A Wild Sheep Chase – Haruki Murakami.
Now, where you do you start to talk about a Murakami book, even that is pretty confusing. As it has been said time and again by so many that his books are either a hit or a miss by a long shot. I fell in love with him, his writing and his amazing characters after reading my first Murakami (Kafka on the Shore) and there was no looking back. Hence picked up his first book (Book 1 of Rat Trilogy) after a friend sent him the fourth book from the series (Epilogue). Imagine he wrote a Trilogy and ended it with a fourth book as an Epilogue. Got me all hooked from the very first one as of-course I predicted and what an amazing journey it had (still has) been. Finished the third book today afternoon and I still do not know what the protagonist’s name is or what is the real name of his best friend “Rat” is as he is always referred as the Rat. Or their best buddy’s name (called J) who owns a bar and they’ve been frequenting it from College (first book) to their works (second) and even in third where they are about to hit their 30’s. May be because these are the initial books that he wrote hence it is like that but I am having a ball of a time keeping a very keen eye to see if he mentions any names anywhere. The closest I got in this book and almost he had me having a wide grin on my face is when the unnamed protagonists lands in a Hotel and the manager asks him to sign the register 🙂 but he damn well uses a fake name and not his real name. Even his girl friend I shouldn’t fail to mention has no name, she is referred as the girl with most beautiful ears, the moment she ties her hair in a pony the world stops revolving and everyone just gets mesmerized by the beauty of her ears and she has some special powers to (read the book to know more).
As I said the third book of the Trilogy and story hasn’t gone much ahead. Our hero is now married for four years, his wife walks out on him, he makes a new girl friend (the girl with the beautiful ears), they have moved ahead from their earlier business of translation to advertising, his friend the Rat is gone on a sabbatical location unknown. J has opened a new bar somewhere far. All hell breaks lose in this one (after 50% mark) is when he prints a unique sheep’s picture sent by the Rat to him in an advertisement. A super rich man on death bed assigns him of the task to find the Sheep in picture or lose everything he had by not taking up the challenge. What he does next or where his journey takes him in search of the Sheep is the rest of the book but how it all ends is simply terrific (read typical Murakami) still he refuses to give you a closure of sorts as he always does with his books I believe. So many unanswered questions and so many cross connections that I could make out but not sure if they are really there or am I just confused. But there is a silver lining as I now have the fourth book which he wrote as an Epilogue. Guess another 400 pages to satisfy my questions, queries, confusions or the metaphors he has created in these ones so far. I hope that gives me the answers.
As always the case is with any of his books and stories, this too has superb book(s) and music references. It actually did put a wide smile on my face as the books, Authors and quite a few music references are something that I have read and listened too in the recent past and some that I haven’t have gone to my “To Be Read” list as always. The western influence on Murakami’s writing is pretty much evident I believe this one onward as I plan to go forward with his other works and is damn impressive. He surely knew right from the very start how to keep his audience hooked and to keep em happy at that. Have you read the “Rat” Trilogy? If you have, please tell me that I am going to get that closure by the end of the series, if not, I will say do think before picking this up :). If you like long prose with nowhere going story yet with so many stories thrown in between, do read this series or else stay away.