I redirect you once again to the wonderful Three Percent blog for my latest review on Ryu Murakami's forthcoming in English Popular Hits of the Showa Era.
Every book I read by Ryu has to live up to Coin Locker Babies, which is one of my favorite books of all time, which means Popular Hits has a lot to live up to. I liked the book enough as I read it (most of it not under ideal conditions either - waiting around in the ER), but now that some time has past I realize it's grown on me quite a bit. It's just so absurd. Even though all the characters are pretty much inherently unlikable, what happens is just so whacked out it's hard to not read it with a smile (of course be prepared for grimaces too, I think).
One of the fun things about the book that didn't make it into my review is how all the chapter titles are actual popular songs from the Showa Era, aka, 1940s through 70s, which are now considered enka, I guess. Although these songs were originally all sorts of kinds of pop, rock, and jazz, performances of them now are actually kind of enka-ized - compare this original performance to this more modern one as performed by the same group - guitars become strings and horns. Admittedly, some of them were basically enka to begin with.
As a bonus to my handful of readers who I assume exist somewhere out there, here's a complete list of the songs used as chapter titles:
Chapter 1: Season of Love - Pinky and Killers: Koi no Kisetsu
Chapter 2: Stardust Trails - Akiko Kikuchi - Hoshi no Nagare ni
Chapter 3: Chanchiki Okesa - Minami Haruo - Chanchiki Okesa
Chapter 4: Meet me in Yurakucho - Frank Nagai - Yuurakuchou de Aimashou
Chapter 5: A Hill Overlooking the Harbor - Hirano Aiko - Minato ga Mieru Oka
Chapter 6: Rusty Knife - Yujiro Ishihara - Sabita Knife
Chapter 7: After the Acacia Rain - Sachiko Nishida - Acacia no Ame ga Yamu Toki
Chapter 8: Love Me to the Bone - Takaya Jou - Hone made Aishite
Chapter 9: Dreams Anytime - Sayuri Yoshinaga & Yukio Hoshi - Itsudemo Yume wo
Chapter 10: Until We Meet Again - Kiyohiko Ozaki - Mata Au Hi Made
Feel free to use this guide as your reading soundtrack when you pick up your own copy January 2011.