Tuesday, 24 August 2010

A sheep that may or may not be running the world

I didn't seem to like the last Murakami book I read. Admittedly, I didn't really understand that Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World was meant to be parody of 'hard-boiled' fiction until it was too late (the clue was probably in the title). I liked its fantasy tone but found it a bit flat, a bit slow, and a bit too eager to be all 'postmodern'. Although despite all that, it's clearly a good book. The fact that I didn't like it seems beside the point. But the boring bits are still boring, I don't care how postmodern they are.

Now, A Wild Sheep Chase, written before Hard-boiled Wonderland, actually impressed me. To be honest, I'm probably going to like any book that has the sentence 'a sheep that may or may not be running the world' in its blurb. It's a sinister sheep too. It possesses people and uses them to build an evil empire. Murakami took something completely banal and flipped the switch to 'interesting'. There's passages where people are just explaining the farming of sheep in Japan. But it works because, at the bottom of it, you know there's something completely different. This book felt much more like a journey, an adventure through the sleepy towns of Japan. The images are sharp and the characters distinctive. Most Murakami books are described through these people. Apart from an evil sheep, this one has a girl with reality-bending ears, an 'ovine-obsessed professor' and a 'manic-depressive in a sheep outfit'. This Sheep Man is a highlight, turning up near the end of the story and speaking entirely without pause. He says that he hides in the mountains because he 'didn'twanttogoofftowar'. So, in all, it was a good idea not to give up on Haruki Murakami. There's a lot of hyperbole surrounding him, but some of it might be deserved. It's just a case of finding the right book.

1 comment:

  1. You might like Paul Auster's books, my friends who like Murakami tend to like his work too.