There is a new Number 1

I have read almost every work that Neil Gaiman has written. The vast majority of which I have read at least twice, and some (including the entire Sandman run) as many as 4 times. I love Neil Gaiman. I cannot stress this enough, because it gives the correct context the following statement:

Haruki Murakami is my favorite writer of all time.

I have read only 2 of his novels (one I read twice), one short story, and 10 pages of another novel, yet I cannot deny it any longer. This man embodies more of what I hope to be as a writer than Neil Gaiman ever will.

Neil Gaiman has the wonderful humor and the amazing ability of telling engaging and fantastic stories that take you on a wonderful journey.

Haruki Murakami has great humor, and fantastic stories, but for all of their magic and wonder, they are rooted in a more solid reality than you can find with a Gaiman story. Gaiman loves the Faerie, he loves the fantasy. Murakami loves the human, and the world that we inhabit and our pop-culture, even if he can take journeys into strange and magical territory. But what truly takes him to the level beyond Gaiman for me is that Murakami has the ability to smack you in the face every few pages with a phrase or passage that startles you with its perfection.

I have been bad about taking note of the lines and passages that I wanted to, but here are just a few from Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World:

"The mind is nothing you use. The mind is just there. It is like the wind. You simply feel its movements."

"Most human activities are predicated on the assumption that life goes on. If you take that premise away, what is there left?"

(In describing the voice of Bob Dylan:) "It's like a kid standing at the window watching the rain."

As I said, I haven't been very good about taking note of the bits that really hit me, not to mention some of them are pages long (as is the case with the opening to Norwegian Wood. I dare you to read the first chapter of that book and not get sucked in. I dare you to try.) But, the point remains: Haruki Murakami continues to amaze me and continues to pull me in deeper and deeper.