Thanks to the long weekend, I finished the 600-page tome.
The most memorable was the scene where "the man they call
Yamamoto" was skinned alive by the Soviet and his Mongolian
sidekick. There was scream but no surrender. The man was not
glorified in any way. Captured by the enemy, he simply died
his extreme death. The next memorable were the deaths of the
four Manchukuo cadets (Chinese) for killing their Japanese
instructors. Three were executed via bayonets and one, their
leader, via a baseball bat. Again, not much guesswork on how
they felt. The author didn't dwell on possible Stoic sentiments.
They simply took deaths as they came.
The immediate effect after reading these stories was that this
Sunday morning, my long run didn't feel that painful, not even
in the last mile. I had a poor sleep and the run didn't feel
as good from the start. The joints hurt, sure. But what pain
I was experiencing could be compared with what those guys
(My run, in turn, seemed to affect Tim. He got out of bed, a little grumpy as usual, only when I came back.
"How's your run, dad?"
"17 miles. I feel great!"
"I'm going to do my math."
"Good. You do your job and I do mine."
Without another word (about Sunday or unfairness, e.g.) he finished his work.)
The most memorable quote was: fact may not be truth, and
truth may not be factual. It was the assumption that the
character "Cinnamon" had when he was trying to piece
together stories from the past that led to his life.
The question of which parts of a story were factual and
which parts were not was probably not a very important
one for Cinnamon. The important question for Cinnnamon
was not what his grandfather DID but what his
grandfather MIGHT HAVE DONE.
This seems to be a good reason for fiction.
There was some worldly wisdom, too, through the hero's uncle:
Maybe he really did have a "magic touch," but he also
had a talent for finding capable people to work for him.
He paid them high salaries and treated them well, and
they in turn worked hard for him. "When I know I've got
the right guy, I put a wad of bills in his hand and let
him do his thing," he once told me. "You've got to spend
your money for the things that money can buy, not worry
about profit or loss. Save your energy for the things
that money can't buy."
This was the best Murakami book I've read so far.