TBR Pile challenge (from Roof Beam Reader), found at Tasseled Book Blog. It’s time to get through that stack of unread books!

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Book for March: The Sputnik Sweetheart; Haruki Murakami.

sputnik sweetheart

I believe the first book of Murakami’s I read was The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, which was on a top novel list I found online somewhere. After I finished it, I added a small stack of his books to my TBR list on my library webpage. There they have waited for years, and very occasionally one gets read.

*   *   *   *

3 star

Murakami plots are always a little hard to explain, tending towards complicated interweavings, a juxtaposition of the completely average and the outrageously unlikely, layered by stories within stories. So any summary doesn’t really capture the story very well. But here’s one anyway.

K is the narrator, a friend of twenty-two-year old Sumire. Sumire is a college drop-out, and aspiring writer, and K is very much in love with her, but he can’t tell her that. He gives her advice and help when he can, and enjoys her company as best as possible.

And then Sumire falls in love. As K says, the person she falls in love with happens to be married. And seventeen years older. And a woman. But love, which Sumire had never felt before, has her firmly in its grip, and leads her to do some crazy things to spend time with the object of her affections–beautiful, stylish, wealthy businesswoman Miu.

Sumire goes so far as to accept a job assisting Miu at her work, and to travel with her on a business trip. And then Miu calls K, who she knows is Sumire’s friend, panicked because Sumire is missing. She asks for his help, and he can’t say no. So he goes and learns more than just Miu’s secrets.

Like anything I’ve read by Murakami, the story is… peculiar, to say the least. It jumps around, skips over some events, hints at others, and provides a great deal of detail on seemingly trivial things–but the story that falls into those gaps is still interesting. And the themes of love and loss tie the characters and the story together. The characters are lost, drifting, until something extraordinary happens. They’re easy to relate to, because who hasn’t felt lost a time or two?

The events are never completely explained, and the ending is a little abrupt, but the story is still magical, and a good read for Murakami fans.

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About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

7 responses »

  1. Jay says:

    Nice post. I’ve enjoyed all the Murakami books and stories I’ve read thus far. I struggle explaining why to others, though, since his style is so “odd”… I blogged about this book a while back at

    http://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/sputnik-sweetheart-by-haruki-murakami/

    -Jay

  2. Letizia says:

    You are so right, Murakami stories are hard to summarize, but you do a good job. I’m a fan of his novels although his trilogy, 1Q84, wasn’t my favorite.

    • caitlinstern says:

      I liked 1Q84, though I might have liked it better shorter. Especially since I read them in one wrist-breaking book.

      I think one of the things I like best about Murakami books is you have to work for them–exercise that brain. 🙂

  3. Love Murakami. I almost picked this up, but instead got his short story book “The Elephant Vanishes.” His writing is so vivid. I will definitely be reading this, sounds like something I would like.

  4. […] The Sputnik Sweetheart; Haruki Murakami. […]

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