Haruki Murakami and Shigesato Itoi: Let’s Meet in a Dream (Yume de Aimashou)
Let’s Meet in a Dream is a collection of short-short stories (or perhaps short-short-short stories) by Haruki Murakami and Shigesato Itoi, originally published in 1981.
The stories range from one to five pages long, although according to Murakami, these are not quite “stories.” Rather, the book is just a collection of random, aimless pieces of light-hearted writing that Murakami and Itoi clearly enjoyed making.
In a preface, written on the occasion of the book’s 1986 reprinting, Murakami explains it this way:
Once in a while, someone will bring up Let’s Meet in a Dream and the “collection of dialogues” between Itoi and myself. This, however, is clearly a mistake. Let’s Meet in a Dream is not a dialogue—but what, then, is it? I haven’t been able to find a good answer to this question.
Let’s Meet in a Dream is neither a short story collection nor a book of essays, nor is it a miscellaneous mix of assorted manuscripts. In short, I guess it’s a book of enigmas. From its very conception this book has always harbored mysteries. After all, every single chapter title sprawled across the book is written in katakana. The two of us, Itoi and I, just hammered out these stories, or essays, or whatever, and threw them all together. And now that I think about it it’s an incredibly unique—assertive, even—concept that I can’t quite make any sense of. It’s usually pretty confusing to figure out why we inadvertently write some words in katakana, anyway. But to that end, there exists an underground power plant by the name of Nariyuki (written in katakana), for which this book owes its successful completion and chance to see the light of day.
The result, to me, is as follows:
What do you think?
I personally had a great time just working on it fifty-fifty with Shigesato Itoi.
The title, Let’s Meet in a Dream, was his brainchild. I’m not quite sure of the exact meaning behind it, either, but maybe it’s just saying, “Read this when you go to bed.” Or maybe it was some attempt between Itoi and I to meet up in some dream. Either way, the book is a complete mystery, from the tip of the title all the way down to the heart of the concept.
At the end of each chapter, there’s an “i” for Itoi or an “m” for Murakami. I think you’ll be able to figure us out without looking, though.
The book was originally published as a hardcover on November 25, 1981 through Tojusha. The table of contents just lists all of the stories with their simple, self-explanatory titles in Japanese alphabetical order. Here is a list of the short-shorts divided by author:
|Indian||Shigesato Itoi||Philip Marlowe Part 1|
|Elevator||Shangri La||Philip Marlowe Part 2|
|Oil Sardine||Jungle Book||Brassiere|
|Onion Soup||Sweet Sue||Blue Suede Shoes|
|Kama Sutra||Squeeze||Blueberry Ice Cream|
|Cutlet||Stereotype||Playboy Party Joke|
|Cool Mint Gum||Talcum Powder||Match|
|Grape Drops||Charlie Manuel||Mat|
|Coffee Cup||High-Heeled||Love Letter|
|Apartment||Condor||Chewing Gum Part 1||Hotel|
|Part-Time Job||Surfer||Chewing Gum Part 2||Ponytail|
|Interior||City Boy||Death Match||Mirror Ball|
|Etiquette||Shortstop||Dog Food||Last Scene|
|Campfire||Xerox||Haruki Murakami||Wan (Bow-wow)|
|Quiz Show||Ice Cream||Handsome|
The book was rereleased on June 15, 1986 by Kodansha. In this edition, Itoi added one more story, “Special Issue.” Murakami removed the following stories from the original print:
Philip Marlowe Part 2
And added the following stories:
There’s a long-standing rumor among fans of Itoi’s 1995 videogame, EarthBound, that a segment of the script was actually taken from this book. Hidden in a drawer in a piece of oceanfront property purchased by the unwitting player is the following sensationalist fragment:
“My Secret Life, chapter three.” (Story from the previous chapter.)
I was neither a murder suspect, nor a target for an international spy organization. But I drove a car down the Jersey Turnpike at 80 mph….
A police officer pulled me over and asked for my driver’s license. He said I was going 20 mph over the speed limit. I instantly pointed to my wife and said “I’m in a hurry, my wife is in labor.” Fortunately, my wife actually had a big stomach. I hoped he’d let me go with this excuse.
“Oh, since it’s an emergency. I’ll lead you to the hospital with my police car,” he said.
“No, it’s not necessary.”
“Why not?” asked the officer.
“Let’s get going,” said the officer…
“No, no! We can’t! This baby is a demon child!”
The rumor was first propogated by Tim Rogers in his lengthy article about the game:
Mother 2 doesn’t let you look in dressers. However, in this purchased house, you can look in the dresser. Should you look, you are rewarded with . . . a magazine. You can’t even carry this magazine with you. After reading it, Ness throws it back in the dresser. The story Ness reads, which comes from the Let’s Meet in a Dream collection Shigesato Itoi wrote with Haruki Murakami, is basically this: a man and his wife go out to dinner and have an argument. On the drive back, the man is driving at dangerous speeds because of his anger. His wife isn’t talking to him. He drives so fast that he gets pulled over by a police officer. The cop asks him if he has any idea how fast he was going. The man breaks out into a sweat. He then screams at the cop, “You don’t understand — my wife is . . . pregnant!” The cop believes this. “She’s . . . going into labor!” The cop asks if there’s anything he can do. The man screams, “No! Stay back! This is a . . . demon child!”
But a look through both versions of Dream turns up no version of this story. (His recap of the in-game magazine article, of course, is also wrong.) There is also no rumor or even question of the magazine’s origin on the Japanese side of the internet; it’s probably just something Itoi wrote along with the rest of the game script. In length and content it’s totally congruent with the kind of weird short-shorts peppered throughout Let’s Meet in a Dream, but unfortunately this meeting is just a coincidence.