South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

There are many Murakami books. However, it need not be said that some are better than others. So if you are looking for the “best of the best” regarding on of Japan’s best postmodern existentialist’s, than you could do a lot worse than Murakami. Provided, reading Murakami you are unlikely to achieve a high level of proficiency in your concentration as Murakami’s novels tend to center on the subtextual side; or, the meaning being primarily within the “unsaid” content, the plot “within the lines.”      

                In this novel, Murakami writes of a man- Hajimie. Hajime is a confused person, to say the least. He, as a youth, is influenced by the revolutionary movements of his day, yet, as an adult, becomes a small business man; which, as we know, is as contradictory as Nazi Maoism. Complicating matters further is the fact that Hijime is stricken by a beautiful girl from his childhood. Needless to say this woman becomes a major thorn in his side (probably in addition to being a bulge in his pants). Yet, as seems the tendency in fictional accounts of… anywhere, he overcomes his intense hormonal fluster and surmounts his awkward horniess. Let’s be honest, at the end of the day, this is what most novels are about.

Regardless, this book I can tell you must have been an emotional priority for Murakami. The characters and events contained within are based off of only those which have affected actual people. Surely Murakami had not formed these people without a substantial amount of influence, the fact that the novel ends with the protagonist contemplating the future course of his life, is but a small bit of the total existentialist aspect. While this novel is nowhere near as dense, as say, After Dark, it is difficult in its own right simply in concerns to romance and what represents actual love.

If I am being completely honest, I can say that this is my favorite Murakami book. The characters, setting, and general plot, meld perfectly. The story is coherent and highly emotional. In fact, there were several moments when I thought I needed to place the novel down before continuing, Though if you are not among the existentially dispossessed, you will likely find this novel less than amazing, I hope, and suspect, you will enjoy this novel much as I; assuming if you are an iota like me.


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