Author: Haruki Murakami
Original Publication Date: 1988
Genre/s: Fiction, Magical Realism
“Dance," said the Sheep Man. "Yougottadance. Aslongasthemusicplays. Yougotta dance. Don'teventhinkwhy. Starttothink, onyourfeet, yourfeetstop, wegetstuck. Wegetstuck, you'restuck. Sodon'tpayanymind, nomatterhowdumb. Yougottakeepthestep. Yougottalimberup. Yougottaloosenwhat-youbolteddown. Yougottauseallyougot. Weknowyou're tired, tiredandscared. Happenstoeveryone, okay? Justdon'tletyourfeetstop.” (179)
A Rendition of The Sheep Man
What did you expect? A normal talking conventional character? Of course not. There’s nothing like that here, or anywhere in Murakami’s work it would seem.
“I often dream about the Dolphin Hotel."(6)
Dance Dance Dance follows a nameless narrator haunted by recurring dreams of a hotel, The Dolphin Hotel, he was brought to by a high-end call girl. Whether it is the hotel or the call girl that keeps bringing him back, he cannot recall, nor seem to totally forget. He decided, after a life of indecisiveness, to finally return to the Hotel, only to find the place to have been lost to a capitalist investment of the same nature and the same name. He struggles to establish connections in the world, he wanted, as he was advised to ‘dance’, and in these mishaps, to look for a lost love, he was accompanied by stoic-faced laconic-responsed thirteen-year old girl gifted with limited clairvoyance and meets an old high-school acquaintance.
I was almost irretrievably tempted to write this review in the Sheep Man’s language above, one without the proper spaces between words, but after trying it on the first few sentences, I found that it is even harder to control actions that border reflex and the subconscious, like that of tapping the space bar.
“You're probably right. As you say, I've lost and I'm lost and I'm confused. I'm not anchored to anything.”(87)
The idea that the unnamed narrator is drawn to the Dolphin Hotel made me shiver first, for an uncanny reason I quickly associated this with that of The Shining’s Outlook Hotel. The terror and fear which characterized my reading experience with it is exchanged by curiosity and interest in this piece however. Stripping this books plethora of surrealistic aspects, we are left with a bare handed tale of a lost man who has nothing but lost connections. And that is not mere tautology for Murakami’s work’s always concern an individual who is lost or has lost something leading us to narratives which are always unique, lyrical, and impeccably fluid. These narratives, which are always open to unfathomable elucidations of the metaphors and allusions they offer don’t always provide a closure, in fact they hardly ever do, don’t they?
"The human mind dwells deep in darkness. Only the person himself knows the real reason, and maybe not even then." (359)
The impeccable lyrical prose would, however, seem to me to be, mere icing on the cake. What compelled me to read another Murakami within a week of finishing Kafka on the Shore was how tangible, how alive, he has brought his characters to life in surrealistic world. They are alive in their search for meanings, in their struggle to make human connections in an unforgiving world, they were the struggles of the everyday individual, they were mine too.
Murakami’s style is deftly his own. Me may be in a fickle love-hate relationship considering your other works, but just as you have written, there are certain individuals who exclusively bring you to euphoric places, and in a literary perspective you do fit the bill as one of those authors. Through your words, I am transported into this unique wonderful surreal world and still remain, human, very human indeed.
And added bonus is that whenever I finish your work, I get to play this bingo! Now, where does Dance Dance Dance, figure into this.
I have reviewed other books by Haruki Murakami
Kafka on the Shore (4 Stars)
Norwegian Wood (2 Stars)
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle(2 Stars)
This review, along with my other reviews, has been cross-posted at imbookedindefinitely