This is the first of Haruki Murakami's books that I have read, and it was something of an experience.  When Ivy saw what I was reading she said,”Ha, one of those.  After I’ve read one of those I have to go out and watch twenty comedy films to redress the balance.”
  I can see what she means.
  Let me say right away that I enjoyed the book.  I enjoyed the quality of the writing (which is exceptional, even if it is a translation from Japanese).  I enjoyed the weird and wonderful plot shifts, location shifts, and enigmatic conversations held by even more enigmatic characters.  I won’t pretend I understood everything that was going on.  Perhaps I could have understood more if I had tried harder but as I’ve remarked elsewhere in these reviews, I read to enjoy myself rather than work hard to try to see what the author is getting at.  So I enjoyed the writing and the weird content, but ultimately this is not an uplifting book.  Lots of bad things happen.  The ending is typically downbeat and enigmatic, but the reader has a strong suspicion that more bad things are probably round the corner.
  I wonder whether all the different episodes in the book can really be tied together into a coherent whole.  I wonder whether even Murakami knows that or whether, like Chandler, he hasn’t the faintest idea.  No doubt somebody somewhere has written extensively on this very topic, and I could find it by googling around; but I don’t think I’ll bother.  I’m happy to be left with a sense of weirdness; a sense that Japanese see the world in a very different way to me; and an admiration for Murakami’s writing skill.
  I see I have another Haruki Murakami book on my shelf which I didn’t know was there.  I’ll have to read that in a little while, lest I become too happy.
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