Sputnik Sweetheart

Sputnik Sweetheart - Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel So this was the fourth recommendation of Murakami that I've read... When will I learn? At this rate, I shall have ended up reading the entire oeuvre of an author for whom I have no great affinity, purely because people whose opinions I respect have recommended him. "Ah, but you haven't read 'The Wind-up Bird Chronicle' yet!" I hear my fellow readers saying. Aaargh!

I liked this more than 'Hard-boiled Wonderland' and 'Kafka on the Shore' and less than 'Norwegian Wood', which is much the strongest of his novels that I've read, from my point of view.

On the plus side, it was brief and easy to read and rather charming at times. Some of the imagery is quite beautiful, but too often, you can hear it applauding itself as it makes its entrance.

On the minus side were all the usual objections. His works are so formulaic, which might prove comforting if you happen to like the niche that he has carved for himself, I suppose. The narrator was absolutely indistinguishable from all the other twenty-something, male, cool/not cool Murakami narrators that I've encountered. Once more, there's some beautiful, unattainable, young female love interest. Inevitably, there's the sexy, older female love interest there too. Next to arrive is the listing of cultural items, which may be unaffected enthusiasm on the author's part but which comes across as showing off. Then the mystical element makes its appearance and it's New Age business as usual.

I remain unconvinced and fearful that before too long, I shall be in the company of another cool/not cool male narrator on the trail of his young and unrequited love interest... Ah, well, there'll always be that older love interest as compensation.