Deal Me In – Week 46 Wrap Up


A little behind schedule getting this posted as i was “out late” last night at the Colts game (which was a disaster for the home team, ugh). Anyhoo, here we are:

Only a few cards left now… Below are links to new posts this week.

It’s time for James to shuffle up as he drew his last two cards, getting Haruki Murakami’s “The Rise and Fall of Sharpie Cakes” and Henry James’s “The Figure in the Carpet James becomes the first of us to complete his 52 stories this year. Can’t remember everything he read? His original roster can be found at:

Dale read the oft-anthologized James Baldwin story, “Sonny’s Blues”

Randall read Bruce McAllister’s “The Boy in Zaquitos” from the Best American Short Stories anthology of 2007.

I read Katherine Vaz’s “Fado” and continue to enjoy one of my favorite new to me authors of 2014.

Return Reader delivers four new posts:
On George Saunders’s “Sea Oak”

On Olufemi Terry’s “Stickfighting Days”

On Saki’s “The Mouse”

On Ray Bradbury’s “The Veldt”

Katherine wrote about Matthew Costello’s “The Final Vanish” and shares a video of another famous vanishing…

Deal Me In – Week 38 Wrap Up


What did we read this week? Check out the links below…

James read two “island stories” – James Hersey’s “To The End of the American Dream” and Haruki Murakami’s “Man Eating Cats”

Randall read Oliver Wendell Holmes’ “A Visit to the Asylum for Aged and Decayed Punsters

Dale read G.K. Chesterton’s “The Red Moon of Meru

Katherine read “Just a Little Bug” by P.D. Cacek

I read “The Business of Madame Jahn” by Vincent O’Sullivan

Deal Me In – Week 36 Wrap Up



New Deal Me In Posts This Week:

Randall shares a funny(!) tale from Edgar Allan Poe, “The Angel of the Odd”

James reads Haruki Murakami’s “The Year of Spaghetti” and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Arrangers of Marriage”

Dale tries on Junot Diaz for the first time, with that author’s story, “Edison, New Jersey

Katherine read Raymond Feitz’s “Geroldo’s Incredible Trick”

I read Nikolai Gogol’s signature story, “The Cloak

Other Short Story-related links:

Are short stories “annoying buzzing insects set upon this world” to distract writers from longer works? Interesting article.

Nice interview with Margaret Atwood (I love her) and her new short story collection.

I particularly liked the following quote from her:

“I talk about money and artistic excellence and there’s only four forms: There’s a good book that makes money, there’s a bad book that makes money, there’s a good book that doesn’t make money, and there’s a bad book that doesn’t make money. So of those four, the first three I can live with.” 🙂

Margaret Atwood


Another review of the upcoming Atwood release is at

I’m a big fan of this series and it has contributed many stories to my Deal Me In short story decks. The 2014 edition comes out next month.

Deal Me In – Week 28 Wrap Up


Below are links to new Deal Me In posts since out last update. Five new stories for your perusal…

I would prefer not to give too much away, but Dale read a great story – Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener”

James read Haruki Murakami and John Hersey this week, comparing their two stories “Firefly” and “A Game of Anagrams,” respectively. Will he find a connection? And which will he like best? Find out at

Katherine drew a wild card and decided to go with Leonid Andreyev’s story, “Lazarus,” making it the third(?) “twin” (two of us reading the same story) we’ve had this year. Find out what she thought of it at Will we be blessed with any “triplets” before the year is over? I guess remaining wildcards still at large do make at a possibility…

I read Vladimir Nabokov’s “That in Aleppo Once…” Trivia points go to anyone who knows from what Shakespeare play Vlad lifted that title. Or how to pronounce Vlad’s last name… 🙂

That’s it for now. See you next week!

Deal Me In – Week 16 Wrap Up


Happy Easter to all! I hope everyone is enjoying the weekend and maybe some nice spring weather like we had here in Indiana today. Below are links to the new posts I’ve found since the last update. Please take a moment if you can to visit your fellow Deal Me In-ers blogs and explore what stories they read this week – maybe you’ll find one you’ll want to add to your list. 🙂

Dale’s ten of spades was Graham Greene’s “The End of the Party”

James paired Haruki Murakami’s “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” with Christopher Barzak’s “We Do Not Come in Peace”

I read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Mrs. Bullfrog” as prescribed by my six of spades

It’s the jack of hearts and Robert Silverberg’s story “Crossing Into the Empire” for Katherine this week:

And, from Hanne, the queen of spades yielded Lorrie Moore’s “How to Talk to Your Mother”

Deal Me In – Week 15 Wrap Up


Below are links to the stories I found that are new since last week’s wrap up post. If I’ve missed one, or if you finished after my publishing this, you may share a link in the comments and/or I will include it next week. Until then, happy reading!

Oh, and as always I encourage everyone to read each other’s posts, leaving a comment or “some other evidence” of your visit. 🙂

James read Haruki Murakami and Grace Paley: “A Perfect Day for Kangaroos” and “Zagrowsky Tells“, respectively.

Dale read his four of spades entry, “Kaleidoscope” in Ray Bradbury’s classic collection, The Illustrated Man:

Returning Reader’s nine of clubs was Dambuzdo Marechera’s story, “Oxford Black Oxford

My ten of diamonds led me from Transylvania to the Indian Ocean as I read Fredrick Marryat’s “The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains

Katherine presents another “magical” post, featuring “Disillusion” by Edward Bryant

Hanne drew “Richard Wagner’s two of hearts” (from what has become my new favorite novelty deck of cards) and read the Louise Eldrich story, “Love Snares.”

If you’re looking for some extracurricular short story reading and are a fan of dystopian literature, check out my preceding post about the anthology, “Perfect Flaw.”

Deal Me In Week 7 Wrap-Up


Greetings all! A great week of reading for me here, figuratively snowed in and not motivated too much to go out so it’s option B – stay home and read! Below are links to everyone’s stories that I found since our update last Sunday. Make sure to pop over to your fellow DMI participants’ blogs and see what they’ve shared with us this week.

Dale at Mirror With Clouds ( ) reads his 2nd Edith Wharton story in a row, “The House of the Dead Hand”

Two weeks, two Edith Wharton (below) stories for Dale.  That’s one per dog. 🙂


Returning Reader ( )drew the ace of hearts and read Liam O’Flaherty’s “The Sniper

Katherine at The Writerly Reader ( ) is taken away to Montana in Eric van Lustbader’s “The Singing Tree.” (Her post includes a great clip of a Penn & Teller “magic trick” too)

We also have a couple stories from Candiss at Read the Gamut (  –  Haruki Murakami’s “Samsa in Love” and Sherman Alexie’s “Saint Junior”

Hanne of Reading on Cloud 9 brings us her four of clubs, Lorrie Moore’s “Referential” – another story from the pages of The New Yorker.

For my part, I drew the Queen of Diamonds which led me to Glen Hirshberg’s creepy ghost story, “The Two Sams.”

And as a DMI ’extra’ I read Donald Hall’s short story “Argument and Persuasion” for a local discussion group. It presents an interesting question that I’ve shared with my readers. If you have time and would like to play along, it’s at

Happy reading & see you next week!

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami


“Only the real wind-up bird could make the sound. Only the wind-up bird could wind the world’s spring the way it was supposed to be wound.”

I doubt I would make a very good protagonist in a Haruki Murakami novel. I am too much the skeptic, too much grounded in “the real world.” Adherence to the real, physical laws of the world is “optional” for the characters in his books – at least in the ones I’ve read anyway. The splendid novel, “The Wind-up Bird Chronicle” is no different. I’d guess also that Murakami is a firm believer in the concept of fate, and that concept is one of the things he explores in this book, which will be very hard for me to describe or summarize. Here’s a feeble effort, though…

What is the wind-up bird in the title? Well, it’s an unseen (but not unheard) bird that sings a strange song outside the house of Toru Okada every morning – a sound that resembles the winding of a spring. There is a mystical quality to the bird’s call, almost as if it is winding a watch that becomes the day ahead for Okada and the other characters in the book. When he stops hearing the bird, the real-ness of the world he knows begins to unravel.

He begins to encounter changes and difficulties in his life. His cat disappears, his wife, Kumiko, leaves him, he meets a strange teen-aged girl who lives in a house down the street. He discovers a dried-up well on an abandoned property down the alley. He likes to go down into the well to think about things. (These episodes are explorations in the art of sensory deprivation, I think). He is visited by an old man, a veteran who is delivering an inheritance from an old acquaintance, Mr. Honda, who has passed away. After one interlude in the well, Okada emerges with a strange blue-black mark on his face that is not a bruise and won’t go away. Perhaps it is this mark which leads the mysterious woman, “Nutmeg,” to befriend him and look after him to some degree.

The novel becomes a surreal detective story, as Okada searches for his wife, even though her “goodbye letter” says she doesn’t want to see him again. There is also the influence of a nefarious and powerful brother in-law (with seemingly supernatural powers) who must have something to do with Kumiko’s disappearance and might be preventing her from contacting Okada (the brother in-law never really approved of the marriage). How do all these things tie together? Murakami leaves most of the heavy lifting on that count to the reader. I was a little disappointed that there were so many loose ends at the book’s conclusion. Somehow this didn’t make me like it less, however. Murakami seems to have a knack for writing things that, written by anyone else, would likely seem ridiculous and contrived. In this novel, the thin-ness of reality is explored, and a sense of intertwining fate is prevalent.

Oh well, i don’t feel like i did a particularly good job of describing this one, but if you find yourself looking for a little reading to escape the hum-drum reality of your day to day world, you should consider taking a sojourn with one of Murakami’s novels. The Japanese title of this book is “Nejimakidori kuronikuru.” I would struggle to pronounce that myself, but I like to imagine it sounds beautiful if spoken by a native Japanese speaker. I also learned that a couple chapters of the book were published in the New Yorker magazine as short stories.

(author Haruki Murakami; yes, he has this cat obsession thing going on…)


(Below: Vassily Ivanchuk <foreground>, the brilliant and erratic genius & chess grandmaster from Ukraine. He’s long been one of my favorite chess players. What does he have to do with this post? That’s a fair question. Last year, while being interviewed at the annual tournament in Gibraltar he was asked what he liked to read. In his rich, thick Ukrainian accent he said “I particularly enjoy the novels of… Murakami.” That made me smile, and somehow I was not surprised.)


Now Reading: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami


An isolated alley. A strange, teenaged neighbor girl who fakes a limp. A mysterious bird that (though never seen), rooster-like, heralds each new day. A mysterious woman with a red-vinyl hat. A despicable brother-in-law. A missing cat named after a despicable brother in law. I can almost imagine author Haruki Murakami having a hat full of little strips of paper on which things like this are written, and pulling a dozen or so from them when it’s time to write a new story or novel. Well, maybe two hats. Since it’s Murakami, one would have only strips of paper that somehow relate to a cat or cats. The items above are some of those he drew from the hat in order to write the novel The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

I’m about two-hundred pages into this novel so far. It hasn’t been my favorite Murakami by any stretch, but as usual it has just the right mixture of hints of the supernatural and prosaic daily activity (I’m sure I’ve read about his characters preparing more meals than any other writer’s) . The main character, Toru Okada, is low-key and relatively unambitious personally, but since he’s “the same character” I’ve found in all of the Murakami novels I’ve read thus far (well, at least he has the same “voice” anyway), I’m finding the fictional landscape comfortable and the reading easy. I should wrap this up by the end of the month and will report back on my thoughts.

Have you read this one? It will be my fourth Murakami, after 1Q84, Norwegian Wood, and Sputnik Sweetheart. Which Murakami work should I tackle next after this one?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top of The Summer To Be Read List

Each Tuesday, the book blog “The Broke and the Bookish” hosts a “Top Ten Tuesday” meme. Hundreds of fellow book bloggers participate. It’s a great way to discover and connect with new blogs and bloggers. This week’s topic: “Top Ten Books at the Top of My Summer To Be Read List.” Here are mine, not in any particular order:


1. The Windup Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

I count Murakami as one of the great “discoveries” resulting from my joining the book blogging community over three years ago. I’ve wholly enjoyed everything I’ve read by him thus far. This is one of his most acclaimed books. I just bought it and can’t wait to get started.


2. St. Patrick’s Batallion by James Alexander Thom

This will be my second Thom read of the year, after finishing the wonderful “Panther in the Sky” (fictional biography of Tecumseh) in January. I was already aware of this title (published in 2006) but became further intrigued a couple Fridays ago when the author was at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, which had a “birthday party” for him and his wife Dark Rain Thom. The book covers a little known story from the Mexican American War.

3. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

Recommended by many, set in the American Southwest, and by another new favorite author. How could I go wrong with this one?


4. Driving Alone: A Love Story by Kevin Lynn Helmick

Not generally well-known, but I read about this one in the New York times book pages. Sounded really good. More of a novella at just over 100 pages, it only has 12 reviews so far on Goodreads…

5. The Daylight War by Peter Brett

I wrote about Peter Brett’s “Demon Cycle” books quite awhile back.  Not my normal genre, but I thoroughly enjoyed the first two, as have many of my reading friends. Shout out to the Borough of Books blog too, where I first learned of them.


6. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

Long on my list, I finally obtained a copy this year. Tonight at the last meeting of the season of my Great Books Foundation reading group, I’ll propose this as a candidate for our summer novel to read before the next meeting in September. I’ll still read it either way…

7. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Heard of this book through a coworker, Jeri, and have since seen it mentioned on many other book blogs. An intriguing premise with the 2011 Tsunami as a backdrop, it sounds irresistible.


8. Who Owns the Future? by John Lanier

This non-fiction book will likely be one that causes me to lose some sleep. About the digital revolution and its consequences, it’s another one I first heard about via The New York Times.


9. The Brotherhood of the Grape by John Fante

A friend has been nudging at me to read this for awhile now, even gifting me his second-hand copy. This summer will be the time I get it read.


10. In The Devil’s Territory by Kyle Minor

This one will satisfy my short story sweet tooth. Highly acclaimed, I’m really looking forward to reading these. I learned of this book through the blog of The Missouri Review


11. The Shift Omnibus – Hugh Howey

Prequel to the self-published e-book blockbuster, “Wool” (which I read and thoroughly enjoyed earlier this year), this may be the one I’m most looking forward to. You better not disappoint me, Mr. Howey… 🙂

Sorry, I guess that’s eleven. I must have mis-counted in my prep work. I don’t want to bump any of these, though. 🙂  Is it too nerdy to say that just coming up with this list makes me want to take the day off and start reading NOW?  I hope not.  I can’t do that anyway… <sigh>

What about YOU? What’s on your list? Will we be reading any of the same books this summer? Tell me all about it. 🙂

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