Eric Skillman's Reviews > A Wild Sheep Chase

A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami
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Sep 10, 2007

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Read in August, 2007

Not quite as immediately engaging as the last Murakami I read (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle), in some ways this book seems like a dry run for that book—mysterious symbolic animal at the center of the story, a disolving marriage, eccentric rich people appearing out of nowhere to move the plot forward, whole chapters devoted to the past histories of otherwise unimportant characters, chapters written in the form of letters, etc... I haven't read enough Murakami to know whether all his books are like that, but there are definitely some similarities between these two.

Where the surreal elements Wind-Up Bird invariably came off as lyrical and poetic, occasionally in this book they fell flat for me—certian things just seemed weird for the sake of being weird ("Sheep Man"?). Some of that is probably just because a sheep is a clumsier animal to hang your metaphors on, compared to birds... or maybe it's just that apparently sheep have slightly different symbolism in Japan than here, at least as described in this book?

(Speaking of "cultural differences," I'm still a little skeptical of the translation, considering there's (again) not a single pop cultural reference I didn't get, which is to say all the references are American or European bands, books, painters, etc. I can't help wondering if this isn't somehow reflective of the same policy that changes "crisps" to "chips" when they publish Harry Potter in the States...)

Anyway, having said all that, which sounds pretty negative, I did still enjoy the book a lot. The prose is still great, the story engaging, and it is pretty interesting to see the stylistic quirks used in his later (and better) book being ironed out.
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