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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life affirming story
What is power? What is life? What is living? Murakami explores all those questions in a hauntingly beautiful and absurdist tale of an everyman on a hunt, then a quest, to find a curiously marked sheep with mysterious powers. Reveling in his mundane life, the protagonist and un-named author reflects the sterilie modern life: our daily routines are but anesthesias against...
Published on June 5 2006 by Joshua Nguyen

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3.0 out of 5 stars Murakami excellence doesn't hold this weird story together
'A Wild Sheep Chase', written with Murakami's deft touch, is a strange story about ... a wild sheep chase. The actual plot is a bit hard to summarize but it involves our leading man, a disillusioned Japanese 'salaryman', being hired by a mysterious power broker to find a mystical sheep in the wilds of Hokkaido. Of course the story is wacky, but it moves along nicely and...
Published on March 19 2003 by lazza


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life affirming story, June 5 2006
By 
Joshua Nguyen "j.fisher" (China) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel (Paperback)
What is power? What is life? What is living? Murakami explores all those questions in a hauntingly beautiful and absurdist tale of an everyman on a hunt, then a quest, to find a curiously marked sheep with mysterious powers. Reveling in his mundane life, the protagonist and un-named author reflects the sterilie modern life: our daily routines are but anesthesias against the encroaching dangers of a truly lived life. In his own words, the narrator searches for boredom instead of trying to escape it. Then the sheep spector appears, and begins to wreck his carefully constructed persona -- beginning to pump life into what before had only been shadows of emotions (e.g. J's bar, a dried beach)

This is a great leap down the rabbit hole and back -- and upon coming back, a sense of melancholic affirmation will linger with you beyond the finished words.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Contemplative Apocalypse of the Curious, June 11 2004
This review is from: A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel (Paperback)
I like to think of there being two very different kinds of novels: ones about characters, and ones about events. Some try to tell a story of something that happened, some try to tell a story about the people that fill up this world.
Of these two, the work of Haruki Murakami is definately character driven. The entier point of his books, actualy, tends to be the people in them, looking for eachother, separating and reconnecting, beeing twisted together in the braids of fate.
Some people, (esspecialy those who prefer the events-driven novels) may be frustrated with this book, because for much of it, very little in the way of events happen, and when events do happen, they are so strange and outlandish that one is half tempted to ignore them as tall tales fabricated by the characters to pull at our collective legs.
Thus, if a reader is of the right mindset, one can discount the plot and events entierely as some bizzaro-world never-never-land hallucinations, and cut straight to the jewels of the book: Murakami's ecstatoc observations about people, places, and things that are normaly so mundane in our life that we just over look them. By brining these banal things under such intense scrutiny he presents a world more fantastic then reality, more concrete than fantasy, and reminescent only of the way you must have looked at things as a child, where a bug in a jar was as fascinating as a plasma screen TV.
I will tentatively outright recomend Murakami to anyone, however, I will attach to that recomendation a warning, that you shouldn't be surprised (or take it personaly) if you don't like it.
To really appreciate his work on a personal level you have to be cut of the same cloth as a mad scientist, a Buddha, or Humphrey Bogart, although which one - I'm not yet sure. Ultimately, though, I think it is safe to say that a persons opinons on literature are more a reflection of themselves than it is any objective judgement of quality. When I praise a book, that just means it's my kind of book, or I'm it's kind of reader. When I dislike a book, that means the book and I are at odds, not that either of us are bad, but that, like some people, we just don't get along.
Murakami is so forcefull and eccentric that it would not surprise me if there are a good number of people who don't get along with his books, but there should be equaly many people of the same ilk as the madness in his books that can admire his unabated and perpetualy unsatiated expressions of an unapologeticaly surreal outlook on life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rich and delicious imagery drizzled over braised mutton, May 11 2004
By 
This review is from: A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel (Paperback)
I never would have thought that so much could be built from such a simple premise, but Haruki Murakami manages to wrap a small woolen mammal into something much larger: a conspiracy that draws together powerful forces and interesting personalities as our protagonist is sent (somewhat against his will) on a wild sheep chase. The title is perfect: this is a book about a quest to find a sheep: both literally, figuratively and spiritually.
The plot can be confusing (and even somewhat boring in the first part of the book), but it pulls together nicely at the end. The real enjoyment, however, comes from the descriptive qualities of Haruki Murakami's writing. He is able to capture an immense quantity of personality and flavor in even the most off-hand observations. This technique was so successful in capturing my attention as a reader, that any other minor shortcomings are easily overlooked. In fact, I finished the book happily thinking "wow, what a great book!" and could only really criticize pieces upon reflection.
Combined with the plot (yes, somewhat confusing) and the characters (which seem flat on the surface, but are very "real" and likable), this descriptive quality made A Wild Sheep Chase a real joy to read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Food for thought, March 20 2004
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This review is from: A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel (Paperback)
Murakami is known for his unconventional storytelling, sometimes completley surrealist, in which images have more importance than ideas. When he seems to be trying to say something cohesive, it's still hidden behind layers of strange imagery. What I liked best about A Wild Sheep Chase was that the message was so direct - and, at least to me, interesting. It seems to be suggesting that humanity and 'greatness' are irreconcilable (of course, it's a lot more complicated than that), which is especially interesting in contrast with a reference to Yukio Mishima near the beginning. I found it very though-provoking.
On other levels, though, it isn't so succesful. A lot of the characters are very thinly drawn. This may be intentional; it works in the case of the main character, who I guess is supposed to be one of those everymen, but his girlfriend, for example, has such a total absence of personality that when she disappears from the narrative, it seems like an attempt by the author to get rid of an awkward character. A few of the characters really are outstanding - the villians, and one eccentric chauffer, but they are mainly present in the first half of the book. Later, when the narrative rests entirely on the protagonist and his girlfriend, it gets somewhat boring. Its first novel status, though, is more than an excuse for that. I still recommend it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Woody Allen and Savador Dali meet Samuel Beckett, maybe., June 28 2003
By 
Ian Muldoon (Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel (Paperback)
I like this book very much because I couldn't help identifying with the central character who reminds me in some ways of Woody Allen's screen persona - a nerdish type loser of no particular physical attraction who has a way with words and who usually gets a very attractive woman to sleep with, though he spends most of his time rueing what he HASN'T got and is continually in search of that SOMETHING. This novel is about a quest. About dreams. And finally, about the realisation that life is about bugger all, so you'd better enjoy that friendship, that meal, that lovemaking, that scene, that memory, and relax a bit and have a laugh. There are laughs aplenty in this sly book, many of the laughs are in the details such as the scene where a very damaged black moggy cat sitting on the front seat of a distinguished limousine causes the Chauffer to lower the windows from time to time on account of the deletirious odour the cat emits from time to time in the form of brief but audible farts.
And I suppose, in our life we don't wander around the shopping mall thinking "themes" or "great and noble thoughts" but more like " Why does that woman get into the 8 item express lane when she clearly has 11 items?" Incidentally, the novel is also a very likeable and satisfying read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Murakami excellence doesn't hold this weird story together, March 19 2003
By 
lazza (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel (Paperback)
'A Wild Sheep Chase', written with Murakami's deft touch, is a strange story about ... a wild sheep chase. The actual plot is a bit hard to summarize but it involves our leading man, a disillusioned Japanese 'salaryman', being hired by a mysterious power broker to find a mystical sheep in the wilds of Hokkaido. Of course the story is wacky, but it moves along nicely and it is very entertaining overall. But in the end the story goes from strange to exceptionally surreal, even by Murakami's standards, and doesn't quite come together in the end. I finished the book thinking "what the heck was that all about ?!?!?".
But this book still has its plusses. The translation by Alfred Birnbaum is excellent, and Murakami captures the essence of disillusioned Japanese youth *so well*. Japanophiles will find much to enjoy (and learn) from this book. But 'A Wild Sheep Chase' doesn't come close to Murakami's better efforts.
Bottom line: mondo weird. Yokunai kedo aru teido omoshiroi. (Not very good but fairly interesting)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Murakami: Creative Force, Jan. 10 2003
This review is from: A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel (Paperback)
"A Wild Sheep Chase" is a wonderful and colorful read. Ostensibly the story of a nameless and flat protagonist as he searches for the answer to a puzzling riddle, the story sees to wander greatly in the first two-thirds of the book. The lead character, coerced into searching for a missing and mysterious sheep, never seems to sense the urgency of what his failure could mean. He is a character who feels he has nothing to lose. Indeed, his only redeeming characteristics seem to be that he cares for a missing friend (called "The Rat") and that he has enough curiosity to even push him towards an attempt at solving the riddle.
While the protagonist is very much an empty vessel, the reader of this book will find themselves attracted to the detached yet interesting interactions with some of the other main characters. The characters and scenes, for the most part, are David Lynch-like; quirky, with murky motives, and strange communications.
Structurally, the book wanders around a bit while getting started. It feels as if the author just started writing one day and learned how to tie it all together as he went along (near the end of the book). Even so, while it may feel that not much plot progress is being made, however, Murakami is able to delight the reader enough with his inventiveness that the story seems worthwhile. The book climaxes with a brilliant metaphyical dialogue between the protagonist and his friend. The last several chapters are done so well, I had to read them a couple of times and scribble all over the pages (that's surely a good sign).
I found Murakami to have a concise and enjoyable writing style that is deceptively simple for the deeply layered plot it conveyed. I certainly wil be recommending the book to my friends.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Sheep Man says "Readthisbooknow!", Dec 26 2002
By 
"moze22" (Cambridge, MA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel (Paperback)
I can name all of the books that made me feel the way A Wild Sheep Chase did. They are: The Stranger, The Crying of Lot 49, and The Catcher In The Rye. That's it. And this one definitely entertained me more than those books. I guess I'm a sucker for stories about alienation, loneliness, or confusion about one's identity, but this book is so much more than that. It's a detective story with no detective, science fiction without any spacecrafts or timetravel, and also extremely funny and erotic in parts. Murakami is a master of stringing the reader along and having him or her at his mercy. He grabs your attention early, keeps you intrigued and entertained for a long time, then even attempts to lull you to sleep before pulling the rug right out from under you. Like I said, I'm generally attracted to individualistic characters who are not sentimental or melodramatic. But Murakami adds just enough emotion to his characters (sooner or later) that your body vibrates as he tugs on the heartstrings when you least expect it.
The main character does not give us his name. There aren't many names in the book at all. "I" is recently divorced and runs an advertising/translating business with a friend. One day he recieves a postcard from a different friend who has run off to Northern Japan. The postcard is a photo of a field of sheep, presumably in Northern Japan. "I" decides to run it in an ad for an insurance company. Before you know it, a man in black arrives in a limo and tells "I" he will have two months and endless funds to find a particular sheep in the photo. This sheep supposedly has magical powers that allow it to enter people's bodies, where it then hatches plans to control the world. The man in black is a representative for a very shadowy, influential war criminal who is in a coma---the last man the sheep entered. If "I" fails to find the sheep, the man in black threatens, his business will go under and his life will be ruined. "I" agrees and starts researching sheep in Japan. Along the way, he meets a seemingly clairvoyant woman who has astonishingly perfect ears. They travel together to Northern Japan to look for the sheep and for "I's" friend who may know more than he's let on.
That's really all I can tell you. Whatever you do, don't be scared off by the talk of science fiction or magical, world dominating sheep. Obviously absurd, these things should be taken as they are---there is a magical sheep, even a talking "Sheep Man." However, there are very personal, more down to earth themes here. You shouldn't let Murakami's imagination get the better of you. Or maybe you shoud. It's a lot of fun.
There is a follow-up to this book also. It's called Dance Dance Dance and it picks up right where Sheep Chase leaves off. If you like Sheep Chase, read it. It's a good sequel, meaning not as good as the first, but definitely worthy, if only for one character named Gotanda.
Enjoy. I certainly did.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid Introduction to Japan's Greatest Living Novelist, Sept. 26 2002
By 
John Kwok (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel (Paperback)
"A Wild Sheep Chase" introduced the English-speaking world to Haruki Murakami's superb literary talent. It is simultaneously a sly homage to great American crime fiction from the likes of Raymond Chandler and a thoughtful meditation on alienation and loneliness in modern Japan. Indeed, the novel could be seen more as a critique of Western culture since the plot makes few references to Japan. Instead, Murakami constantly refers to popular Western culture. His lean, lyrical prose is quite akin to the early work of William Gibson, the noted Canadian-American cyberpunk writer. Like Gibson, Murakami introduces us to a dazzling universe of bizarre, complex characters, ranging from the protagonist to the World War Two war criminal who sends the protagonist on "a wild sheep chase", and finally, the Rat, a long-lost acquaintance of the protagonist. Through a series of carefully crafted twists and turns, the protagonist winds up in the northern edge of Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island, amidst a field of sheep. This fine novel remains a splendid introduction to Murakami's fiction. Indeed, Murakami is now regarded as Japan's greatest living novelist.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting book; perhaps a little superficial, Aug. 13 2002
By 
"dreembeleever" (Little Rock, AR USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel (Paperback)
Like Pallahniuk or Nick Hornby (his counterparts in America and England respectively), Murakami's first-person narrative has a fast-paced, personal feel. The plot unfolds in the same way such an unbelievable tale might be recounted on the stool of an intimate bar. Our hero, a recently divorced 29 year-old advertiser from Tokyo, is forced into A Wild Sheep Hunt based on his connecton to a mysterious photograph; a photograph that on the closest examination reveals a nonexistent breed of sheep. In the course of the novel, Murakami's readership is introduced to a panorama of remarkable characters and bizzare coincidences. We eventually understand that the events we're witnessing are controled by something of an invisble hand. For the greater part of the novel we are a part of a mystery of the highest form.

On the otherhand when the loose ends were quickly tied in the last three or four chapters, I was left with the feeling that the answers were less than satisfactory. There were definately moments riddled with a depth of insight (his thoughts on his ex-wife's slip or the discussion about the reproduction of body cells, come to mind), but on the whole i felt the novel was a bit superfiscial; that it was, to some extent, just an outrageous story. Murakami's inclination towards the abstract metaphor and his quiky descriptions of the visual were ofte inspired but after 350 pages the device was stale. Though the journey was extremely interesting, the destination reached was, for me, hardly worth the exciement.
This was the first piece i'd read by Murakami and I look forward to reading other works (especially The Elephant Vanishes), but it won't be tomorrow that i rush out to by one.
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A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel
A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel by Haruki Murakami (Paperback - April 9 2002)
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