The midnight hour approaches in an almost empty all-night diner. Mari sips her coffee and glances up from a book as a young man, a musician, intrudes on her solitude. Both have missed the last train home. The musician has plans to rehearse with his jazz band all night; Mari is equally unconcerned and content to read, smoke, and drink coffee until dawn. Then they realise they've met before through Eri, Mari's beautiful sister.
The musician soon leaves with a promise to return before dawn. Shortly afterwards, Mari will be interrupted a second time by a girl from the Alphaville Hotel - a Chinese prostitute has been hurt by a client; the girl has heard Mari speaks fluent Chinese and requests her help.
Meanwhile, Eri is at home and sleeps a deep, heavy sleep that is "too perfect, too pure" to be normal. Her pulse and respiration are at the lowest required level. She has been in this soporific state for two months. And so Eri has become the classic myth: a sleeping beauty.
But tonight, as the digital clock displays 00:00, a faint electrical crackle is perceptible, a hint of life flickers across the TV screen in Eri's room, though the television's plug has been pulled.
©2007 Haruki Murakami; (P)2007 Hodder and Stoughton Audiobooks
"Darkly entertaining" (Publishers Weekly)
"A seductive and gratifying intellectual and romantic adventure." (Kirkus Reviews)
Classics,contemporary fiction, Politics, Philosophy, Economics - a weekly eye on The New Yorker & The Guardian and dense word style/play.
I managed to complete this in one sitting on a very hot first Friday in August spent at Adaland in Turkey and at the end felt that I'd enjoyed more thrills and spills that those who'd spent the day on the water slides. I've seen this one described as a tone poem - and there is very much in the novel which stays firmly in the poetic whilst seeming just to follow passively behind the narrow narrative progression of this story. It also functions quite adequately as a screenplay with tracking and panning directions for a film camera which seems to be the narrative point of view. Ultimately, though, I soon forgot about the justification and classification of this fantastic piece of writing.....a night in Tokyo informed by Blue Note Jazz and the inflections of Jean Luc Godard - could it be more pretentious, could it be more private, could it be more enjoyable...? I don't think so.... Not the average Murakami - but then what might that be...something complete fresh within his oeuvre, perhaps as close to social realism as he is likely to get....but so different from anything else. Wonderful stuff.
I have never listened to anything quite like this before. It is like a film script for one of those exquisitely slow, thoughtful, art-house films where every little action seems to be full of meaning (or perhaps, not). Slightly creepy and totally mesmerising, this tale sucks you in and holds you in thrall.
Yet again Murakami's detail to what others think tedious sets him above the rest. Great narration. Great story
This book is all set on one night in Tokyo. The story takes place in a world between reality and dreams and combines the authors trademark surrealism with his fascination with alienation and loneliness. This is not his best offering in my opinion but is a very worthwhile one. If you are new to Murakami, then I would recommend starting with 'The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles' or 'Kafka on the Shore' as I think they are more accessible and a better introduction to the authors amazing abilities.
"Murakami - what else can you say?"
Mentally paired for me with "Hard-Boiled Wonderland" as the two are published together in print, this is not Murakami's best novel (and some of his short stories are amazing) but it is quite good. The narrator is OK, British, but she tries just a little too hard in doing the voices at times, so that it gets annoying.
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