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Sixty-Nine Paperback – February 17, 2006

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Editorial Reviews


Library Journal
"A light, rollicking, sometimes hilarious, but never sentimental picture of late-sixties Japan"

Kirkus Reviews
"A great deal of fun, and Murakami ... is a find."

Los Angeles Times
"The hero is a thoroughly engaging smartass."

Atlantic Monthly
"A superb and very funny bluffer, and one sympathizes with him all the way."

World Literature Today
"Full of humor ... sheer entertainment.

About the Author

Whether writing novels, directing films or playing drums in a rock band, RYU MURAKAMI has remained on the cutting edge of popular culture in Japan. He is the recipient of some of the country's most prestigious awards, including the Akutagawa Prize in 1976 for his debut novel, Almost Transparent Blue, which has gone on to sell over two million copies worldwide; and the Yomiuri Literary Award in 1998 for In the Miso Soup, published by Kodansha in hardcover in the United States in 2003, with a trade paperback edition coming from Penguin in 2006. In 1992, Murakami wrote and directed the film "Tokyo Decadence," which had its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. He also wrote and directed the film version of Sixty-Nine (2004), available on DVD in English. A movie of Coin Locker Babies is scheduled for a 2006/07 release, with a screenplay by Sean Lennon and starring Val Kilmer.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 191 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha USA (February 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9784770030139
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770030139
  • ASIN: 4770030134
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.5 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
Mention the name Ryu Murakami and there are usually visions of nihilism, self-destructive sex and drugs, and a dismal portrait of the scum-encrusted shadow world of the rebellious youth of Japan. After all, this is the author of the novel that spawned the film "Audition" and who wrote the infamous opening lines of "Coin Locker Babies," "The woman pushed on the baby's stomach and sucked its penis into her mouth; it was thinner than the American menthols she smoked..." Pure punk rock on page. No future. So, pick up a book titled "69," the fourth book translated into English by the prolific author, and your expectation is...

...anything but this. Anything but a brilliant, light-hearted, fast-paced trip through the lazy hazy days of the Summer of 69, a time of unprecedented freedom when a guy and his good buddies could throw together a band, a rock festival, and maybe a little bit of student rebellion all for the hope that the prettiest girls in school might be just a little more impressed with them and let them in on that magic secret they keep under their skirts. Don't get me wrong, this is still punk rock, but this is punk rock before it got a name, and still had the skin of innocence and the youthful sheen of tearing things down with hope for a better future. This is just fun.

As he did in "Almost Transparent Blue," Murakami has stitched together his own past with a dream of idealized youth, creating a believable world of kids giving full reign to their impulses, free from the controlling influence of authority. His protagonist in "69," Kensuke Yazaki, didn't exactly just get his first real six-string at the 5 and Dime, but he is the drummer for a garage band that plays the latest Stones and Cream, although they have never had a real gig.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Stevens VINE VOICE on May 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
Although it's not fair to compare Ryu and Haruki Murakami simply because they share the same family name, I couldn't help but feel that "69" was Ryu's "Norwegian Wood." In both stories (interestingly, both were written in 1987 about the year 1969!), the authors take a break from their normal styles and write semi-autobiographical works about their school days. At the same time, it would be a mistake to consider both works fundamentally different from the authors' other works--"Norwegian Wood" is essentially Haruki's other stories without the Sheep Men and mysterious wells, "69" is the essence of Ryu's other works, sans the acid trips and coin lockers.

Ryu's message is simple: You win in life by having fun. Whereas Haruki's protagonists are coolly detached (the main character in Norwegian Wood watches the college demonstrations impassively), Ryu's are fiercely proactive--it's Ken that starts the trouble at his school. Although Ryu finishes "69" with a slightly bittersweet ending, the vast majority of the book is about having fun. Rebellion vs. authority, beauty vs. ugliness, extroverts vs. introverts: "69" has few grey areas. Some people might criticize this lack of complexity as a sign of immaturity, but for me it was refreshing to read a book as optimistic and frank as this one.

"69" will bother people aching for hidden meanings (why do people get bothered when an author actually says plainly what he means?) or some kind of bildungsroman formula involving personal growth (Ryu captures the energy and unabashed egoism of a 17 year old perfectly, rather than burdening Ken with some kind of post-modern angst). But really, who cares? Have fun reading this book!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Hyde Chua on March 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
69 is a light-hearted comedic novel unlike the other three translated novels by the same author, and should not be compared side-by-side with their heavy postmodern themes.

Instead, 69 offers the viewpoint of a youth born in a small Japanese town influenced by western movements of that time, in particular the avant-garde, the political situation and the music of that time. Combining politicos, yakuzas, greasers, rock musicians who only knew how to sing "dontcha know" and play three chords and your average high-schooler, Ryu Murakami has captured a perfect snapshot of youth.

Possible themes involve the concept of American occupation of Japan during that time, Japanese youth and their fickle-minded apathy (combined with a short attention span), but these are only painted with broad strokes as the narrative refuses to dwelve further into these possible issues, although one can guess the author's viewpoint on these issues through their passing mention thereof.

Nonetheless, the time and themes in this novel are immaterial. This novel is skillfully rendered, hilariously portrayed, and light-hearted enough to illicit a laugh from even the most gloomy postmodernists. In the pursuit for heavy meanings, perhaps we have overlooked what 69 represents: it is the beauty of youth that is meant to be lived-- instead of wasted-- that truly counts beneath the mish-mash of social groups presented in this novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 2, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
69 is one of my favorite coming-of-age stories. It contains few enough "insight moments" to remain digestible. But there is something to think about, laugh at, admire, or learn on nearly every page.

I'm not sure how much of the book is based on actual events in Murakami Ryu's life, but the story was realistic enough to keep me engaged. Murakami does a great job injecting humor into the first-person narrative, which also serves to develop the main character of Ken. There is a clear pattern: every 10 pages or so, Ken claims he did something sensible, then contradicts himself with "of course that wasn't the case. Instead, I ______."

Without patronizing the reader, Murakami also touches on subjects like national identity, group membership and influences, Japanese culture, and social biases. Though a quick read 69, is thought-provoking and, to me, very effective in setting up several archetypal characters and subsequently refining some while showing the changes of others. As this mirrors real life - some people change while others seem to be older versions of their younger selves - the character studies in 69 are highly compelling.

I highly recommend 69, especially to those interested in Japan or fans of Murakami Haruki or Natsuo Kirino.
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