Perhaps rather than review this book, I should just launch into a rant?
This year I created a reading list for myself of books that were my friends absolute favourites. I have some amazing books on this list, and many of them have already been reviewed. Two that forced their way onto the list are Haruki Murakami novels. I’ve read a few Murakami books by now, and loads of people love them. I’ve never been that impressed, but here I am giving them another go.
But they all feel the same to me! There’s always a thing with a cat; it dies, it goes missing, something. The main character is always a massive loser. Whether that’s intentional in some way, like perhaps the main character is meant to be the kind of person on the edge of the society that strange things might happen to, I don’t know, but frankly he’s also usually not very nice. Women in these books are always objects of some kind, often prostitutes. They never behave like real women, they’re all cute, and all want to have sex with the main character, even though he’s pretty awful or average at best. There’s usually a psychic. A strange hotel room. And there’s usually a “wise beyond her years” 16 year old girl who loves hanging with the older, loser guy. Sometimes really bad things happen to the women, and usually the loser kind of accepts it, or shows no compassion.
Basically, I like some of the more surreal elements of the books, and the search for meaning and all that is fine. But the books always feel over long, and kind of sexist. Well, not just kind of. Why do you guys all love this author? Is there something I’m not getting? Genuine question, please feel free to comment below.
Anyway, this book contains all you have come to expect of Murakami, with few surprises, and is very long. Which if you like this kind of thing, means that you probably get very good value. The main protagonist finds that he needs to quit his job to find himself. During his time of unemployment, his wife’s cat goes missing, his wife leaves him for another man after engaging some psychic detectives to look for the cat, and he befriends his 16 year old neighbour. There are also a few characters who come to tell their stories, (which was awesome in American Gods, but awful here). There’s a central mystery of some odd sexually explicit phone calls, and why the wife has left. What should be done about it? And what’s the story behind the empty house down the block? And why is his hateful brother in law involved?
It’s all standard Murakami, which isn’t to stay that it’s standard fiction. I personally didn’t enjoy reading it, but I feel like it was more lost on me than anything. I found it dull, grotesque and long. I didn’t like how one dimensional the female characters were, and how they were treated. But that’s just me. I’m not a fan.
Read It If: You like Murakami or surreal stories, you’ll be happy with this.