Unbelievable

The final week of Murakami Fest 2021! Here are the previous posts:

Year 1: BoobsThe WindBaseballLederhosenEels, Monkeys, and Doves
Year 2: Hotel Lobby OystersCondomsSpinning Around and Around街・町The Town and Its Uncertain WallA Short Piece on the Elephant that Crushes Heineken Cans
Year 3: “The Town and Its Uncertain Wall” – Words and WeirsThe LibraryOld DreamsSaying GoodbyeLastly
Year 4: More DrawersPhone CallsMetaphorsEight-year-olds, dudeUshikawaLast Line
Year 5: Jurassic SapporoGerry MulliganAll Growns UpDanceMountain Climbing
Year 6: Sex With Fat WomenCoffee With the ColonelThe LibrarianOld ManWatermelons
Year 7: WarmthRebirthWastelandHard-onsSeventeenEmbrace
Year 8: PigeonEditsMagazinesAwkwardnessBack Issues
Year 9: WaterSnæfellsnesCannonballDistant Drumming
Year 10: VermontersWandering and BelongingPeter Cat, Sushi Counter, Murakami Fucks First
Year 11: Embers, Escape, Window Seats, The End of the World
Year 12: Distant Drums, Exhaustion, Kiss, Lack of Pretense, Rotemburo
Year 13: Murakami Preparedness, Pacing Norwegian Wood, Character Studies and Murakami’s Financial Situation, Mental Retreat, Writing is Hard
Year 14: Prostitutes and Novelists, Villa Tre Colli and Norwegian Wood, Surge of Death, On the Road to Meta

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The next chapter is メータ村 (Meta). Ubi takes the group off the highway and they drive into the mountains through several small villages. It’s Palm Sunday and everyone walking around is holding olive branches. Ubi gives the background on some of the surrounding villages of Peschiera and San Savino. Despite their proximity to Meta, the people there walk differently and have a different worldview, or so Ubi claims. His father is from San Savino, his mother from Meta.

They see the father’s cottage he keeps in San Savnio, animals that he has around, and then they arrive at Meta, meet his mother at the family house and eat. Ubi’s dad comes in and is clearly a drunk; Murakami describes him as having a red nose like Santa Claus.

They head to a bar and meet the brothers, one who works in trade and another as a town council member. Then they go to the mother’s family home, which is made of stone and has a hidden area where the family secreted away an English pilot who crashed nearby during the war. The Nazis actually came to the village looking for the pilot, and when they couldn’t find him, they took away some of the young men (? – Murakami gives it as 若者) from the town.

The chapter is a return to form, for the most part. It does feel a little scattered, which I’ll chalk up to Ubi being scattered himself. Murakami does a nice job with the dialogue, keeping a running joke with Ubi’s catchphrase シンジラレナイ (“Unbelievable!”).

Here’s the closing section which is pretty nicely penned:

Evening approaches, and Meta gets colder and colder. Ubi and his mother and Usako and me and my wife go up to the old town at the top of the mountain. (Batista is wasted and shuts himself away in his hideaway in San Savino.) All we can see are mountains. And here and there in the mountains, small villages like Meta (but with different outlooks on the world and ways of walking) exist, fixed firmly to the mountain surface. A frigid wind whistles between abandoned homes. I can’t believe the German army made it to a place like this. I’m absolutely impressed. The Germans really are a diligent people.

“You see those mountains over there,” Ubi says and points. “When I was little, I thought that was the end of the world. Honestly no one knew anything about what was beyond. No one told me anything. So to me that was the end of the world. And this—Meta—was the center of the world.”

He puts a cigarette in his mouth in the wind and lights it.

“Shinjirarenai (Unbelievable),” he says. And he laughs.

夕方が近くなって、メータ村はますます冷えこんでくる。ウビさんとお母さんとウサコと僕と女房とで、山の頂上にある古い町に上がってみる(バチスタは飲んだくれて例のサン・サヴィーノの隠遁所に引っ込んでしまった)。山しか見えない。そしてその山のあちこちにメータ村と同じような(しかし世界観と歩き方の違う)小さな村々が山肌にしっかりとへばりつくように存在している。冷やかなな風がひゅううっと廃屋のまわりを吹き抜けていく。よくこんなところまでドイツ軍がやってきたものだと思う。まったく感心してしまう。 ドイツ人というのは本当にまめな人類なんだろう。

「あそこに山が見えるでしょう」とウビさんが指していう。「僕が小さい頃、あれが世界の果てだと思っていた。事実誰もあの向こうのことを知らなかった。誰も教えてくれなかった。だから僕にはあれが世界の果てだったんだ。そしてここが、このメータ村が世界の中心だったんだ」

彼は風の中でタバコをくわえ、火をつける。

「シンジラレナイ」と彼は言う。そして笑う。 (236-237)

This appears to be a fortuitous ending to Murakami Fest this year: This is the end of a section, and in the next section it’s spring and the Murakamis are off to Greece. See y’all in 2022!

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