Sayoko’s brother told him that Sayoko had died by suicide, and both men contemplated how little they had known or understood her.
Sometimes scraps of memory like that can be the trigger that brings a story into being
Related: Ryunosuke Akutagawa is regarded as the “father of the Japanese short story“.
He committed suicide at the age of 35 through an overdose of barbital.
You can read the story “Spinning Gears” from this free book online.
This is another book of short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa.
In 1950, Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa wrote (with others) and directed the award-winning film “Rashōmon” which the plot and characters are based upon Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s short story “In a Grove” (藪の中, Yabu no Naka), with the title and framing story being based on another short story by Akutagawa, “Rashōmon“.
- Here are free movies based on Haruki Murakami books you can watch online.
Confessions Of A Shinagawa Monkey (品川猿の告白, Shinagawa Saru no Kokuhaku)
The talking Shinagawa monkey story by Haruki Murakami was published in English in the June 8 & 15, 2020 issue of The New Yorker.
“Confessions Of A Shinagawa Monkey” is about a guy who befriends a monkey at a rural inn.
This monkey who can speak like a human, scrubs guests’ backs in the hot springs, drink beer, fall in love with human females, and even steal women’s names by stealing their IDs.
The monkey says he was raised by a college professor in Shinagawa, Tokyo, which accounts for his sophisticated vocabulary and tastes, including a liking for Anton Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony and a desire for women.
Some time later, the narrator was back in Tokyo and having lunch with a female colleague when she suddenly forgot her own name.
He wondered if this particular talking Shinagawa monkey had stolen it.
I believe that love is the indispensable fuel for us to go on living. Someday that love may end. Or it may never amount to anything. But even if it fades away, even if it’s unrequited, you can still hold on to the memory of having loved someone
Note: There is an earlier story (a prequel) by Haruki Murakami story titled “A Shinagawa Monkey” translated by Philip Gabriel.
It was published in the February 13 & 20, 2006 issue of The New Yorker.
Carnaval (謝肉祭, Shanikusai)
The story of an unnamed narrator and his his brief friendship with “the ugliest” woman (he called her F*) he’s ever had ever known.
Interestingly, both of them shared a common love for composer Robert Schumann’s “Carnaval“, a piano solo.
What Murakami called them Carnaval buddies.
They spent considerable time together listening to different recordings of the piece.
According to him, she was a pleasant person, and a good talker, able to converse widely. Add to this a quick mind, and good taste in music.
Eventually, he lost contact with F*, and he later saw her on the news being arrested for investment fraud with her husband.
He was just as surprised to discover that she had a
handsome husband as he was to learn she was a criminal.
Haruki Murakami Classical Music
In this Murakami’s fiction, he mentions a lot of classical music, symphonies, chamber music and operas.
No matter how beautiful a woman might be, she always has imperfections, and likewise no matter how ugly a woman might be, there’s always a part of her that is beautiful
Yakult Swallows Poetry Collection (ヤクルト・スワローズ詩集, Yakuruto Suwarōzu Shishū)
This is an autobiographical story of Murakami himself who loves to watch baseball, writing poems and his relationship with his father.
The title of this story is named after a collection of poetry Murakami self-published in 1982.
It was just before he finished writing his third novel “A Wild Sheep Chase”.
In the beginning of the story, Murakami reflects on his lifelong love of baseball, and particularly the team he has followed ever since moving to Tokyo.
It was in 1968, eighteen year old Murakami was living in Tokyo, he became a lifelong supporter of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows baseball, when they were known as the Sankei Atoms.
For the then young Murakami, the year 1968 was a memorable time: the Japanese folk group, The Folk Crusaders had a big hit with “I Only Live Twice”(帰って来たヨッパライ, Kerekite Kita).
The Tokyo Yakult Swallows team had a long history of losing when he began going to their games, but he did not mind, as he simply enjoyed the experience of attending a game.
He writes, “As long as I could stretch out on the grass past the outfield, have some beers, and watch the game, occasionally gazing aimlessly up at the sky, I was pretty happy.”
Haruki Murakami Poetry
To pass his time while watching the game, Murakami scribbled down some poem-like jottings in a notebook.
All of the four poems in the book were written at baseball games and feature baseball-related themes.
He also reflects on his strained relationship with his father, as well as his writing career.
At the end of the story, Murakami compares himself as a novelist to the dark beer vendor at a baseball game, suggesting that both offer products that do not appeal to a large demographic.
Related: “Yakult Swallows Poetry Collection” is a collection of various short poems found in Haruki Murakami and the late Shigesato Itoi’s 1981 collaborative story collection titled “Let’s Meet In A Dream” (夢で逢いましょう,Yume de Aimashou).
You can find out more details of this book “Let’s Meet In A Dream” over here.
To read more of the short stories and poems from this book, check here.
First Person Singular (一人称単数, Ichininshō Tansū)
“First Person Singular” is about this guy who meets a woman in a basement bar one spring evening.
She accuses him of a horrendous, but unnamed, offense against her friend.
“You must know what I’m talking about. Think about it. About what happened three years ago, at the shore. About what a horrible, awful thing you did. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
He cannot recall the woman or his actions and leaves the bar.
Strangely, the world outside the bar is a different place and no longer spring time.
It has become hostile, bitterly cold, semi-buried in ash, inhabited by slimy snakes and faceless people….
Well, this Haruki Murakami world of fiction story telling for you.
So, if you want to read this free book of short stories by Haruki Murakami “First Person Singular Stories, click any of the links below.
Related: Here is a big list of free Haruki Murakami novels, short stories, essays and travel writings in English.
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