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Found 14 results

  1. From the official Murakami website - “Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father’s dark prophesy. The ageing Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his pleasantly simplified life suddenly turned upside down. As their parallel odysseys unravel, cats converse with people; fish tumble from the sky; a ghost-like pimp deploys a Hegel-spouting girl of the night; a forest harbours soldiers apparently un-aged since World War 2. There is a savage killing, but the identity of both victim and killer is a riddle – one of many which combine to create an elegant and dreamlike masterpiece.” http://www.murakamibooks.co.uk/books/info/?t=Kafka-On-The-Shore Haruki Murakami creates worlds that seem just slightly out of kilter to our existing world. As if he can tap into an alternative universe, one that’s just next door to ours or perhaps just a few doors down. You know the kind of neighbours that always say hello but you’re never too sure about them? The kind who if you were a child you’d believe there were magical things happening in their house. Murakami provides us with riddles within riddles, he weaves plots till you’re left standing at the edge of a mountain that’s not there, in a universe that spins in different directions all at the same time. But he does all this with consummate skill and populates his books with believable and likeable characters. You want to walk in their company. You want to talk with them, look at them understand them a little more. So you walk down your street and you knock on the door of those strange yet enticing neighbours and they invite you in and offer you a drink that fills your world with space and time and wonder and questions. Always more questions. I wouldn’t say I was fully understanding this novel but I was picking up on some of the themes most of the way through until near the end when I think I started to lose it. That drink the otherworldly neighbours were plying me started to take effect and I lost the plot. According to Murakami "Kafka on the Shore contains several riddles, but there aren't any solutions provided. Instead, several of these riddles combine, and through their interaction the possibility of a solution takes shape. And the form this solution takes will be different for each reader. To put it another way, the riddles function as part of the solution. It's hard to explain, but that's the kind of novel I set out to write".[1 Part of me thinks hmm, maybe you’ve created a very clever book and another part of me reads this explanation that “the solution will be different for each reader.” as a cop out. Either way I’ll continue to read Murakami because I like to visit his alternative universes. I like to sit on the edge and look down at nothing but time and space and the infinite wonder of thought.
  2. Can't find a thread to bump on this so starting a new one. This was one of the most wonderful reading experiences I've ever had. The book is no classic but it's wonderfully written and profoundly engaging. I honestly couldn't put it down. The story is fairly straight-forward and involves a man named Toru Watanabe reminiscing about his youth in the late 60s. After his best friend, Kizuki, commits suicide he becomes closer with Kizuki's girlfriend Naoko. They eventually have sex and Watanabe goes to university. Here he meets several characters, most notably Nagasawa and his girlfriend Hatsumi. Watanabe and Nagasawa begin going out drinking and meeting girls for sex. Watanabe then discovers that Naoko is in a sanitorium and struggling with her mental health. He writes to her, eventually visits, and they rekindle their romance. Naoko lives at the sanitorium with an older woman called Reiko (she tells a rather interesting tale about why she's also at the sanitorium which includes a story about teaching a 13-year-old girl to play the piano). The Japanese really do have a way when it comes to writing erotica, don't they? That being said, it felt like there was a little too much sex being used as an alternative to other, more conventional expressions of affection. Maybe that's a Japanese thing. I don't know. Everyone seems to need emotional reassurance but only expresses it through sex. Then again, it was set in the late 60s so maybe that's why. The casual use of sex aside, my only criticism would be the chapter where Murakami jumps ahead and tells us about the future of one of the characters. This felt out of place since the whole narrative takes place chronologically. Only at the very beginning of chapter one does he write from the perspective of being an older man in the late 1980s. Then we dive into the story when he's 18 and stay with that story. But suddenly, halfway through the book, he informs us of a character's fate and it felt a little jarring. I'm reliably informed that this is Murakami's most conventional novel. I'm not sure if I'd like his other works as much but based on this, I will definitely seek out more of his work. I honestly can't remember enjoying reading a book this much. Many people would assume that I might think the book is a masterpiece as a result of that (a mistake many contemporary readers make in my opinion). They think if the reading experience is good then that means the book must be also great. For me, it's more complicated than that. I tend to put books into 4 categories. 1) The reading experience is wonderful. The book resonates, stays with you, changes your worldview, overwhelms you. 2) The reading experience is wonderful. But the book quickly fades from memory, doesn't hold its grip. 3) The reading experience is awful. But the book still somehow resonates, stays with you, overwhelms you etc. 4) The reading experience is awful. The book doesn't resonate, has nothing meaningful to say. Category 4 is thankfully the most rare, followed by 3, then 1. For me, most books (and certainly most contemporary novels) are in category 2, including this. People make the mistake of thinking that if they really enjoyed reading a book then that must mean it is great literature. But often it's merely competently written *cough* Normal People *cough* etc. This is why so many modern novels get hyped, win awards, then disappear completely. I'd place this at the top end of category 2. Highly recommended. 8/10
  3. Murakami’s third novel continues the story of the Rat, a character that featured in the first and second novel. The Rat is once again not the main character, more a catalyst for the exploration of mystery the unnamed narrator is sent on. Apart from the Rat I don’t think anyone is named in the novel. Even the narrator’s girlfriend is just talked about as she etc. As always Murakami heads down avenues of thought that on the surface seem commonplace but with just enough twist to make the tale seem surreal. I always come away from a Murakami book with more questions than answers and perhaps that’s another reason why I love them. They don’t explain everything. Life is mostly an unresolved wander to death and Murakami seems to reflect that in his writing. This novel seems to be the beginning of his interest (obsession?) with religion and cults. Having read some of his later novels I can now see the germinating seeds of thought in this novel. The story flowed easily as good tales of travel and mystery do, possibly making this a good place to start if you want to explore the other horizons found in Murakami’s work. Also even though it is the third in the Rat trilogy you don’t need to have read the first two to follow this story. http://www.murakamibooks.co.uk/books/info/?t=A-Wild-Sheep-Chase#reviewsbox-5
  4. From the official Murakami website “Japan’s most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II. In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife’s missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan’s forgotten campaign in Manchuria. Gripping, prophetic, suffused with comedy and menace, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a tour de force equal in scope to the masterpieces of Mishima and Pynchon.” This is the first Murakami book that hasn’t worked for me. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters and I didn’t care what happened to any of them. When you read one of his books you have to accept that you may not fully understand it but something in the intricate delicate weaving will touch you. Will shine a light into your own psyche, your own undiscovered well of emotion and let you view the world and your own place in it slightly differently. But this novel left me cold. The main character, Toru Okada, is just plain boring. He meanders through the book encountering strange people and just seems to accept without ever questioning why they have suddenly entered his life. Woven through the book is a secondary tale about a Japanese soldier in WW2. This recurring story seems to have no relevance to the main story except to introduce the well into the story. That’s a dry well that Okada takes to sitting in. A very disappointing novel. The last paragraph in the official blurb up above says it is “gripping, prophetic and suffused with comedy and menace”. I have no idea what future it was trying to foretell but it definitely wasn’t gripping except in that way a boring person is when they won’t stop talking to you. And as for comedy and menace this was about as funny and scary as soggy cornflakes. Be interested to know if anyone else has read this and what their thoughts on it are.
  5. Tsukuru Tazaki was ostracised by his four (only) closest friends. He never knew why. Now he tries to find out. Sounds straightforward... Set in the “real” world, with any “magical realism” confined to dreams or third-party tales, there is a real sadness to the story. Tsukuru thinks he is a shallow, unprepossessing person when in fact he has a depth that he hasn’t recognised. He is a likeable person and I found myself involved with his story right from the start. A bit about the story follows. It’s not really a spoiler but just in case... The story is very moving and nicely resolved. Although I didn’t understand the significance of the dreams, etc. The ending was... I can’t decide how I feel about that. The book apparently started life as a short story and kept growing and I think this is reflected in the writing style which is direct and succinct. My only criticism, and it’s a small one, is that the translation (which is excellent) has not been changed to British English for the UK edition.
  6. From my blog... This is strange indeed. I am not a Murakami aficionado, but I know that many are and I would be interested to know whether this is typical of Murakami. Physically it is a lovely thing. Quite small, with an old fashioned library ticket pocket on the front. Inside is a curious tale of a boy on the way home from school who pops into a library to pick up a book. He is taken to a special reading room, run by an odd man who locks him there and says he will be released when he can memorise the contents of the books he wants. What follows is a strange, supernatural and rather suspenseful story rooted in whether escape from the maze of the library basement is possible. The books is beautifully illustrated by Chip Kidd with odd drawings which create an amazing backdrop for the reader to overlay the narrative. It is very short, only 88 pages, but it utterly engrossing.
  7. From the beginning of this sad, brilliant little novel, the city after dark is a creature that seems to live, breathe and pulse. Between the time the last train leaves and the first train arrives, the places: it’s not the same as in daytime, Murakami’s narrator tells us. But what is it? Odd things happen to two sisters, one who can’t sleep and one who can’t wake. The sleepless sister, Mari, is spending the night in fast food restaurants reading from a thick book when trombone-player, Takahashi, stops to talk to her. Later, each is involved in the questioning of a Chinese prostitute who has been beaten up at a nearby love hotel. Meanwhile, Mari’s sister, the beautiful Eri, is watched while she sleeps and as she and her bed are transported somehow inside her television set. And with what seems miraculous discipline, very little is explained, we (the narrator uses the first person plural, inviting us to observe the action as though we’re jointly a camera) move from one scene to another, each section told in a spare and elegant first person prose. The novel is filled with screens and mirrors and strange connections. Shirakawara, responsible for beating up the prostitute, returns to his office and works on his computer, he wants nothing more than not to go home, like Mari, who can no longer bear to watch her sister. Mari’s image somehow remains in a bathroom mirror in the long moments after she has turned and left the room. Eri threatens to be lost forever as the screen behind which she is trapped flickers, its reception waning. The room where she is trapped, looks like Shirakawa’s office. Shirakawara buys a fishcake, and Takahashi later has a fishcake. But why? In the closing pages, morning approaching, we are offered some sort of solution, Is this enough of an explanation? It is all that we are going to receive. And it works, beguiling us into believing in this pitch-perfect, mysterious little book.
  8. 21st November 2011, 12:06 PM tagesmann Moderator Join Date: Feb 2007 Location: South Yorkshire Posts: 2,855 1Q84 was originally published in Japan in 2009-2010 as three separate volumes. Book One and Book Two were published on the same day. Book Three was published a year later. The English translation was published in two volumes. The First is titled 1Q84 Books One and Two. The second volume, published a week later is 1Q84 Book Three. The two main characters are Aomame and Tengo and their storylines alternate a chapter at a time. Without giving too much away... Aomame is a fitness instructor who secretly kills abusive husbands. Tengo is a maths teacher and struggling novelist who is convinced to re-write a story by an unknown author. The book is set in 1984 and the title is a worplay. In Japanese the number 9 is pronounced kyū. There is something strange happening to Aomame's world and she begins to question whether everything is as it seems. She decides to name the year 1Q84 the Q being her questioning reality. Book One was very readable... Last edited by tagesmann : 24th November 2011 at 08:32 PM. #2 21st November 2011, 01:48 PM lunababymoonchild Subscriber Join Date: May 2009 Location: Glasgow Posts: 3,262 Thank you #3 21st November 2011, 04:11 PM Grammath Moderator Join Date: Jan 2005 Location: The Warehouse Posts: 5,169 Please stop posting about these books, tagesmann. I'm still trying to resist investing in them. Will have to stick with the other Murakami books I already own... #4 21st November 2011, 07:20 PM tagesmann Moderator Join Date: Feb 2007 Location: South Yorkshire Posts: 2,855 I am very sorry. It wont happen again. #5 21st November 2011, 08:46 PM lunababymoonchild Subscriber Join Date: May 2009 Location: Glasgow Posts: 3,262 It's my fault. I would have to ask #6 22nd November 2011, 09:25 AM Ailecornum Subscriber Join Date: Apr 2011 Location: Armidale, Australia Posts: 260 No, no, I must leap in here and defend Tagesmann. I saw the 3 in 1 volume of this in the bookshop and, knowing my sore wrists wouldn't stand the weight I went looking for the three as individual ebooks. If you hadn't posted this, Tagesmann, I'd never have bought them because I can't find vol 1 on it's own. So thank you. Also, fascinated by the 9 and Q issue! Postscript: I am being forced to read an earlier Murakami work by an enthusiast in a local book group. So many nagging friends! #7 22nd November 2011, 10:12 AM MisterHobgoblin Subscriber Join Date: Oct 2007 Location: Melbourne Posts: 2,931 Quote: Originally Posted by Ailecornum No, no, I must leap in here and defend Tagesmann. I saw the 3 in 1 volume of this in the bookshop and, knowing my sore wrists wouldn't stand the weight I went looking for the three as individual ebooks. Now I can understand thinking that the whole thing is a bit heavy and looking for three separate paper volumes - but why would you need three separate e-books. Don't e-books weigh an infinitesimal amount? #8 24th November 2011, 08:38 PM tagesmann Moderator Join Date: Feb 2007 Location: South Yorkshire Posts: 2,855 Grammath. This book is rubbish. Well done for not buying it. #9 24th November 2011, 08:46 PM tagesmann Moderator Join Date: Feb 2007 Location: South Yorkshire Posts: 2,855 Has he gone? Good. OMG. I have just finished book 2. I am conflicted about my feelings but know I have to read book 3 now. Book 2 continues from book 1 without a break. But it is different. I am not sure what it was about the development/resolution of some of the issues and the explanation of the deeper story that I struggled with. But I did struggle sometimes. The characters were still sufficiently interesting for me to be engaged, and the story was still developing enough for me to want to know more, and the new material that was introduced was interesting. I guess this felt like the second-half of a novel. After the usual development of characters the story moved towards a conclusion. But it isn't a conclusion because there is a book 3. But book 2 wasn't transitional. Something was wrong and I suspect it was me. I couldn't put it down... #10 24th November 2011, 10:10 PM lunababymoonchild Subscriber Join Date: May 2009 Location: Glasgow Posts: 3,262 So, Grammath aside, would you recommend this set of novels - that which you've read so far, that is? #11 24th November 2011, 10:17 PM tagesmann Moderator Join Date: Feb 2007 Location: South Yorkshire Posts: 2,855 Quote: Originally Posted by lunababymoonchild So, Grammath aside, would you recommend this set of novels - that which you've read so far, that is? Oh, yes! But wait... What will I think after book 3? #12 25th November 2011, 04:19 AM Ailecornum Subscriber Join Date: Apr 2011 Location: Armidale, Australia Posts: 260 Quote: Originally Posted by MisterHobgoblin Now I can understand thinking that the whole thing is a bit heavy and looking for three separate paper volumes - but why would you need three separate e-books. Don't e-books weigh an infinitesimal amount? Completely illogical! No idea what I was thinking....thin air, thin air #13 25th November 2011, 01:56 PM woofwoof Subscriber Join Date: Feb 2007 Posts: 204 I have gone off Murakami since reading "Kafka on the shore" which I think was a terrible book on several levels, and after starting but not finishing "The wind up bird chronicle". His writing style is beautiful but I get the impression that he's one of these authors that makes the story up as he goes along so what you get is a long shaggy dog story (or rather shaggy cat story in the two books above) #14 25th November 2011, 05:51 PM Grammath Moderator Join Date: Jan 2005 Location: The Warehouse Posts: 5,169 Quote: Originally Posted by woofwoof I have gone off Murakami since reading "Kafka on the shore" which I think was a terrible book on several levels, and after starting but not finishing "The wind up bird chronicle". His writing style is beautiful but I get the impression that he's one of these authors that makes the story up as he goes along so what you get is a long shaggy dog story (or rather shaggy cat story in the two books above) I know I'm not supposed to be reading this thread, but I felt I should take issue with your assertions, woofwoof. Like you, I did struggle with The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. I think Murakami works better in brief; check out his short story collection The Elephant Vanishes for a masterclass in the form. Until 1Q84 this was his longest novel. Yes, it is meandering, but very atmospheric, and this is where Murakami excels for me. Its the strikingly off-kilter worlds he creates that make him such an appealing writer, at least to me. Then again, I love a bit of surrealism in my fiction. I can see why Murakami's writing doesn't appeal to everyone, why Norwegian Wood, his most realistic novel (not that that's saying much) is his most popular and why some people have a hard time with Kafka on the Shore, a book where it actually rains cats and dogs and stones change weight. #15 25th November 2011, 10:13 PM momac Subscriber Join Date: Apr 2011 Location: Ontario, Canada Posts: 1,034 I see that Haruki Murakami is one of the nominees in the Guardian's 'Bad Sex' awards. Has anyone else read about this - if you click on the link on the Internet it will probably outline the passage where they think his prose was too extravagant or whatever.
  9. "after the quake" (the title is all in lower case, apparently at the author's insistence) is a slender collection by the Japanese maestro Haruki Murakami, published in English in 2000 and all set in the aftermath of the earthquake which struck Kobe in 1995. Whilst the earthquake itself is not central to any of the six stories, its occurrence does exerts a strong influence. As ever with Murakami, an air of mystery hangs over everything, a sense that more is going on beneath the surface than meets the eye. "UFO in Kushiro" presents us with a typical Murakami protagonist, the complacent electronics salesman Komuro. His wife obsessively watches TV coverage of the earthquake and suddenly leaves him. Shortly afterwards one of his colleagues entrusts him with the delivery of a mysterious package to a remote town where he meets two peculiar sisters. "Landscape with Flatiron", in my opinion the book's weakest story, presents us with Junko, a runaway drawn to an aging artist eatranged from his Kobe parents who obsessively builds bonfires on a local beach. "All God's Children Can Dance" has Yoshiya, the son of a born again mother who has been told his father is the Lord, obsessively searching for the man. He thinks he's found him and tracks his suspect to a remote sports field. From here, "after the quake" really takes off. "Thailand" has tired, stressed Satsuki taking a break upcountry after a conference in Bangkok. She's entrusted arrangements to a scrupulous chauffeur who, after a few days and several references to a man she hates in Kobe, takes her to a local soothsayer for a shattering revelation. The most memorably bonkers story is "Superfrog Saves Tokyo", essentially Murakami does manga without the pictures as the titular frog appeals for the help of Katagiri, a modest middle manager at a bank, with his showdown versus the worm that caused the Kobe earthquake and is now on its way to Tokyo. The last tale is "Honey Pie", a beautiful story of a writer's increasing love for his best friend's wife, whose child obsessively dreams of the Earthquake man. All the trademarks that make Murakami such a distinctively brilliant writer are here: the glacial coolness, the surreal streaks, along with some unexpected wit. I can tell David Mitchell likes this book - "Cloud Atlas" now feels like an attempt to do something similar with even more disparate elements. I'm not sure I'd recommend someone new to Murakami to start with "after the quake", but those in tune with his world will lap these stories up with relish.
  10. I'll confess that I nominated this novel without having previously read it. However, Murakami is among my very favourite authors and, critically at least, this is often regarded as one of his very finest novels, so I had high hopes for it. At over 600 pages, I think this is Murakami's longest book to date. This is a rambling novel, both in terms of the glacial pace at which events unfold and its digressions into the past. My guess is those past events are meant to provide echoes of those in the book's present, but with the ever mysterious Murakami I couldn't be certain. Describing the plot is difficult; this novel is a riddle wrapped inside an enigma. Toru Okada is a typical Murakami narrator - unemployed, apathetic and swept along by the increasingly bizarre happenings around him. Even the goadings of teenage neighbour May Kasahara don't seem to get a rise out of him. The novel opens with the disappearance of the Okadas' cat, named after Toru's politician brother-in-law Noboru Wataya, a man whom the normally laid back Toru hates with a passion. After initial searches prove fruitless Kumiko, Toru's wife, brings in a clairvoyant, Malta Kano, to help. Then, more seriously, Kumiko also vanishes. At the same time, Toru is receiving anonymous 'phone calls from a woman who claims to know him well. Throw in the grisly stories about Malta Kano's one time prostitute sister Creta and, war veteran Lieutenant Mamiya's tales of his time on the Mongolia/Manchuria border in the 1930s Sino-Japanese war and subsequent imprisonment, Toru's increasingly explicit dreams and the strangle blue patch on his cheek that appears from nowhere, the silent Cinnamon Akahasa and his wealthy mother Nutmeg, the apparent possessor of spiritual powers and witness of a massacre of zoo animals during the same war and you have a novel full of tangled threads that sort of resolve themselves in a denouement in the mysterious Room 208. Perhaps the novel's reputation rests on the fact that this is the most Murakami-esque of Murakami novels. The atmosphere of a Murakami story is not quite like those by any other writer I've come across - apparently simple prose describing hauntingly surreal worlds of mystery, unease and tension and full of philosophizing characters - and, of the five books of his I've read, this is the most extreme example I've come across so far. I can't tell you even a week after finishing it if "The Wind Up Bird Chronicle" is a work of profound genius or self-indulgence. Possibly, it is both.
  11. Rescued Thread. Put in 21st Century rather than original 20th Century Foruma s Fantastic Fiction says it was published in 2001 Hazel 10th May 2006, 09:13 AM Just finished reading this a couple of nights ago. I picked this up because Mr IB has been recommending HM for a while, and he always seemd to generate discussion. Out of the limited selection in my local Borders, I chose this book in particular because the synopsis sounded intriguing and it was a slight book to read to get a quick feel for this author who I have never tried before. I did enjoy reading this book, and not having read Murakami before, I can't really comment on the translation, but it seemed like a smooth translation and kept quite poetic. I didn't like the character Sumire too much - she was too self involved, self respective for me. But I really enjoyed the narrator, K's voice. It was rational and understanding despite his deep love for the oddness that was Sumire. I think I will have to read it again at some point to fully 'get' it - but nevertheless I really enjoyed it and hopefully I will add some more HM to my TBR pile. Mr.InBetween 10th May 2006, 09:30 AM I’m glad you enjoyed it and will use it as a probable gateway into more HM. This is by far not one of his strongest work, but certainly a good book. Norwegian Wood is cited by some as their personal favourite, which is also a very solid book, but those 2 and South of the Border, West of the Sun I’d slightly categorise as HM’s…”romances”. The later having a bit of a feel for HM’s more…’off beat(?)’ stuff. So liking one ‘type’ of his books doesn’t’ mean appreciation of the other. I know many who do not like the 3 listed above. If not wanting to delve right away into one of his novels, as you’re a fan of the lovely short story format, The Elephant Vanishes is a very, very good collection. Almost flawless. after the quake is, for me, however equally as bad. The new one I have very little hope for as his newer stories are pretty weak (it will have some older stories for the first time in English, so that’s nice). I’ll look and see if I have any notes of Sputnick and try to get a real conversation going instead of just title dropping. If mem serves that’s the one where someone was (rubbing brains cells together) drinking an espresso “as thick as a demon’s blood”.
  12. When I nominated this novel as the BGO Group Read, I argued that Murakami wrote magical realist novels even though the term is usually applied to work of Latin-American origin. This was my fifth Murakami book, and I certainly considered some of the previous novels I'd read, particularly "Kafka on the Shore", met the criteria. In the early stages, I had a horrible feeling that the novel I'd picked wasn't actually a magical realist one; it isn't a consistent feature of Murakami's work. However, the dream sequences, the mark on Toru's cheek, Nutmeg's apparent powers and the later encounters in Room 208 later on made me revise my opinion. Do others agree?
  13. This was my first venture into Murakami short stories, having read three of his novels over the past year. For writers who mainly produce novels, I find that they see short stories as an opportunity to really let themselves off the leash. Often there are experiments, not always successful, as if they are the equivalent of the single B-side (in the days when musicians took B-sides seriously). Somehow, they seem to be more themselves, if that makes sense, and that was certainly true in this case. Thus, there's a healthy dollop of surrealism, even more than in the novels. A man asks to be possessed by a dancing dwarf in order to impress a girl but with almost catastrophic consequences. A woman discovers she no longer needs to sleep and her life is transformed. An elephant vanishes. There's also melancholy. He describes seeing the 100% perfect girl on a beautiful April morning, and it is lovely but just a fleeting glance. A shopping trip to buy lederhosen for her husband leads a woman to realise how empty her marriage is. One thing that many short stories writers are prone to that Murakami avoids here is the tendency to end the story on an ambiguous note. His endings, even if they are low key, seem decisive. I have come across few writers who excel in both short and long forms, but I can add Murakami to that list. The man appears to be able to do no wrong when he puts pen to paper. Marvellous.
  14. I'm sure we had quite lengthy threads on this great Japanese novelist, but they seem to have been more sad victims of The Great Crash of 2007. This is my third of Murakami's novels in the space of 12 months, and the shortest. At less than 200 pages, it would be a great place to start; "Norwegian Wood" is often recommended for this purpose but this is quite similar in content and style as well as being less than half its length. Narrator Hajime is a typical, somewhat passive, Murakami protagonist, solitary, bookish and into music. He is an only child, unusual in postwar Japan apparently, and teased at school as a result until, at the age of 12, he meets another, Sanimoto. She is a polio victim, and has a pronounced limp as a result, but Hajime is captivated by her, although their ages means their relationship is very chaste. However, he moves away to another part of town and a different school and loses touch as a result. Hajime drifts aimlessly through his teens and twenties, taking a dead end job at an educational publisher. He loses his virginity to a girl called Izumi, but their relationship ends badly, which Hajime feels guilty about and comes back to haunt him. He then marries Yukiko, the daughter of a wealthy construction magnate, with whom he has two daughters. His father-in-law helps him to start a jazz club, a job for which he realises he is well suited. On the surface, Hajime's life seems perfect, until Sanimoto walks back into it and he realises he is still obsessively in love with her. However, she will reveal very little about herself and her circumstances, and disappears for long periods of time. Hajime wrestles with his conscience about what to do next. "South of the Border, West of the Sun" does not come with the surrealist touches of other Murakami novels like "Kafka on the Shore" - no talking cats here. However, Hajime is a sympathetic character I liked very much and the prose is beautifully simple. Highly recommended.
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