New Yorker fiction -- November 21, 2005 issue
What in the hell is up with this "story"? Now, I have liked some of Murakami's New Yorker stories in the past -- they are at least always interesting -- but this is nothing more than a sketch, some ghost of an idea for a theme for something. Spaghetti as obsession, as loneliness, spaghetti as symbol of alienation and despair, spaghetti as the unruly mass of chaos it is better to swallow than face. Give me a break.
The narrator can't handle human interaction anymore. People disappear "into the shadows," but there is always spaghetti! A pleading phone call from the ex-girlfriend of a B team friend is the only action here, and our narrator begs off to cook some imaginary spaghetti, then regrets it later, pointedly invoking spaghetti as the stand-in for his loneliness. Curtain.
Come on! Boooo! And I don't blame Murakami. I mean, if I wrote a short sketch about, say, Hostess Cupcakes as a symbol for my shallowness, and my agent sold it to the New Yorker (stop laughing! this is theoretical), what am I going to say? No? Not unless I'm an idiot. "Nineteen eighty-three was the Year of Hostess Cupcakes..." Why the hell not! Print it, you magnificent bastards! Print thousands and thousands of copies, mwa haa haaa!
Or it could be I'm missing something. If so, please elighten me.