Favorite Fiction of 2014

Looking back on the books I’ve read this year reminds me what an insanely good year this was for reading. 2014 brought new Murakamis and a new David Mitchell, and it introduced me to some fantastic authors I had never … Continue reading

Book Review: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Book Review: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
by Haruki Murakami

Vintage, September 2000
(first published 1987)
Paperback, 293 pages
Source: Gift

As middle-aged Toru Watanabe’s flight lands at the gloomy Hamburg airport and the plane begins taxying to the terminal, an orchestral version of The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” begins playing through the ceiling speakers. Hearing this song takes him back to his youth in the autumn of 1969.

At the age of 18, Toru moves from his home in Kobe to a university in Tokyo. One day in this new city, he runs into an old friend, Naoko, with whom he shares an obsessive grief over the suicide of Toru’s best friend and Naoko’s boyfriend, Kizuki, when they were 17. Although the two were never close before, they begin taking weekly walks together, exploring every corner of Tokyo as they become more intimate. Continue reading

Musing Monday: Weird Books

This week MizB asks bloggers to muse upon the question:

What is the weirdest/strangest/craziest book you’ve ever read?

This is might be a tad unoriginal, but my “weird book” pick is a Murakami novel. Don’t get me wrong, I really like his books. Mostly. Norwegian Wood is one of my favorites, Kafka on the Shore is intriguing, and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is meandering and slightly baffling. But the book that screams “weirdest” at me is A Wild Sheep Chase. Let me share the back cover copy:

“A marvelous hybrid of mythology and mystery, A Wild Sheep Chase is the extraordinary literary thriller that launched Haruki Murakami’s international reputation. It begins simply enough: A twenty-something advertising executive receives a postcard from a friend and casually appropriates the image for an insurance company’s advertisement. What he doesn’t realize is that included in the pastoral scene is a mutant sheep with a star on its back, and in using this photo he has unwittingly captured the attention of a man in black who offers a menacing ultimatum: find the sheep or face dire consequences. Thus begins a surreal and elaborate quest that takes our hero from the urban haunts of Tokyo to the remote and snowy mountains of northern Japan, where he confronts not only the mythological sheep, but the confines of tradition and the demons deep within himself. Quirky and utterly captivating, A Wild Sheep Chase is Murakami at his astounding best.”

This is only a tiny glimpse of the weirdness that lies between the covers. It was very strange and a little confusing; I remember being confused about what I had just absorbed even after finishing the book. I can accept talking cats and prostitutes who only service their clients in the mental realm, but this sheep thing was a little bit too far out there for me.

What’s the weirdest/strangest book you have ever read?

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

Special Boxed Set for 1Q84 Paperback

Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, published last year, will be released in a special paperback boxed set May 15. The novel will be broken into three volumes (presumably where it was split for its original three-part release in Japan) that fit together to make one image and are housed in a translucent sleeve. Is it pretty or what?! I’m glad I didn’t buy the hardback; the set is lovely, and the single volumes will be much easier to lug around!

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami boxed set

The list price is $29.95, but the set can be purchased for $15.98 on Amazon. The novel will eventually be released in paperback in a single volume.

What do you think of the design?