ISBN: 0099448793

Murakami invokes curiosity, the sort that draws you in. And then the unexpectedness of it all (sex) keeps you in. And then there’s seemingly Mundane that wonders if you’d encounter (1) and (2) again.

Wind-up bird’s “ten minutes is all I need” and then the “picture me naked; touch me” scene (how do you classify that into a genre? Contemporary Weird-kinkiness?) The chapter abruptly ends. I wonder what was that all about. And then I start on the next page looking for that weird Murakami-rush.

Starts with us being introduced to Toru Okada, who receives a weird phone call from a strange woman. Goes look for his missing cat. Meets a teenager neighbour who’s continuing her pretence of her injury to avoid school. He then meets a Ms Malta Kano, who claims she’s clavoiryant. Says her sister, Crete Kano, was raped by Toru’s brother-in-law who is described as another brilliant but deeply weird and intellectually dangerous person.

Slight twist when Crete Kano reveals to Toru that she’s a Call Girl, and met Toru’s brother-in-law as her client.

Another call from the mysterious woman.

Chpt 12, Lt. Mamiya’s story of a covert mission in WWII Manchukuo was an unexpected tale with bits of WWII history (pity though, if japanese readers might think this is another piece of wild fiction dreamed up by Murakami).

End of Chpt 25, title of book is revealed.

Then more letters from May Kasahara (they left me wondering what that’s all about).

And more wartime stories revealed by an old man; of a killer incharge of a concentration camp in Sibera. The connection seems to be that while the old man cannot change fate (the evil man cannot be killed, or that beings like Boris the Manskinner manifest themselves everywhere). And maybe all leads to Toru challenging fate and breaking the cycle. Although I wonder if there are other universes where Kumiko’s brother still lives.

Finally, a few more chapters later, the plot congeals. Kumiko reveals she has been compelled to cheat on Toru. And much was due to some vile actions by her brother. Toru seems to pass between what I understand to be an alternate reality. He manages to kill this faceless aspect of what is hinted to be the evil persona of Kumiko’s brother.

At the backcover, one review likened Murakami work as an ‘impressionistic work’. Pretty apt description, I think.

I think you’ll either enjoy the Murakami Weirdness (like how you tolerant the meanderings of a long-drawn joke to finally get the punch line) or you’d think it’s all a bunch of disconnected mumbo-jumbo. But there must be something that draws his fans.

I’ll read Murakami, for sure.

But only in between extended breaks 🙂