Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Wild Sheep Chase

by Haruki Murakami

This is my third Murakami book (after Kafka on the Shore and The Wind -Up Bird Chronicle) and I was certainly not disappointed. Apparently this is the third in the Trilogy of the Rat but I haven't read the first two (which are not readily available in English) and did not feel that I was missing anything while reading A Wild Sheep Chase. The un-named main character is drifting in his life, his wife leaves him, his business is ok but not very interesting, he describes his life as mediocre. Then he gets summoned by a mysterious businessman interested in a photo of sheep used in one of his brochures. He is tasked with finding the unusual sheep and sets off on an adventure. He meets interesting characters - a woman with the most beautiful ears, a sheep man, a sheep professor who never leaves his hotel room and it appears that his friend and business partner (the Rat) who had earlier disappeared is also on the trail of the same sheep.

This was the most straight forward Murakami that I have read (and also the earliest) and can easily be read as a simple detective story. But what I love most about Murakami is the beautiful writing and of course the wonderful characters. And if you feel like it, you can delve into the endless quest of "what is it trying to say" and "what does the sheep symbolize". What resonated most with me however was the narrator's nostalgic yearning to recapture something of his youth. His stay at the cabin in the mountains with nothing to do but read and cook or bake, perhaps go for a run made me nostalgic for my youthful stays at my parents cabin, with nothing to do but read, cook or go for a walk in the woods or a swim in the bay. No television, no dvd, no running somewhere on an errand or to pick up take-out. I miss that.

I understand that Dance, Dance, Dance is a sequel to this and I am looking forward to reading that as well. I am looking forward to lots more Murakami in my future, including a new release in English in the fall of 2011. Although I admit that when I find an author that I really enjoy like Murakami I am afraid to read all of his work too quickly for fear of running out of new books to experience. If anyone has any suggestions on which Murakami I should try next, let me know.

I note that In Spring It Is Dawn has started a Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge 2011 which I immediately signed up for. This book completes my participation in Bellezza's wonderful Japanese Literature Challenge 4. Thanks for hosting another great Challenge Bellezza!


Here is what looked good in the November / December Bookmarks Magazine issue.

C, Tom McCarthy
Room, Emma Donoghue
Bitter in the Mouth, Monique Truong - S
Hunger, Knut Hamsun
Percival's Planet, Michael (about discovery of Pluto)
What is Left the Daughter, Howard Norman (set in Nova Scotia)
The Bird Artist, Howard Norman
The Dreaming Void, Peter F. Hamilton - SF
The Dervish House, Ian McDonald - SF
Pattern Recognition, William Gibson
Zero History, William Gibson
Fall of the House of Walworth, Geoffrey O'brien -NF

All books appear to be available for the Kindle.