Saturday, September 17, 2011

South of the Border, West of the Sun

I finished another Haruki Murakami book today. South of the Border, West of the Sun.  This one was certainly smaller in scale than Kafka on the Shore or The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.  It's simple, actually: Hajime had a friend in his youth named Shimamoto.  They bonded because she was an only child, like him, which was rare in the early sixties in rural Japan.  He loved her, although nothing romantic ever happened between them.  When he was twelve, Hajime moved away, and the two friends did not keep in touch.

Now Hajime is nearly forty, with a wife and two kids.  He owns a pair of successful jazz clubs.  He loves his wife and thinks of himself as happy.  Then Shimamoto reappears.  Hajime's intense friendship with her resumes, kept quiet from his wife.  But Shimamoto is mysterious, and does not let him in on many things going on in her life.  She disappears for months at a time, and will not tell him why.  He wants to know, but really just wants her in his life, and so does not push the issue.

I should stop my summary there, before I just type out the ending.  But, in what is apparently typical Murakami fashion, not all the answers are given.  In fact, I found that frustratingly few of them were.  In the two other books of his that I read, I didn't see this as a weakness, necessarily, as the material was so dense that leaving some threads still tangled seemed okay.  But here, I wanted more.

I have another book of his out of the library that I'm going to start next.  We'll see what I think.

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