Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Thing About Murakami

A tumblr friend once asked for my advice about continuing to read Murakami. She said she tried reading Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World but eventually gave up on it because it seemed like 'such a mess of stuff about nothing.'

“I still have it and my mom recently bought 1Q84,” she added. “I just have such a long list of books to read that I can’t decide which one to read first. So I decided to ask you, since you’re my favorite blog about books. Thanks in advance!”


Here’s my response:  I love Murakami so much…but I think he is not for everybody. His works usually dip in and out of fantasy and reality (this is aka magical realism) so  to most people they come out as a jumble of thoughts and events that are only held together by the main protagonist’s philosophies. Halfway through a Murakami book, readers who want a concrete story with a concrete direction will feel as if they are just in some wild goose chase. The endings, which are often open and surreal, would just seem to confirm their early suspicions.

The thing is, I find books like these fascinating. Murakami’s style is the epitome of the literary version of “it’s the journey, not the destination” adage. Like Neil Gaiman, Murakami seems to have a penchant for tapping into the subconscious of their characters and connecting the readers to them. He’s bringing you to a world of fantasy without actually going past the doorjamb of reality, and he drops a handful of nuggets of wisdom while he’s doing it. I hope I’m making sense.

If you want something more normal from Murakami, start with Norwegian Wood, which has also been turned into a movie:

Norwegian Wood

It stars Ken’ichi Matsuyama, who is more known to anime fanatics as the “L” in a Death Note live action movie. I have the three volumes of 1Q84 (haven’t started reading them), but I think they’re more similar to his surreal works. Happy reading, girl! And sorry for rambling!


  1. All my love for your explanation. If I were not a Murakami lover but was about to start, I think I'll heed what you just said.