As many of you know, and the name of my blog probably gives away, I’m a big fan of the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. He’s just published a new non-fiction book about his extensive collection of T shirts. The publishers Vintage – part of Penguin Random House – ran a competition for a signed copy of the book and a unique T shirt commemorating the title. You had to submit your favourite Murakami-related T shirt photograph and explain why.
So I’m in Tokyo in 2013 buying the first copy of his then latest novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage in Japanese on launch day at Kinokunia Bookstore in Shinjuku, wearing an 1Q84 T shirt I’d obtained by queuing outside Foyles in London for the midnight release of the trilogy 1Q84 in 2011. Dee and I even appeared in an Evening Standard feature about the launch. Well it demonstrated my Murakami credentials and I won a prize! I never win prizes.
And then it had to be added to the extensive collection of Murakami titles which are fully referenced in the Our Murakami library section of this blog.
The book itself is a marvellous revelation of some personal aspects of Murakami’s life which he seldom reveals. It’s generally known that he has a massive collection of vinyl albums – estimated at 10,000, but who knew he also gets T shirts wherever he goes. There is a chapter on record shop T shirts of course but also on surfing shirts. In one great anecdote he tells of his delight but also shyness at meeting a famous surfboard designer Dick Brewer whose boards he’d used for a long time. Richard Brewer was now working as an estate agent showing Murakami round a property in Hawaii. “So you have the same name as the surfboard designer,” Murakami observes. “I am Dick Brewer but my wife said I’d never get anywhere surfing all day, so I had to get a proper job.” There’s a good plug for Guinness too alongside a T with the famous badge:
Travelling in Ireland I’d stop at local pubs and be amazed that the temperature and amount of foam in the glass would vary and the taste would be different too. I continue to order Guinness in all sorts of towns – in fact I could down a Guinness right now – but I’d better finish writing this first.
Well Cheers Vintage and Cheers Haruki. I finally won something and something I’m very pleased to add to my (comparatively) tiny T shirt collection. And if you’d like to know more about this fascinating book go here.