Haruki Murakami fans discussion


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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 3 comments Is there a Murakami work that you've been disappointed by? I've read several so far and been amazed, and...well, I'll wait to name the one I'm currently reading, but I'm just not enjoying it. Once I finish it (I'm determined to, it's not all that long), I'll explain in more detail, and I think some of it is that the subject matter has hit a nerve, which probably says good things about him as a writer, that I'm not enjoying it but it still strikes something in me.

message 2: by Emily (new)

Emily (bluish) i was never a big fan of south of the border west of the sun, i was bored by it...
but i havent revisited it in a while so...

message 3: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony I agree that "After Dark" seemed like a bit of a throwaway...but that's because I like the other ones so much.

I loved "South of the Border, West of the Sun", but I'm a guy about that age, so I could relate some.

message 4: by Stefan (new)

Stefan Kuschnig | 1 comments After Dark felt like almost an excerpt. If it had gone on longer, with more connections made with the different events and such, it might have been more interesting. Also the new style of having a roaming camera as the viewpoint was distracting and felt a little too forced to me. It did set a nice mood of night though.

Also didn't really like A Wild Sheep Chase. I'm sure I'd have cared more for it if those other 'Rat' books had been translated. It has some rough edges that got smoothed out in later books. I thought it was only interesting as an early work, seeing all these elements that would dominate his writing later on. Mysterious forces and a lady who goes missing.

I hope he'll release something new and epic soon. After Dark was 2005, and it's been just some short stories since.

message 5: by Lisa (last edited Feb 04, 2008 03:30PM) (new)

Lisa | 3 comments I started this topic because I was in the middle of South of the Border, West of the Sun, and I wasn't enjoying it at all. Now that I've finished it, I still didn't necessarily enjoy it, but it did make me think about why, so at least it had that going for it.

I found Hajime an infinitely unlikeable character, but I couldn't put my finger on the details of why. He had no problem doing things that would hurt the women he claimed to "love", even as he said that there must be something wrong with him for doing so. I think of "that's just the way I am, nothing to be done" as the worst, laziest possible excuse for bad behavior toward others.

But it wasn't until I got to the end of the story that I began to be able to articulate what I disliked about Hajime, and therefore the book. Hajime loses the only dream he's ever had in life, Shimamoto, though he knows absolutely zero about her as an adult (somehow that doesn't matter...he just wants the dream, not a real person). He is crushed at the somehow dismal prospect of providing dreams for others (his family), instead of pursuing his own dream no matter the cost. I found that utterly depressing. A character that a) can't generate new dreams in life, and b) is miserable about the newly discovered prospect of providing for the dreams of people he claims to love is utterly unappealing to me.

I have to wonder if Hajime was meant to be a kind of failure as a human in relationship to others, or if I just hated a character Murakami meant to be somewhat sympathetic.

message 6: by Walter (new)

Walter (wal-tor) | 11 comments "After Dark" = disappointing.

message 7: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 3 comments Why? Tell me more!

message 8: by Hertzan (new)

Hertzan Chimera (hertzanchimera) After Dark wasn't so much a disappointment for me as the start of a fuller novel. So many laces were left untied, it's any wonder the book could stagger past the finishing line. But maybe this is part of Murakami's charm.

HARD BOILED WONDERLAND AND THE END OF THE WORLD really pissed me off royally. It took me ages to force myself through and then that ending. Arrrgh!

message 9: by Walter (new)

Walter (wal-tor) | 11 comments It's hard to say what exactly was disappointing. It did feel incomplete for one, the relationships weren't really explained. It also felt like there was suppose to be a lot of tension and mystery but somehow it got lost. I didn't really care about those gangsters or about the sleeping sister. I also thought that part of the story was kind of...well...cheesy. I did like the two main characters, but the rest of the story, let's just say something was off. (p.s. it's been months since i read it so i might be forgetting something)

(p.p.s. I hate giving murakami a bad review, i really do. "Sputnik Sweetheart" is amazing and puts him right near the top of my favorite authors list, no matter what else he writes.)

message 10: by Ami (new)

Ami (amie_07) Well, so far, i haven't really found one that disappoints me. I love "Hard Boiled Wonderland and the end of The world", in fact it's my favorite book of his. I always enjoy the surreal topic of his.

But I did struggle a bit to finish his short story collection, "Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman".

message 11: by Laura (new)

Laura (laurahogan) | 3 comments I'm in the minority on this one, but I really disliked Kafka on the Shore. I felt like he was trying to get at something but it was impossible to figure out what, and he just sort of let the whole book get away from him, especially toward the end.

message 12: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Hanley (kevinhanley) | 1 comments I thought Kafka on the Shore was amazing. :)

message 13: by Nicole (new)

Nicole (popularmassacre) | 1 comments I completely agree about the length of After Dark. I had to pace myself with that one because I can really devour Murakami but I didn't want to read it in two hours, and I could have.

message 14: by Alex (last edited May 20, 2008 06:20AM) (new)

Alex | 20 comments Funny I'm just the opposite. Hard Boiled Wonderland is among my favorites, but Kafka on the Shore left me unimpressed. Why? Kafka touches on so many familiar Murakami themes (surreal life as real life, the urgent and bizzare quest, history as mystery, innocent but frank sexuality) but without the continual flourishes of genius and originality of his master works- Wonderland, Norwegian Wood, DanceDanceDance, and The Wind-Up Bird. To me Kafka on the Shore reads like Murakami on autopilot. In his best novels Murakami seems to guide the reader towards some greater truth or understanding, and if in the end that truth is not actually revealed, the reader still feels exhilerated for having taken the trip. Kafka on the Shore lacks that, in my opinion, and comes off flat.

message 15: by Palo (new)

Palo | 3 comments what about the inability to defy one's destiny in Kafka on the Shore?

message 16: by Laura (last edited May 20, 2008 10:21AM) (new)

Laura (laurahogan) | 3 comments Totally agree with Allycks's very insightful assessment of Kafka on the Shore.

message 17: by Christi (new)

Christi (christi_r_suzanne) | 5 comments I wasn't a big fan of After Dark because it felt more like an outline and contrived. The other one that I just couldn't get into was A Wild Sheep Chase. I tried reading it twice and both times I got really bored in the middle of it. It just seemed to be plodding along and it wasn't going anywhere. I like slow novels, but for some reason this one just wasn't doing it for me.

I did love Norweigan Wood, Wind up Bird Chronicle, and Dance Dance Dance. I think Dance Dance Dance is my favorite so far.

message 18: by Deena (new)

Deena | 1 comments Kafka and After Dark didn't really do it for me, but After Dark was especially disappointing. I think its the only Murakami (of the 6 0r 7 I've read) that didn't draw me into his world. Even the let down that was "kafka on the shore" had me reading compulsively, and wrapped up in the texture and feel of Murakami's writing, "after dark" did not.

I felt nothing too special once I had turned the final page, and very little about it plagued my thoughts afterwards, as did his other work.

message 19: by Eric (new)

Eric | 10 comments i liked after dark.

message 20: by Ingrid (new)

Ingrid (crepesuzette) | 6 comments I liked "After dark" as well. Although some of the conversations were a little too direct for my taste, I loved the idea of the story which unravels in one night. I loved how the characters touch each other's lives in unknowing ways. For instance, I really liked the moment when the young guy who plays in a band (forgot his name) picks up the ringing cell phone of the prostitute in the convenience store by chance and hears the voice of the gangster telling him that he cannot escape from what he did, that he knows what he did. The guy then starts thinking about this message as if it was meant for him, when of course we as the reader know exactly for whom this message was meant. It is a touching moment in the story which shows our tendency to seek meaning in chance events...I also enjoyed the camera as the reader's viewpoint. Another way of understanding this novel (it felt more like a short story) is through another big theme of Murakami's : using one's free will vs allowing life to just happen and take its course. Staying up at night takes some definite use of free will!

message 21: by Hertzan (new)

Hertzan Chimera (hertzanchimera) I'm not being a c*nt or anything, but this threads about Disappointments.

not "but I really liked [book title]'


message 22: by Ingrid (new)

Ingrid (crepesuzette) | 6 comments You are right. But I just had to come in defense of that novel.

I have not been disappointed yet by any of his books. Although I have only read his 4 most recent ones and will work my way through them all. I am a recent fan. :)

message 23: by Hertzan (new)

Hertzan Chimera (hertzanchimera) I think any REAL fan would have a book from a favourite writer he/she REALLY DIDN'T LIKE. No?


message 24: by Ingrid (new)

Ingrid (crepesuzette) | 6 comments I suppose I am a SURREAL fan...No, but seriously, I think you are right that nobody can write consistently great books all the time that will please everyone. A writer or any artist needs to take risks in order to evolve and that means writing some weaker work sometimes. There's nothing more awful than becoming a product with the same tricks over and over.


message 25: by Dean (new)

Dean | 10 comments I think that he's kind of inconsistent as a short story writer. Several times I have had the impression that some of them were just ideas he was tossing around but that they never really becaem fully realized. I have wondered if some if it may be due to something being lost in the translation or perhaps cultural differences.

message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

I think the Murakami's I have a hard time attempting to get through would have to be Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World and Dance, Dance, Dance. I've started those two books over and over again and never been able to get through the first couple of hundred pages. I fight with them, add them to my summer reading lists and somehow never get through them. Ah well, some day soon, some day soon.

message 27: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Martin | 6 comments Really?? Dance Dance Dance is my fav. murakami book. I totally relished in it, there's somethign about it that seems exceptionally funny, and free, and I love how it's like a secret sequel.

message 28: by Brandon (new)

Brandon (brandbryson) after dark...my least favorite murakami, and i've read them all.

message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Kafka on the Shore disappointed me primarily because it started off so well...and then just spiraled into complete nonsense at the end. *Sigh*

I keep hearing what a let-down After Dark is so I might skip it entirely. Unless it's free, of course.

message 30: by Mark (new)

Mark | 7 comments I saw a stage production of Kafka on the Shore last night. Obviously there had to be a lot of creative interpretation, and some was good and some was bad. In some ways I really enjoyed it: I thought that the actos who played Mr. Nakata did a good job, and it was interesting to see because Nakata is probably my favorite character in any novel. They also gave crow a more prominent role, which I think worked well in lieu of the narration possible in a novel. Because the book is long, they couldn't include all of the bits and pieces that connect in so many ways, and in the end it had much less of the metaphysical feel that is characteristic of Murakami's work. The second act also ended by connecting too many loose ends, instead of leaving off in mystery.

message 31: by Zan (new)

Zan (zankini) | 6 comments Oooh, me too! I absolutely love Dance Dance Dance, it's such a sweet, strange, funny mystery and flirts so nicely with the key truths of living. After the Quake, Kafka on the Shore and Wind Up Bird definitely come next in line.

But this was about disappointments, huh? Kind of amusing actually, it's hard for most of us to find any Murakami we didn't actually like!

Elephant vanishes is my least favorite, I'll say that much. :)

message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

i'm going to see kafka on the shore on halloween, and i am really looking foward to it. i'm glad to hear that your response was overall pretty positive, as i would hate to go into it with low expectations. interested to see how they re-work it for the stage (and thanks for not giving too much away here).

message 33: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Wondracek (mirume) | 17 comments Mod
Oh wow, I didn't realize Kafka on the Shore had been taken to the stage! I keep saying I have to visit Chicago, and now I MUST. :)

message 34: by William (new)

William Graney | 29 comments Hopefully it will still be playing when the Cubs win the Wrold Series.

message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

...you mean when the white sox win the world series, again.

message 36: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (glinda) | 3 comments Go Cubs!

Sorry, my husband is from Chicago and I figure since I've been subjected to all their games so far this year, they'd better win the series. (Of course I've only watched the games we can get on WGN in NY and I've been reading while watching all of them, but still.)

message 37: by Eric (new)

Eric | 10 comments Hey Sarah I think you meant RED* sox, but back to the topic at hand. I have yet to be disappointed in Murakami. The closest thing to disappointment is that we are currently reading The Elephant Vanishes in one of my college classes. I thought it was going to be neat , but turns out I enjoyed the stories more before I had to write papers on them and listen to everyone else in class give their lousy analysis on each one.

message 38: by Kim (new)

Kim (ktran29) | 5 comments Eric wrote: "Hey Sarah I think you meant RED* sox, but back to the topic at hand. I have yet to be disappointed in Murakami. The closest thing to disappointment is that we are currently reading The Elephant Van..."

I can't even imagine how a teacher would organize a class on a Murakami work. What was the format? Was it more like an open forum or was it a guided analysis in some way?

message 39: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony That's a great question. I'm curious as to the response as well.

(Go White Sox! Go Brewers!)

message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

I amend my comment about Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the world. I grabbed it up off of my bookshelf, and read through it and absolutely loved it. Then I finished Dance, Dance, Dance.

After Dark is now my next ones to tackle, considering I got about five pages into it and never finished it. I interlibrary loaned it on Audiobook and STILL never got passed the first disc.

That book is an epic stinker, for now.

message 41: by Ricardo (new)

Ricardo | 3 comments I would have to say his memoir - What I talk about when I talk about running. It just wasn't that particularly interesting. I run as well and I think I got more out of Dean Ottati's The Runner and the Path. It was definitely different from his other novels and I guess that's why it's a memoir. I did like how Murakami explains in the preface that it's just a couple of musings on running and you can take it or leave it.

message 42: by Ricky (new)

Ricky | 2 comments Not that I think it's horrible, but I was let down by Norwegian Wood. This could be because I read it immediately after Dance, Dance, Dance, which is much more surreal and soaked in hardboiled detective fiction. I found the characters in Norwegian Wood to be very annoying and self-centered. However, the sotry itself was still beautifully written.

message 43: by Jesse (new)

Jesse (Walden) | 5 comments I didn't really care for Sputnik Sweetheart.

I received a lot of hype from my friends about it ( for example, I went to a party and a buddy of mine announced that I was reading it, and was therefore on suicide watch) and after reading it I didn't really want to kill myself nearly as much as I did after reading the chapter about the Real World in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

message 44: by Ingrid (new)

Ingrid (crepesuzette) | 6 comments Interesting. I really enjoyed Sputnik Sweetheart. To me, it was the opposite of a novel that would inspire someone to suicide. After all, it ends with the main character (K?) moving forward in life with a renewed sense of energy. One of the most wonderful things about Murakami, and one of my friends always comments about this...is that Murakami in his novels offers you clues as to how one might cope with reality and its harsh truths (the darker side of nature which is hard to accept and deal with) so different people might interpret various metaphors in different ways. His novels are like puzzles one can put together in many different ways with astounding and beautiful results if you use all your senses (you have to be like the heroine in Sputnik Sweetheart). The beauty of them is that, to me, they are about creating meaning out of whatever life throws randomly at you. And that is a very hopeful message. It's about deconstructing and reconstructing...the job of an artist perhaps?
So many questions and so many answers...

message 45: by Dan (new)

Dan (-dinny-) | 5 comments hi, i read after dark and was a bit underwhelmed by it, maybe it would have fit better into one of his short story collections?

And on another point, does anyone know the piece of music on his website here http://www.randomhouse.com/features/m...

message 46: by Ginnetta (new)

Ginnetta Jefferson Rabb

message 47: by Dan (new)

Dan (-dinny-) | 5 comments Ginnetta wrote: "Jefferson Rabb"

thank you so much!!!!

message 48: by Henry (new)

Henry (hsanch) | 11 comments
I was an avid reader until I ran into books like Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow and Kurt Vonnegurt's Breakfast of Champions (to name only a few). I was pissed that authors could write such (to me) incomprehensible dribble. I was so bummed I actually changed my reading preference from mainstream novels to Sci-Fi. After many years I came back to the novel and learned that a movement had happened while I was off in space. i knew that If I was to regain my joy of reading I had to learn about it. It is called post modern literature and Murakami's works are almost textbook examples of it. One could teach Post modernism from them. This style, while trendy, can't make a book good or bad per se, but in the hands of Murakami, it works brilliantly.
When Ingrid's write (#46) "It's about deconstructing and reconstructing...the job of an artist perhaps?" it reflects a post modern view.
Here's a little more from Mary Klages " Postmodernism, . . . . follows most of these same ideas, rejecting boundaries between high and low forms of art, rejecting rigid genre distinctions, emphasizing pastiche, parody, bricolage, irony, and playfulness. Postmodern art (and thought) favors reflexivity and self-consciousness, fragmentation and discontinuity (especially in narrative structures), ambiguity, simultaneity, and an emphasis on the destructured, decentered, dehumanized subject."http://www.colorado.edu/English/cours...
Like Ingrid, I see Sputnik Sweetheart, in part, as a story about how an artist comes to terms with his/her craft and his/her role in life but he characteristically avoids the stereotypical views about artists. It is purely left to the reader to decide.

message 49: by Lewis (new)

Lewis (theterminalbeach) Kafka on the Shore, while I didn't entirely dislike it (in fact I enjoyed it quite a bit in some places), left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. It seemed a bit too ambitious, trying to clutch a few too many concepts plus Kafka didn't really strike me as likeable. That said it wasn't too bad of a read plus I'm sure I'm missing something in the text and will re-read it at some point.

message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

I change my previous statement again. I've been eating Kafka on the Shore and I absolutely love it.

Now if I could only finish Dance, Dance, Dance.

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