I can intellectualize it, find adjectives hinting at its contours, but I struggle to really hear it. “There is a small stand of trees nearby, and from it you could hear the mechanical cry of a bird that sounded as if it were winding a spring.” I feel my way toward it, listening for it on walks or in songs, but then it recedes, an idea I can’t quite get through to. If Haruki Murakami’s novel begins in the ’80s with spaghetti and a lost cat named after the narrator’s brother-in-law, then, like any neo-noir worth its weight in post-war trauma, it ends in murder and the realization that loneliness is physical. This is all there is. This is genre, like fate: if, then. After the cat, the narrator loses his wife. Actually, she loses him. He discovers she is part of another world, like an alternate reality separated from his by a thin membrane, a skin. Or maybe she is no longer in love. What’s the difference? In a story told within this one, a man watches as another man is skinned alive. I watch veils peel back, and violated realities come together -- bridged by metaphors I’ll never get.