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“So that’s my life—or my life before I stopped sleeping—each day pretty much a repetition of the one before. I used to keep a diary, but if I forgot two or three days, I’d lose track of what had happened on which day. Yesterday could have been the day before yesterday, or vice versa. I’d sometimes wonder what kind of life this was. Which is not to say I found it empty. I was—very simply—amazed. At the lack of demarcation between the days. At the fact that I was part of such a life, a life that had swallowed me up so completely. At the fact that my footprints were being blown away before I even had the chance to turn and look at them.”

Haruki Murakami, “Sleep” in The Elephant Vanishes

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The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami

Read: November 2018

Rating: 17 puzzle pieces with undefined edges. They look like they’re all part of the same puzzle, but maybe not?

TL;DR Recommendation: “Barn Burning” by Haruki Murakami

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“Some of the very peasants who had most disputed with him over the hay, those whom he had wronged, and those who had wanted to deceive him, those very peasants had bowed cheerfully to him, quite obviously not bearing, and indeed unable to bear, any grudge against him, or any remorse, or any recollection even of having intended to cheat him. All that had been dissolved in the sea of joyous common toil […] Who was the labor for? What would be its fruits? Those were irrelevant and idle questions.

Levin had often admired this kind of life, had often envied the people who lived this kind of life, but today, especially under the impression of what he had seen of the relations between Ivan Parmenov and his young wife, the idea occurred to him clearly for the first time that it depended on himself alone whether or not to change his wearisome, idle, and artificial personal life for the hard-working, pure, and delightful life.”

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

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“Mama used to tell us a story about a cicada sitting high in a tree. It chirps and drinks in dew, oblivious to the praying mantis behind it. The mantis arches up its front leg to stab the cicada, but it doesn’t know an oriole perches behind it. The bird stretches out its neck to snap up the mantis for a midday meal, but its unaware of the boy who’s come into the garden with a net. Three creatures—the cicada, the mantis and the oriole—all coveted gains without being aware of the greater and inescapable danger that was coming.”

-Lisa See, Shanghai Girls