Friday, August 20, 2010

Murakami - A Wild Sheep Chase

I think this officially my second novel in this years Japanese Literature Challenge hosted by Dolce Bellezza. Haruki Murakami has been a contstant author in my readings for the JLC for the past 3 years, and he still hasn't let me down. A Wild Sheep Chase was, yet again, another captivating and engaging story that made it difficult for me to put it down.

The storyline is pretty simple - there's this guy who gets divorced pretty early in the novel, his business partner, his girlfriend with sexy ears and a mystery guy who gives the guy a quest to hunt down the missing sheep. I think that's about where the simplicity ends.... as is Murakami's way, the story is also quite surreal and is never predictable. However, I didn't find this book as bizarre as others. So if you've been put off Murakami's in the past, try this one.

Other's who have reviewed this novel have included Bellezza, Tony, Another Cookie Crumbles, Tanabata, and Mel U. It's interesting what people have taken from this story. For me, I guess it about mediocrity, the search for meaning and purpose -in the daily grind, in relationships and hope for the future. Murakami does leave the characters unnamed for some reason, but for me that doesn't mean their without character - they are quite strong of character I think. Some of the characters I liked were the man in the suit with manicured nails, the girlfriend with the sexy ears, the sheep professor, the sheep man, and the caretaker. I think I liked these because they were all pretty confident about their lot in life, they knew where they were and why. Their purpose was clear and they seemed to have few questions.

Some quotes:
On mediocrity:
Nothing changed from day to day, not one thing. I woke up at seven, made toast and coffee, headed out to work, ate dinner out, had one or two drinks, went home, read i bed for an hour, turned off the lights, and slept. Saturdays and Sundays, instead of work, I was out killing time from morning on, making the rounds of movie theatres. Then I had dinner and a couple of drinks, red, went to sleep, alone. So it went: I passed through the month the way people X out days on a calendar, one after the other.
The Ears:
She'd become so beautiful, it defied understanding. Never had I feasted my eyes on such beauty. Beauty of a variety I'd never imagined existed. As expansive as the entire universe, yet as dense as a glacier. Unabashedly excessive, yet at the same time pared down to an essence. It transcended all concepts within the boundaries of my awareness. She was at one with her ears, gliding down the oblique face of time like a protean bean of light.
An explanation?
"More precisely, our organisation can be divided into two elements. The part that moves ahead and the part that drives it ahead. Naturally, there are other parts managing other functions. Still, roughly divided, our organisation is made up of these two parts. The other parts hardly amount to anything. The part at the forefront is the Will, and the part that backs up the forefront is the Gains. When people talk about the Boss, they make an issue only out of his Gains. And after the Boss dies, it will be only his Gains that people will clamour for a share of. Nobody wants the Will, because no one understands it. Herein we see the true meaning of what can and can not be shared. The Will cannot be shared. It is either passed on in toto, or lost in toto." "what is this Will" I asked. "A concept that governs time, governs space, and governs possibility".
Loosing mediocrity:
Darkness crept through my ear like oil. Someone was trying to break up the frozen globe of the earth with a massive hammer. The hammer struck the earth precisely eight times. But the earth failed to break up. It only cracked a little.

I've read that Dance, Dance, Dance is like a sequel - so that's on my list soon. But next its another Banana Yoshimoto - Goodbye Tsugumi.


Bellezza said...

This was a tricky book for me to fully grasp, in fact I usually read Murakami a few times, but I so agree with you about him discussing the mediocrity of life. I get this a little confused with Dance Dance Dance which is the next one after A Wild Sheep Chase...I'm still not entirely sure as to the meaning of the sheep? All the same, I loved this novel, and Dance Dance Dance even more.

Tamara said...

I do look forward to reading Dance Dance Dance because so many people have agreed with you. I also wonder if he complete's the message about mediocrity.