Monday, July 7, 2014

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

Title: South of the Border, West of the Sun
Author: Haruki Murakami
Original Publication Date: 1992
Pages: 190
Genres: Fiction, Magical Realism, Contemporary Fiction

In denying a foothold to any portentous propensity of being needlessly repetitive, but more so in the interest of brevity, I opted to start forthcoming reviews, of which there seem to be many as this Murakami fever I have uncannily contracted has sternly refused abatement, with the Murakami Bingo! Murakami may have a definitive 'murakami' style but it still operates within a framework with formulaic themes and recurring plot devices.


So here we go!
Mysterious Woman? Operative truth!
Unexpected Phone Call? Check!
Old Jazz Record? Check!
Urban Ennui? Check!
Running? Check!
Weird Sex? Check!

So the Murakami in [South of the Border, West of the Sun is more of the Murakami of Norwegian Wood than his surrealist magical-realism books like Kafka on the Shore and Dance Dance Dance. It is however the usual Murakami of losing and longing, of searching and failing. This piece puts us in Hajime's shoes from his childhood to his middle years. To put it bluntly, this is a story of mid-life crises and marital infidelities. Murakami has written a real universal character that we occasionally find ourselves communing with in more ways than we personally acknowledge. We all go out in the world, frantically searching for something, something we only feel in vague stirrings, and sometimes, in our definite inevitable folly, something we don't know of. Whether we seek something that exist or something we have subconsciously created out of a desperate need to define ourselves has never been the question, for the search itself has always been the answer, hasn't it? That is why, strangely enough, even though I have yet to attain numerically sound midlife crises, get married and have children, I found myself sympathizing if not empathizing with Hajime.

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.” (Ernest Hemingway)

The good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was,  all belonged to me, all became mine. Thank you, Murakami, for yet another wonderful sojourn!

I have reviewed other books by Haruki Murakami
Dance Dance Dance (3 Stars)
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
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