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Staredown with the Postmodern World
on December 14, 2002
This is a very solid collection of stories that 'fit' together very well. But for practical reasons, I'm just going to say a little bit about each rather then the book as a whole. The Wind Up Bird and Tuesday's Women- The reason I bought this book. It's obviously an early working of the first couple chapters of The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. It's very interesting to read, to see murakami's plans for his epic start to bud. And like that novel, it is an excellent piece of writing. "The Second Bakery Attack"- Great story that furthur elaborates on Murakami's view of the Absurd, which, needless to say is, well, more ABSURD than the absurd of Camus. I read somewhere that Murakami is picking up where Camus left off. I think this is a great view. Murakami is Camus if he had lived in the Postmodern era. "The Kangaroo Communique"- Vintage Murakami weirdness, with a touch of creepy love. "On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning"- My personal favorite story in the collection, if you can even call it that. It's a beautfifully written piece on melacholy lost love to the circumstances of the world that none of us can see or control. Reminiscent of Sputnik Sweetheat, Norwegian Wood, and South of the Border, West of the Sun. "Sleep"- The most disappointing story. Not because it's bad. On the contrary, it's one of the best in the book. But it is crying out to be a novel. Like the first story, it seems quite possible to able to carry it out for a few hundred pages. Unfortunetly it ends with a quick, unsatisfying ending. "The Fall of the Roman Empire...etc"- Interesting. I'll just leave it at that.... "Lederhosen"- Intriguing little story dealing with individualism to the very group minded Japanese. "Barn Burning"- The most mysterious story in the book, about a writer who meets someone who claims to burn barns. "The Little Green Monster"- My least favorite story in the collection. Not up to Murakami's normal greatness. Interesting, if not anything original, is all I can say about it. "Family Affair"- Another great, personal story by Murakami about the obligation to mature. "A Window"- Forgetable, but enjoyable when reading. "Tv People" Scathing story about the insidousness of Television. "A Slow Boat to China"- A very interesting story about Chinese in Japan. I think, though, that only people with some grounding in Japanese culture would appreciate it. "The Dancing Dwarf"- Most likely the most insane story in the history of mankind. "The Last Lawn of the Afternoon"- Another story about the difficulty of love and human connections. "The Silence"- A wonderful story wherein Murakami defends the Everyman and laments the over achiever. "The Elephant Vanishes"- Good, but not great. Also forgetable.
All in all, this collection shows the whole breadth of Murkami's writing abilites, and is not something to be missed by any of his fans.