8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
My first Murakami,
This review is from: South Of The Border, West Of The Sun (Paperback)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. From the first paragraph I was gripped by the flowing prose and intriguing characters. What is particularly remarkable is that the main character is not particularly likeable, and yet I found myself totally caught up in his life and thoughts.
The novel starts when Hajime is twelve years old and his best friend is Shimamoto, a girl with a limp, whom he spends precious hours with listening to her father's record collection. As Hajime grows older he becomes more reckless, first having a passionate affair with the cousin of his girlfriend and later on having flings whilst his wife is pregnant. When he is twenty eight Hajime briefly sees Shimamoto and follows her, but they never speak, and Hajime doesn't see her again until she walks into one of his jazz bars almost ten years later. The novel charts their developing relationship.
I liked the themes throughout the book: being an only child, the nature of love and desire, why people do bad things, the tediousness of office jobs and modern City life. This was my first Murakami book and I'm looking forward to reading others. To be honest, I can't believe that I enjoyed a book so much that ended with so many unanswered questions. Shimamoto's life after she and Hajime were together when they were twelve remains a complete mystery, and the significance of the envelope with the money in it also raises plenty of questions.
Overall this was a fairly short, stylish read - just as I like them. Highly recommended.