After Dark – Haruki Murakami

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It’s hard to go wrong with a book that starts out at a Denny’s in Japan in the early hours of the morning. With After Dark, Murakami nails it once again.  Nice cover as well.  Props.

From Amazon

When amateur trombonist and soon-to-be law student Tetsuya Takahashi walks into a late-night Denny’s, he espies Mari Asai, 19, sitting by herself, and proceeds to talk himself back into her acquaintance. Tetsuya was once interested in plain Mari’s gorgeous older sister, Eri, whom he courted, sort of, two summers previously. Murakami then cuts to Eri, asleep in what turns out to be some sort of menacing netherworld. Tetsuya leaves for overnight band practice, but soon a large, 30ish woman, Kaoru, comes into Denny’s asking for Mari: Mari speaks Chinese, and Kaoru needs to speak to the Chinese prostitute who has just been badly beaten up in the nearby “love hotel” Kaoru manages. Murakami’s omniscient looks at the lives of the sleeping Eri and the prostitute’s assailant, a salaryman named Shirakawa, are sheer padding, but the probing, wonderfully improvisational dialogues Mari has with Tetsuya, Kaoru and a hotel worker named Korogi sustain the book until the ambiguous, mostly upbeat dénouement.

To be honest, I’m not a real fan of novels that drift in and out of reality, but its hard to resist Murakami’s hypnotic voice.

“And so we decide to transport ourselves to the other side of the screen. All we have to do is separate from the flesh, leave all substance behind, and allow ourselves to become a conceptual point of view devoid of mass. With that acomplished, we can pass through any wall, any abyss.”

Also, call me crazy but this book had a sound like a flourescent light bulb. Buzzzzzzzz.

What I liked: The characters were enjoyable especially Tetsuya the trombone player who seemed dead set on pulling Mari out of her own isolation. The setting in Murakami’s books is always so well crafted you can almost taste the flat coffee at the Denny’s.

What I didn’t like: I felt the book could have been about 100 pages longer and some story lines more developed especially with regards to Shirakawa, the man who assaulted the Chinese prostitute.

Recccomend?

Of course! For fast readers this is a long lunch read, go for it! I just wish I could get that buzzing noise out of my head…

…buzzzzzz

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3 Responses to “After Dark – Haruki Murakami”

  1. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is sitting on my shelf waiting to introduce me to the world of Murakami. Soon, soon…

  2. I’m almost finished reading The Elephant Vanishes by Murakami. As usual many of the stories play fast and loose with reality but I totally agree with what you say about his hypnotic voice and the vivid settings. The stories have all sucked me in, ambiguous endings and all.

  3. Isn’t this book great? I really want to read more of his work.

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