Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Wild Sheep Chase (Haruki Murakami)

The first Murakami book I ever read was the Wind Up Bird Chronicles. I'm not sure if that was the best introduction to Murakami, not because the book wasn't fantastic, but because I feel one should really build up to something like that. However, it was the book club choice that month (and the month following) so I read it. But this is not a post about WUPC. Nor is it about Norwegian Wood, which was the second Murakami book I read. One thing about that: after reading the first page of NW I had to stop and hunt out my ipod and play the Beatle's Norwegian Wood so that I could fully capture the experience. In the end, the Rubber Soul album was on continual repeat while I read this so now the two are strongly associated with each other, for good or ill. Mostly for good I think. Anyway, a couple of days ago I read WSC because I had been talking to Tortoise who was going to buy an e-read from Sony for Mrs. Tortoise. I'd been fondly eyeing the Kindle forever but 1) it was way out of my price range 2) it was first generation and 3) I hadn't read a new book in forever. The thing with me and books is that I like to reread them. I like to read new books too, but old books are like family. I can't count the number of times I've read Story of the Stone vol. I and II, or With Bold Knife and Fork, or Things: A Story of the Sixties. The urge to reread these particular books (and some others) come and go, but I can flip to any page and know I am in a safe place. The thing with new books is mostly one of access. When I used to live in NY, I would go to the Strand, read through Bee's collection or visit the local library. For obvious reasons, options 1 and 2 are no longer available to me and for some reason it is impossible for me to make my way to the neighborhood Philly Free Library. Who knows why. So reading new books is not as easy as it once was. Not to mention, when I was in NY, I would read constantly because I was always riding around in the subways. Every morning I had an hour commute and that was when I would catch up on the New Yorker or read my latest novel. It was time well spent. To get back to WSC, the reason it wound up in my hands was a lucky find. During one bout of New Years cleaning I discovered an old B&N gift card with money still left on it. Determined to use it then and there, I chose two books from the website, WSC and Kafka on the Shore, and promptly tossed the card. This was about a month ago but it wasn't until the conversation with Tortoise that I cracked it open at all. Again, who knows why. So onto WSC:

Written in 1982, this book preceded both NW and WUBC by a number of years. It reminded me of both works, as it contained fantastical elements (magical ears, magical sheep and ghosts) and a sense of isolation and dissociation on the part of the protagonist. It is more akin to WUBC than NW I guess; several elements show up again in WUBC (lost wife, sinister man, girls with special powers, unreality within reality, etc). I don't want to give anything away because this book was really fun to read and I'd hate to spoil it for someone. This book will be going into the reread rotation.


  1. i'm not bringing this book to california. you can borrow it when you come visit me!