Book for March: The Sputnik Sweetheart; Haruki Murakami.
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.
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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.