'Men Without Women' Is Quintessential Murakami

'Men Without Women' Is Quintessential Murakami

A review of the prolific author's latest short story collection.
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“Men Without Women” is the latest short story collection from acclaimed writer (and possible madman) Haruki Murakami. The seven short stories in this collection take his usual motifs of musical references, literary nods, weird sex and foreboding unreality and put them to use analyzing the lives and thoughts of men separated from, or simply longing for, women in one way or another.

In “Drive My Car,” the opening story, an actor opens up to his new female driver about befriending one of his dead wife’s multiple paramours. “An Independent Organ” follows the decline and death by starvation of a plastic surgeon who finds himself head over heels for a women who, ultimately, leaves both him and her husband for a third man. Even stories where there is a consistent female presence like “Scheherazade” (a reference to the storytelling character from “One Thousand and One Nights”) find the central male character with a state of longing or a fear of loss.

There is melancholy here, even in the most absurd of stories, and mysticism in even the most mundane. The two most quintessentially ‘Murakami’ stories, “Kino” and “Samsa in Love” explore the collection’s themes with a cool and controlled sort of surrealism. The type of mundanity spiked with magic and dream-like atmosphere that he has become known for over his multiple decades writing novels and short stories.

While the first three stories, the more realistic of the bunch, are enjoyable and strong the collection doesn’t reach its heights until after “Scheherazade” the fourth story and the sort of halfway point of the book. “Scheherazade” acts as a bridge between the realism of the first three stories and the heavier magical realism of the last half. The fifth story, “Kino,” tells of a man whose wife cheats on him, leading him to quit his job and open a small jazz bar. By the end of it he is locked alone in a hotel room trying to hide from some unknowable, nightmarish being or concept bearing down on the door and window, hiding under the covers as a child might. As absurd as this progression may sound Murakami’s writing makes it feel like an utterly natural transition.

The most absurd story, and my personal favorite aside from “Kino,” is hands down “Samsa in Love” which takes Franz Kafka’s classic novella “The Metamorphosis” and flips it around in the most Murakami way possible. In “The Metamorphosis” a traveling salesman named Gregor Samsa wakes to find himself transformed into a large, horrendous insect. No explanation is ever given and the story focuses on his internal struggles with what he has become and his family’s attempts to figure out what to do with him. Murakami’s take on Kafka is a complete reversal, finding Gregor Samsa awakening as a human with no memory and a cloudy mind. It is heavily implied that he has transformed from an insect into a man instead of the other way around. What follows is an attempt to figure out how to use his body and a bizarre semi-sexual, emotionally curious interaction with a hunchbacked female locksmith.

As usual if somebody has no love for Murakami’s works then they likely won’t find anything much to jar them out of their distaste in “Men Without Women,” but for those who are curious or who are already invested in his writing it contains another extended jaunt into the weird and thoughtful. A parallel world of casual (bizarre) sex, meandering dreams, death, and abundant melancholia.

Cover Image Credit: NY Daily News

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The 10 Stages Of A 2:30 P.M. Kickoff, As Told By Alabama Students

But we still say Roll MF Tide!

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We all have a love-hate relationship with a 2:30 p.m. kickoff at Bryant Denny Stadium, especially when it's 94 degrees.

1. Immediate sadness

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What do you mean I have to wake up at 9 a.m. to get ready?

2. Bracing yourself for the worst

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It's a marathon not a sprint ladies and gentleman.

3. Accepting the game is going to happen

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Rain or shine we are all in that student section screaming our heads off.

4. Trying to wear the least amount clothes possible without being naked on the Quad

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Is it me or does it get 10 times more hot the minute you walk on to the quad?

5. Shedding a tear when you walk out your front door once you feel the heat and humidity on your skin

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Is it fall yet?

6. Drowning your sorrows inside a Red Solo cup at 11:30 a.m. at a fraternity tailgate

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Maybe I'll forget about the humidity if I start frat hopping now.

7. Getting in line to go through security realizing it'll take an hour to actually get inside Bryant Denny

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More security is great and all but remember the heat index in Alabama? Yeah, it's not easy being smushed like sardines before even getting into Bryant Denny.

8. Feeling the sweat roll down every part of your body

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Oh yeah I am working on my tan and all but what is the point of showering before kick off?

9. Attempting to cheer on the Tide, but being whacked in the head with a shaker by the girl behind you. 

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Shakers are tradition, but do we have to spin it around in a full 360 every two seconds? I have a migraine from just thinking about it.

10. Leaving a quarter into the game because Alabama is kicking ass and you're about to have a heat stroke.

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I'll watch the rest in air conditioning thank you very much!

We may not love the 2:30 kickoffs but Roll Tide!

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I Made Emma Chamberlain's Mediocre Vegan Cookies, And They're Pretty Incredible

Emma and her vegan cookies have made their way into my heart, and are here to stay.

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One day, I went down the black hole that is 'YouTube at 3 am' and discovered my favorite social media influencer of all time: Emma Chamberlain. I started binge watching her videos every night for about a week, where I came across her "Cooking With Emma" series. I decided that I wanted to give her vegan antics a go for myself.

I've never cooked or baked anything with the intention of it being vegan, so not only is that new territory for me, but I've never even eaten a vegan cookie. The only reason I'm doing this is because Emma did, and she is aesthetic goals.

To start the journey of vegan baking, I took to Pinterest, just like Emma, and found this recipe to use. Although the video that inspired all of this used a gluten free recipe, I opted for only vegan, because I'm allergic to most of the ingredients that make things gluten-free.


In true Emma style, I used a whisk to combine the wet ingredients together, making sure to use her special technique.


Then, I did the same thing with the dry ingredients.


After that, I dumped everything together and combined all of the ingredients.


Once they were combined, I chopped up a vegan chocolate bar, because Emma and I like chocolate chunk cookies, not chocolate chip, there's a difference.


Now that everything is combined, I made balls of dough and stuck it on a pan, and baked them while I binged more Emma, because what else would I be doing in my spare time?



The recipe said to make the balls a lot smaller, but we aren't perfect, so I made them gigantic. In my head, I thought the worst thing that could happen was it turn into one big cookie, but that's a whole other video you need to watch.

I took them out of the oven, and they were brown on the top, but still a little doughy. At this point I was tired of waiting and eager to eat them, so I disappointingly set them aside to cool, which only lasted a minute or so before I snagged one up to try.



The taste was definitely one I've never associated with cookies, and came to the conclusion that if I decided to go vegan, it would be doable with these cookies and Emma Chamberlain by my side.



Emma inspired me to get out of my comfort zone, which is a reoccurring theme throughout her channel, and I'm happy to be apart of it. She taught me that even if mediocre cookies is all you have, eat them with pride because you made them yourself.

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