Haruki Murakami

The secret to his success. Hint: It’s not great writing.

Nathan Heller

Who’s ripping off whom, though? When writers like Chabon, Franzen, and Smith speak about their efforts in those novels, they tend to discuss a “return” to old values or long-lost literary pleasures. What joins the books is an effort to escape from the constraints of high-literary formalism through the early thrills of storytelling: In an essay called “The Pleasure Principle” not long ago, Michael Chabon described his creative ideal as reclaiming “entertainment as a job fit for artists and for audiences, a two-way exchange of attention.” To some extent, writers like Chabon are merely discovering what Murakami already knew. His work for years now has sought to send readers back to an earlier period of their own aesthetic joy, to bring fiction back to its childlike, ecstatic roots.

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