Sunday, October 11, 2009

M is for...


I've had it with Haruki Murakami. I've read four of his books now and after each one I've found myself so frustrated by his meandering quasi-cryptic stories, the bored narrators, so full of ennui, who spend the entire story doing no work, drinking endless alcohol (yet never have hangovers), and who remain unreasonbly calm when confronted by Mafia bosses or weird, other-worldly sheep creatures.

The first book I read, Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was, admittedly, a good read: well paced, full of intriguing situations and descriptions, and at the time I was happy to let the ambiguous, odd ending slide as part of the style of that story. But it's been a recurring thing ever since. In Norwegian Wood, A Wild-Sheep Chase and Dance Dance Dance I have seen the same patterns in the stories repeating over and over only done with less panache or care as in Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

As Murakami used to own a bar it's unsurprising his character end up always drinking but it becomes such a boring thing to read over and over: "I sipped my beer" "I had a vodka and lime in the hotel bar" "I poured myself a whiskey before bed". It's borderline alcoholism throughout. Another theme is lack of work. For example, in Dance Dance Dance the main character is 29, does very little work, but has enough money to to do what ever he wants (including drinking endlessly), yet sees no oddness in this, no sense of being in a position quite unlike most people.

Later on in the book he barely makes any comment on being being sent to Hawaii, for free, to do nothing but surf, drink Pina Coladas and drive around listening to rock music all day. He just takes it all in his stride, doling out pseudo-philosophical thoghts to the other characters, who are all full of problems, while our hero just drifts through, sipping beers, watching from the side. He often ends up in weird etheral experiences, seeing skeltons in rooms, coming out of hotel elevators and emerging in other worlds, yet never even bats an eyelid at this. Throughout Dance Dance Dance the other characters tell him, 'You're pretty weird, you know that?' But he's not. He's just a git.

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