"The one thing I understood for sure was that I didn't understand a thing."
Ohhhh, Murakami. Just when I start to think that maybe, just maybe, I've reached the peak of my Murakami-love, I go and read the book that I'm now thinking of as his Murakami-est- the book that's the perfect distillation of all his favourite themes and ideas and his style, at once mind boggling and insane, but also kind of familiar at the same time? Or... Maybe that's just me.
I think it's going to be pretty pointless to try to describe the plot, because it's always pretty pointless to describe a Murakami plot in any way, but... I'll give it a try? I guess? It starts off, as always, fairly mundanely, focusing on Toru Okada (the narrator for most of the book) a recently unemployed young man with a wife and a house and many meals to make (so many meals... Mmmm, you and your food, Murakami...) who is very very much a typical Murakami hero- passive, quiet, lonely, VERY accepting of the weird things that happen, should I even go on..?
Anyway. Strange things start to happen after his and his wife's cat disappears, he meets not one, but two sets of very odd characters, they say cryptic things and a lot of people (or, at least, a lot more people than really should) sit in wells. I feel like I'm being flippant here, and I really don't mean to be, because I was TRANSFIXED by this book. It was like picking it up hypnotised me and each time I emerged from it, minutes or hours later, I could barely remember where I was. This is the highest praise I know how to give a book, really, and Murakami pretty much always does it for me.
This time, though, I wasn't just sucked into the book, the book kind of overspilled its boundaries and came with me everywhere I went. And I'm not talking about the physical book (THAT sucker is over 600 pages, so it didn't ACTUALLY come anywhere with me) but more the feel of the book, and the Murakaminess of feeling like, even though I was just walking along the same streets and everything, that maybe they had changed in some sinister and strange way, or maybe there was something or someone odd waiting just around the corner.
This sounds like a really weird and paranoid way to think, but it wasn't like that- and if you really think about it, the world actually is ripe with potential things that could happen but never do, and sometimes things feel like they've changed even though they haven't because you have changed, and I really think it's basic truths like this that Murakami tries to get to, through his weird and twisted narrative paths. I mean... that's only true sometimes, and I won't even to pretend to know what he's doing the rest of the time, but I think that really is A Thing that he does, and that's why I sometimes feel like people are crazy when they're like 'Murakami is haaaard' because really, he's just going deeply into things that mostly we just ignore, or take for granted.
I'm not even going to pretend that I enjoyed every single second of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, because there were some war history bits that, let's face it, I'm never going to be into, AND there were some downright unpleasant bits that I don't even want to think about ever again. If I'd wanted every single story to be neatly tied up, then I would have been sorely disappointed, but I don't expect that kind of normal crap from Murakami, and neither should you. I don't know what he means by most of it, but I have my own interpretations and my own thoughts, and maybe THAT is what it's all about in the end.
Or maybe it's all literal, and Murakami's seen some weird shit. How should I know? All I know is that, this has probably just taken the crown as my favourite Murakami so far, and that is a HOTLY contested title, let me tell you. This is awesome, you should read it. Although... Probably not if you're a Murakami first timer. Ease your way into the madness, huh?
<3 <3 <3 MurakamiReplyDelete
Ahh, I can remember when I first read this actually having to hide the book under a pillow because the really disgusting bits freaked me out a bit too much, but I also wanted to keep on reading and never stop at the same time.
I think this is my favourite :D
"I also wanted to keep on reading and never stop at the same time." YESSSS! If in my life, I could just constantly be reading Murakami books, that would be the awesomest life ever.Delete
I just realised that I also forgot to say that reading this gave me some REALLY weird dreams- and I couldn't figure out why they were happening and this book is the only reason I can think of. Which really, I just think is SO awesome/a tiny bit scary. But mostly awesome-I never normally know the things that influence my dreams!
This is definitely my favourite so far!! Ah, I love you Jenny :)
Yay, Murakami quite often gives me weird dreams. They're the best kind of weird dreams though! :DDelete
YAYYY Murakami :D :D :D :D
I love your Murakami posts because I'm so, Yes! She gets him!ReplyDelete
And here I am still an HM novice, but loving all the books anyway. I recently finished 1Q84 and am itching to get to Kafka on the Shore before too long.
I mean... I get him, like, a bit. As much as one can get him, I guess? Whatever, I just love love love him :)Delete
"a lot of people (or, at least, a lot more people than really should) sit in wells" - So wait, how many people were sitting in wells? and what is the ideal number of well-sitters? (I really focused on the important parts of your review.)ReplyDelete
I feel like I need more Murakami under my belt before tackling this...
Ok, so what I meant by that was that I said 'a lot of people' but actually it's like... 3 people? Which is more people than should sit in wells ever/in a book. That makes sense, right?Delete
I want to say read 1Q84 before this, because it's slightly less weird, BUT it's like 1000 pages. So I don't know what to tell ya, Alley. Just read all the Murakami books ever :)
Okay so let's say I'm a Murakami noob & intrigued by all this loving...which book should I start with?ReplyDelete
I struggle with this question so much, because *I* started with Norwegian Wood, which is a good introduction to Murakami's style/some of his themes, but doesn't have any of the weird stuff. I loved it, but everyone I read it with basically hated it, SO I'm reluctant to say 'read it first!' cause if you don't like it, I don't know that it's even typical of his books, but you won't really want to read another.Delete
Ah, fuck it, read Norwegian Wood. Then report back for further instructions ;)
This is the book which made me fall in love with Murakami, but I prefered Kafka on the Shore.ReplyDelete
Your thoughts are so much more cohesive than mine!
Ooooh, interesting! I did still LIKE Kafka on the Shore and everything, I just really feel like this... Did exactly what it was supposed to do all the time and was like a perfect Murakami distillation (or something).Delete
Haaaaa, if I tried to tell you all the things I thought about each character, it would get a lot less cohesive, believe me!
I've only read IQ84. I thought it was fantastic. I'd really love to read more of his work but I wasn't sure where to go next. I see that you recommend Norwegian Wood, so tah dah! That's what I'll search out ;)ReplyDelete
Woohoo! I'm the teller of... Things. I would just say that I feel like 1Q84 is more like his other stuff than Norwegian Wood is, so if you wanted to go straight to Kafka on the Shore or even this, then I think you're ready! But Norwegian Wood is AWESOME. Albeit sad.Delete
I love your Murakami posts. I'd be nervous to try him (what if I don't Get It?) if it weren't for you saying that sometimes *you* don't get it, but it makes you think the things. This bodes well, is what I'm saying. I need to read this guy.ReplyDelete
You do. You so do. Everyone does! (Were you not around for our Norwegian Wood readalong? I thought you'd been here the whole time!) I definitely think there are going to be different levels of 'getting it', but that nobody actually Gets It, apart from maaaybe Murakami himself, but possibly not even him. But it's still so great. At least for me. Which I always add, cause I can see how it would be SO EASY to just roll your eyes at it all, but Murakami really rings my bell etc.Delete