The Memory Police, Ogawa – An unexpected philosophical treasure.

“Help!” I wrote to various co-workers over the soul-chilling, world-bending, strange cyber-nowhere named ‘Microsoft Teams’-(I agree, a particularly relaxed and innocuous name for a tool that stresses me, and countless others, out for at least 8-hours, 5-days a week.)

“I need book recommendations, fast. I’ve lost my latest obsession, and I’m dying without something to occupy my mind!”

(Which tends to curl in and feast on itself if a particular subject to obsess about, be it a noun of any kind, is not forthcoming. Have you ever felt the same?)

My co-workers graciously supplied, as you might guess from the title of this post.

The Memory Police was sold to me (as an idea for my Christmas reading list) when my colleague said ‘she’s better than Murakami, IMO.’ I was a little stunned, intrigued, and not ashamed to say that my mouth salivated a little, my eyes grew wider – all the tell-tale signs of someone who has just been delivered a treat…

I read it.

It was incredible. Haunting, real – you know how they say the most famous songs were written with just 4-chords? With Ogawa, it’s a little like that. I bought the Snyder translation (linked in the title above) and even knowing that the bittersweet joy of reading a translation means that something is always lost, I found my mind rendered – ever so slightly – anew. The wording is not overly complicated, but this necklace of sentences wrapped around my throat making me wish that I could write in a way to make someone feel this much.

At least the Japanese have 3 alphabets to work with, we have one 26-letter monolith – making this book all the more fascinating.

I wanted this blog to be more of a lifestyle edge-case archive/repository of all the things I was trying or doing in an effort to help someone else. And, let’s face it, also because I have an ego and like external validation…BUT, I realised something when I was sitting down to decide what path LughLana would take in 2021.

The Memory Police jumped into my head. There are vast chambers built of silent, yet feeling architecture within the book. The other island, the small room, the hidden sculpture studio, the old man’s boat, the corridors and shouting-opulence of The Memory Police HQ, the forest, the church tower (in Ogawa’s main character’s novel.)

It occurred to me just how much I love books like this. It is dystopian, but it doesn’t tell me the details of an underground rebellion. It doesn’t tell me, because it shows everyone. This is what living under a harsh regime can feel like. This is how we keep living when the people, or, things we love the most have been taken from us. The characters celebrate touch, food, community. They fear losing each other, it seemed to me, more than losing anything else.

It’s such a human book. And I love writing and talking about the books I’ve read, it makes me laugh to see my (often) dramatic summary. It makes me feel warm to think someone may read this, and find their favourite book, one day.

That being said, I decided that there will be more book-review content on the site moving forward – because it makes me happy, and I think it makes you all happy, too.

It’s rare that a book one picks up for pure-pleasure reading doesn’t make one feel something. But, this book, made me feel everything.

That’s why I call it an unexpected philosophical treasure.

Where do we go when our voices are silenced? Where do we go when our bodies are taken from us, when we can’t feel our limbs, when slowly, our hearts start to feel cold. Read it, and you’ll understand this line.

Depending on how you like your endings, this may not be a satisfactory novel for you.

But…if you haven’t had a book recently that made your chest shudder and start, feel warm and bereft all at the same time – if you want to find a book that is built to make you feel, then please pick up a copy from your local (independent, if possible) bookstore.

I’ve linked the Amazon version above, just in case. And FYI, absolutely no post is sponsored, nor do I have any affiliations (I just really know what I like to read…)

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