twenty-two.

the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (1994)
 “Between the end of that strange summer and the approach of winter, my life went on without change. Each day would dawn without incident and end as it had begun. It rained a lot in September. October had several warm, sweaty days. Aside from the weather, there was hardly anything to distinguish one day from the next. I worked at concentrating my attention on the real and useful. I would go to the pool almost every day for a long swim, take walks, make myself three meals.

But even so, every now and then I would feel a violent stab of loneliness. The very water I drank, the very air I breathed, would feel like long, sharp needles. The pages of a book in my hands would take on the threatening metallic gleam of razor blades. I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o’clock in the morning.”

 Toru Okada has left his job when the cat in the house goes missing. His wife wants him to find the cat, which leads him to meeting some new and weird acquaintances. A woman called Malta Kano calls him and says that she’d help him find the cat. May Kasahara is a 16 year old living in one of the houses next door who has been in a motorcycle accident and therefore doesn’t go to school. And then there is this unknown woman who phones him and asks him about sex. From there things get more complicated. One day his wife, Kumiko, simply disappears. Toru doesn’t believe that she has gone willingly, and blames his nemesis; his brother-in-law.
This is the kind of Murakami I like. Nothing too weird, amazing characters, cats, corridors and sex. I also liked that Manchuria and World War II is one of the settings, and I definitely want to read more about the subject.  Murakami has turned into one of those authors whom I need to have at least one unread book from on my bookshelves. He is also best in small doses, so one or two books a year is enough.

seventeen.

Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami (1988)
 “Dance,” said the Sheep Man. “Yougottadance. Aslongasthemusicplays. Yougota dance. Don’teventhinkwhy. Starttothink, yourfeetstop. Yourfeetstop,wegetstuck. Wegetstuck, gottakeepthestep. Yougottalimberup. Yougottaloosenwhatyoubolteddown. Yougottauseallyougot. Weknowyou’retired, tiredandscared. Happensoeveryone, okay? Justdon’tletyourfeetstop….Yougottadance. Aslongasthemusicplays.”
 A man is trying to find out the truth about his ex-lover and he goes back to the hotel in Sapporo where they had stayed previously. Only the hotel isn’t the same. Instead of the run down small hotel, there is an enormous shiny new hotel. And the staff isn’t pleased when he asks about the other hotel.
But one of the receptionists is nice to him, and they become friendly. She also asks him for a favour when he leaves; could he look after a 13 year old girl on the way back to Tokyo? This girl, abandoned by her famous parents, and the man become friends, a friendship that will take them to Hawaii. And as their friendship evolves, the man is still looking for clues about his ex-lover.
Another great book from Murakami! I don’t know why I haven’t read more Murakami, there are three unread ones in my shelf, but I guess it’s good to save some for later. I don’t think I really got the end right, but it doesn’t matter as the journey there was such a delight to read. 
It is definitely the characters that made this book. He described them so well that they came alive in my head. And yes, the Sheep Man scared the hell out of me.

thirteen.

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (2002)


Kafka runs away from his father on his fifteenth birthday. He takes the night bus from Tokyo and ends up in a town with an amazing private library. The man working in the reception takes pity on Kafka and when he needs a place to stay after waking up with a bloody shirt outside one day, he asks the owner of the library if Kafka can stay and work there. And then there’s Mr Nakata who can’t read or write but is able to talk with cats. He finds missing cats for his neighbours and on search for one, he stumbles upon Johnnie Walker who collects souls from cats and Nakata ends up killing Johnnie Walker. After confessing to a police man who do not believe Nakata’s strange story, he leaves Tokyo and ends up in the same town as Kafka.

I have had a hard time trying to understand and describe the events in this book. There is a lot of strange things going on and I found it hard to follow at times. What kept me reading was the characters, and especially Mr Nakata and the cats. But I have no idea what really happened in the end.

This book was a bit disappointing after falling in love with Norwegian Wood. But for some strange reason it made me want to reread the Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov again.

seventy-nine.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (1987)

“Once the plane was on the ground, soft music began to flow from the ceiling speakers: a sweet orchestral cover version of the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood”. The melody never failed to send a shudder through me, but this time it hit me harder than ever.”

Toru is reminded of a girl he loved a long time ago, Naoko. She was the girlfriend of his best friend who killed himself very suddenly at the age of 17. Naoko and Toru meet again when they are at university and they start taking long walks all over Tokyo. Naoko is not dealing well with the death of her childhood boyfriend and after sleeping with Toru she ends up in a sanctuary.

This book is full of lonely messed-up beautiful people reaching out to other lonely beautiful people. And so much death. But also love. And a fair amount of popular culture and sex. I had Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles stuck on my mind while reading.

“I trudged along through each day in its turn, rarely looking up, eyes locked on the never-ending swamp that lay before me, planting my right foot, raising my left, planting my left food, raising the right, never sure where I was, never sure I was headed in the right direction, knowing only that I had to keep moving, one step at a time.”

Murakami has been on my book-shelf for years and yet all the wonderful things I have heard about his writing, I never picked him up until now. And how much did I like him? I just ordered two more books by him off Amazon.