Haruki Murakami and his writing enthrall me. This is fact.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of pilgrimage is a book that explores the psychology, one might say, of friendship.
Tsukuru Tazaki is incomprehensibly shut out of his high school friend group one day without any sort of explanation and he begins his journey of dancing on the edge of death, trying to save himself and finally finding closure with his friends’ decision to sever all ties with him. It’s a story that spans four three decades but concerns only one subject: friendship, all the whys and whens and the wherefores of it.
I did like this book, as I have done with all of other Murakami books previously. Its writing, its pacing, its imagery and everything was to the point and precise. Murakami’s writing cleaves your mind like a knife, his writing is clean and simple and wastes no time beating around bushes to kill characters or make them fall in love. It’s realistic writing, haunting almost, in how close it feels like you’re reading something that actually happened.
But conversely, because of this simple, very minimalist writing style that Murakami uses, he receives a lot of criticism for being (dare I say it?) a one-trick-pony. And truly, when you read a couple of Murakami books one after the other, they do start to blend into each other. The writing style is the same, the stories tend to also be very similar (thematically, not detail wise) and most frustratingly, most of the main characters in Murakami’s books are interchangeable. I find startling similarities between Tsukuru Tazaki, Toru Watanabe of Norwegian Wood and Hajime of South of the Border, West of the Sun. They’re all the same self-deprecating, self-esteem lacking, pretty lackluster college kids who lost something of themselves during or near the end of high school and are struggling to come to terms with it.
As for similarities in writing style, Murakami’s go-to style is a crystalline, emotionless stroke that places the reader inches away from the characters and at the same time, building up 100ft tall walls between the story and the readers. It’s fascinating when you read one of his books, it’s awesome when you read the second and the third and even the fourth but as it closes in on your fifth and sixth Murakami book, it tires you.
Speaking about this book specifically, well, I found it a good read. What was good about it?
The story was, as usual, very Murakami in that it concerned concepts and ideas that we mere mortals don’t even dream about. Our main character, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki actually begins, at one point, to wonder whether he unconsciously raped one of his high school friends. There’s an instance of how strange, morbid and utterly fascinating Murakami stories can get. He then flies halfway across the world, on a whim, to deal with past demons. Yes, our Tsukuru Tazaki has no shortage of adventures and it’s only incredible genius and creativity that can magic up a story as compelling as what Murakami narrates here.
Writing and character, as I mentioned before, are on the lethargic side though because I’ve already read quite a few Murakami novels and his style and his characters are starting to seem very similar to one another.
So good things about this book: It’s well written, it’s got great story, the characters ARE interesting and has none of that fantastical air about them; they’re real and they can hurt you.
Bad things about this book?: Both the writing style and the characterization of this book is VERY similar to those that came before this and to those who’ve already read a lot of Murakami, this may drag on. Also, what with the story being THIS interesting and THIS strangely fascinating, some may find it unbelievable which means the clear, elegant, simplistic writing style in the name of candidness may become rather redundant.
But does this mean I’m going to stop reading Haruki Murakami?
OH HELL NO.