The Strangeness of Everyday Life: Two by Murakami

Two stories by internationally acclaimed Japanese author Haruki Murakami that demonstrate what SHORTS literary commentator Hannah Tinti calls his gift for “capturing the strangeness and hidden mystery of everyday life.”

Symphony Space celebrated the American publication of Murakami’s magnum opus, 1Q84, with a special SELECTED SHORTS evening entitled, “Murakami Madness.”  From that performance we hear first, “Lederhosen,” in which a long marriage breaks up over a pair of shorts.  The reader is Aasif Mandvi, a regular on television’s “The Daily Show,” and Obie winner for his one man show “Sakina’s Restaurant.”

Our second story, “The Ice Man,” depicts a very different marriage, between a young woman and an icy being who holds the world’s past frozen in his body.  Tinti comments:

“I recently went to Alaska, and one of the things that struck me the most, when I saw the glaciers there, was how very, very blue some of the ice was. I was told that the color was because of the compression of the ice over thousands of years.  And that’s what I kept thinking of—that the “ice man” in the story is just like a glacier—he has the ability to look at his wife and know her entire past—just as a glacier has all that history compressed inside.”

The reader of this mysterious tale is SHORTS regular Jane Curtin, whose many television credits include “Saturday Night Live,” “Kate and Allie,” and “Third Rock from the Sun.”

The program closes with a glimpse of Murakami the compulsive record collector by his friend the novelist John Wray.

“Lederhosen,” by Haruki Murakami, performed by Aasif Mandvi

“The Ice Man,” by Haruki Murakami performed by Jane Curtin

For additional works featured on SELECTED SHORTS, please visit

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And for more thoughts on the stories in SHORTS, check out literary commentator Hannah Tinti’s site at

Announcing the 2012 Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize.  This year's theme is “objects of desire.”  The judge is the author Maile Meloy and the deadline is March 2, 2012.