on 20 June 2004
With 'Dance, Dance, Dance' Murakami has scored another major hit. Here we have a typical Murakami anti hero, a journalist who specialises in magazine articles of the most un-inspiring variety. He is fascinated by an old relationship and by the hotel in which this came to an end. he re-traces his steps back to the hotel which is no more and that has been replaced by a stylish and modern hotel. But something is not right. The resulting quest to find out the truth about his past lover, the hotel and the other characters he meets takes us into the usual Murakami world, part urban realism and part magical realism.
It say on the sleeve that Murakami most be one of the greatest novelists in the world - probably true this! A truly original talent.
on 27 March 2005
I've been aware of Murakami as a writer for a couple of years now, but it wasn't until last year that I finally bought a couple of his books (needless to say, very soon afterwards I bought the rest and devoured them one after the other). Dance Dance Dance is very much in the vein of Hard Boiled Wonderland & The End Of The World, and A Wild Sheep Chase (to which this book is a sequel, though it doesn't matter too much if you haven't read it) - in turns surreal, scary, funny, romantic and moving.
While it isn't my favourite story by this author - that would be a toss-up between Norwegian Wood and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - it does contain some utterly fantastic characters and typically unusual plotlines that keep you guessing even after you've reached the final page. If you've never read Murakami before, this perhaps isn't the best place to start, but it should on no account be missed.
Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949, and is one of Japan's most famous authors. He started writing at twenty-nine - the inspiration, apparently, appearing out of nowhere at a baseball game. "Dance Dance Dance" is his sixth novel, was first published in 1988 and is a follow-up to "A Wild Sheep Chase".
About four years have passed since "A Wild Sheep Chase" and the events of that book still cast a long shadow over our still-nameless narrator. For about six months after he returned to Tokyo, he tried - and failed - to figure out just what he'd been through. In doing so, he became a virtual recluse - he rarely went out in daylight, lost touch with just about everyone and avoided the real world as far as possible. However, some news did filter through - his ex-partner's new business is doing very well, while his ex-wife has now remarried. Still, it was only when his cat Kipper died that he decided to reconnect with society. Nevertheless, he leads a very solitary existence, is plagued by doubts and it still seems like he's just drifting through life.
During "A Wild Sheep Chase", our hero had stayed in the Dolphin Hotel in Sapporo with his then-girlfriend. Although he knew she'd earned a living as a high class call girl and an ear model, he never actually found out what she was really called. (Since the end of that book, however, he's discovered her name was Kiki). As this book opens, he's been suffering from a recurring dream - he's back in the hotel, and he can hear someone crying. He is now certain that Kiki is calling him back to the Dolphin, and that she's been crying for him in his dream. Although he feels he's now back on `steady ground', he decides there's only way he can move forward with his life : take a month off work, return to the Dolphin and find Kiki again. Unfortunately, he doesn't even get through the front door of the hotel before he gets his first shock : the Dolphin is now 26 stories of fashionably expensive steel and glass and the former owner is nowhere to be seen. The staff all appear charming, though nervous - apart from the goons in the back office - and initially, no-one is willing to talk about the hotel's former incarnation.
Luckily, our hero gets a little help as the book goes on. Yumiyoshi, the receptionist at the Dolphin's front desk, is the first to step forward. Then, there's Ryoichi Gotanda, an actor our narrator had been at school with - Kiki had made a very brief appearance in one of his movies. (In fact, it was Gotanda who was able to supply the name 'Kiki'). The book's most likeable character, however, was Yuki - a 13 year old girl who'd been staying with her mother in the Dolphin. (Yuki also had psychic tendencies, and, is spite of liking Culture Club, was probably the wisest character in the book). The Sheep Man returns briefly, though he's in really bad shape.
"Dance Dance Dance" has a great deal in common with "A Wild Sheep Chase" - occasionally sad and a little surreal in places. However, it's a very enjoyable read at the same time and it lands closer to a happy ending than its predecessor. Totally recommended, but read its predecessor first.
on 21 October 2010
Like the hiss and crackle of vinyl, there is an almost palpable darkness between the lines of this heavily symbolic, intermittently surreal, introspective mystery story. Effectively a fourth instalment in Murakami's Trilogy of the Rat, Dance Dance Dance is also a self-contained novel.
The story is told by a nameless narrator as he recalls his search for his former girlfriend, an enigmatic part-time call girl whose sudden disappearance had abruptly ended their brief romance. When he sets out to find her it is the beginning of a distinctly modern, low-key adventure.
Adrift in a society driven by consumerism and corporate sponsored desires, with his only social reference points buried in out of date popular culture, he embarks on a journey around Japan and outside it that is continually engaging and funny.
Gradually, his idiosyncratic commentary reveals the feelings of loss, alienation and loneliness he struggles with, and the growing difficulty he faces understanding his identity as his connections to the past are severed.
Murakami himself has described Dance Dance Dance as a novel that he wrote to heal after a strenuous project and it has been criticised as a weak example of his work. It is less popular than Norwegian Wood and less highly praised than either The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle or Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.
There are, as ever, many memorable characters, especially the schoolgirl he befriends, her interesting family and the prostitute he enjoys a brief liaison with.
Named after a song by the Dells, this was my favourite book for a long time.
on 8 October 2007
Murakami in my opinion is one of the greatest living writers and Dance Dance Dance is no exception. In a similair fashion to a lot of his books we are on a journey of self discovery with the main character. There is philosophy, mystery, comedy, surrealism, and a the heart a great story (that I do not want to spoil). This is a follow up to "A Wild Sheep Chase" however it really isn't important what you read first. I would say that this is a much better novel that "Sheep Chase". Somehow Murakami is able to pull you into his stories with such a spell, that you feel everything is happening to you.
His books also inspire me to enjoy all the details of life.
on 10 June 2007
Dance Dance DAnce is a follow up novel to a Wild Sheep Chase, but it stands very much on its own as a book. You don't particularly need to read Wild Sheep Chase before this one. Anyway, I can say that Dance Dance Dance is a huge improvement on a Wild Sheep Chase (which I thought was pretty dire). Murakami delves into the surreal with this one, and usually when he writes about surreal metaphysical situations, it either tends to be really symbolic and thought provoking or really contrived. This however is Murakami on form I think, and found the peculiar situations that occur to the main protagonist to be reminiscent of Philip K Dick. Furthermore this books was definitely more mystery than his others too. And was really involved until the last page. He also manages to capture the feeling of loniliness really well within the book. And found myself thinking about the book alot days after I finished it. It's definitely one of the better Murakami novels, and definitely one of the darkest
Having recently found Murakami, and being entranced by his writing, I am in the process of reading all of his books.
I found this one the hardest to put down so far, and read it in 2 sittings over a weekend. As always Murakami blends the surreal with the everyday, and creates a mood and atmosphere which draws the reader in and holds you there. I found myself having to know what would happen next, slightly spooked by some of the surreal parts, and captivated by the mixture of alienation and hope which Marakami has created here.
I found myself lost into this book, and I was needing that. You can't ask for much more in a novel.
Great stuff - bring on the next one!
on 3 March 2002
In a similar vein to most of Murakami's novels; Dance Dance Dance is surreal, poetic and very readable. In contrast to some of his later novels, in which Murakami doesn't 'close out the story' so well, this book is more complete. It's still sassy, and still interspersed with Murakami's excellent asides and comments on modern society. It's also a continuation of a theme - The Sheep Man reappears, and the theme of 'inter-connection' on an alternative plane that forms such a major part of the Wind-up Bird Chronicle is encountered here also, as is the interesting, 'wise beyond her years', teenage girl.
As with every Murakami novel I've read, it is impossible to put down, thought-provoking, and a genuine escape. It also continues to motivate me to visit even more places in Japan than I already now wish to!
on 4 January 2016
A member of staff in my favourite bookshop recommended Murakami to me, and, though unnamed, he will not go unremembered. He has my eternal gratitude for introducing me to this amazing Japanese author. He has a hard-boiled style with a sympathetic edge. His writing has one eye on the hard ultra-capitalism of the modern world, and the other firmly set on the true, un-monetised side to life.
To be shamefully honest, I chose Dance Dance Dance based on the title (reminiscent of my favourite scene in Burial at Sea) and the cover (just the right amount of creepy). The book delivered on the promise of the broken record on the front cover, with music and creepiness persistent themes throughout. It also delivered something I hadn't expected: an incredible story that lingers in the imagination long after you put the book down.
Any attempt to summarise the book would (A) fail, and (B) do a disservice to anyone who reads the book. The barest of bones is this: it follows a journalist finding his way back to life from depression. But don't let that sway you either way - if I read that description, I wouldn't read the book. It's so much more: a picture of a few months from the perspective of an unique, complex character who consistently manages to deflate the atmospheric cool of the book with his self-conscious un-cool, growing into his 30s and adjusting to the unalterable advance of time with world-weariness and a dash of hope.
All I want to do now is read more Murakami books. I urge you to do the same.
on 12 March 2008
Having been increasingly disappointed by Murakami's more recent works (especially After Dark, a Murakami by numbers exercise and the reviews of the German translation of his 'Marathon' book aren't too promising either) I turned to one of the few early novels I hadn't read so far. Was the prequel 'A Wild Sheep Chase' extraordinary in subject matter, style and drama I am somewhat left deflated by 'Dance Dance Dance'. In contrast to other reviewers I believe it to be necessary to have read Sheep Chase to at least get some 'meaning' out of Dance. I have long since given up on a point in Murakami's books but this one comes across lost and warbling.
However, and this is what the 3 stars are for, it is, like all his books, a page turner. This will seem a contradiction to what was just said, and I really do not know how he does it, but his style is so smooth and likable that even when one ends up thinking 'so what for crying out loud?' one still wants to finish the book.
If you have never read Murakami, try Sheep Chase first, then the outstanding Hard- Boiled Wonderland, then Wind-up Bird. In my opinion that's all you ever have to read by this author, but those books will stay with you for a very long and happy time.