This is the most difficult Murakami read for me and it took me a long time to finish. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good book, it is actually a very good one, it just took me longer than usual to comprehend what Murakami is trying to tell me. 🙂 I’ve read somewhere that the English translation by Jay Rubin cut three chapters from the Japanese version. Maybe the deleted chapters would have helped me understand the book more. Anyhow…
I don’t know how to say this right but for me, the book isn’t a total page-turner compared to his other books. Not because the story isn’t interesting enough. It is actually very interesting, however, it took me time and effort to digest its content. Even halfway through the book, I still didn’t understand where the story is heading.
Toru Okada resigned from a job he finds meaningless, but also refused to get a job because it is what the society expects. And so begins Toru’s dropping out of the society. One day, he was cooking spaghetti. The phone rings. A mysterious caller. The cat disappeared. A few days later, his wife, Kumiko, disappeared as well. Toru drops further and further out while in search them. An ordinary start that lead to a very complex story. So, even if this was given to me without the author’s name on it, I would certainly identify that this is a Murakami work.
The Manchurian thread are the best parts of the book for me though I don’t really quite understand how it would resonate with the rest of the book. Or does it have to? And what exactly is he trying to say about the war? Is it to show the violence in Japan’s past? It’s one of the reasons I’m left unsure after I finished reading. Should the different plots fit together? Are they meant to fit together? Really, I’m not sure. The confusion, lack of closure and the loose ends are all probably a part of the plan.
I would definitely recommend this book to everyone but would also advise you to read it when you have the time to commit. After reading this, you will never look normally at your cat again or the ordinariness of spaghetti. Man, I think I need another vacation… A vacation at the bottom of a well.
Quotable Quotes :
“People don’t always send messages in order to communicate the truth… just as people don’t always meet others in order to reveal their true selves.”
“Is it possible, in the final analysis, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another? We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close can we come to that person’s essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?”
“I realize full well how hard it must be to go on living alone in a place from which someone has left you, but there is nothing so cruel in this world as the desolation of having nothing to hope for.”
“A life without pain: it was the very thing I had dreamed of for years, but now that I had it, I couldn’t find a place for myself within it. A clear gap separated me from it, and this caused me great confusion. I felt as if I were not anchored to this world – this world that I had hated so passionately until then; this world that I had continued to revile for its unfairness and injustice; this world where at least I knew who I was. Now the world ceased to be the world, and I had ceased to be me.”
“Curiosity can bring guts out of hiding at times, maybe even get them going. But curiosity evaporates. Guts have to go for the long haul. Curiosity’s like an amusing friend you can’t really trust. It turns you on and then it leaves you to make it on your own – with whatever guts you can muster.”
Rating : 5/5