In retrospect, it's a little funny that I read Dance Dance Dance before this book, its ostensible prequel. (There is something about Murakami's work that makes it easy to ignore pretext and prelude: a narrator says "this is the Dolphin Hotel, the place where I lost Kiki" and you kind of say, well, okay, that's really all the alienating table-setting I need!)

My perception of A Wild Sheep Chase — Murakami's third novel — is that it marks the shift away from his realism (later revisited in Norwegian Wood and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage) towards the surreal postmodernism for which he most famous and perhaps most revered, and in many ways this is a bit of a turning point. It reads very much like a noir: the journey to Hokkaido and to the Rat's house is propulsive and gripping and the mood of the book growing inward and claustrophobic is well-executed in a way that I think Murakami's later work often fails. The surreal here is not meant to be an object in of itself, or a force that creates mood in an otherwise placid scene.

His character work — always a pain point — is particularly rusty, though. I am glad he gave up his shtick of anonymous characters; it feels almost too on the nose, with various deutoragonists feeling like half-baked noir stand-ins than serious forces of agency or independence.

All in all: I think it's hard for me to recommend this, just like it's hard for me to recommend most of his ouevre. Which is not to say it's bad — it's not, and I had a good time — but it's Murakami bingo, for better and for worse.



There’s that kind of money in the world. It aggravates you to have it, makes you miserable to spend it, and you hate yourself when it’s gone. And

“Say, J, it took a lot of money to move to this new location, didn’t it?”

“That it did.”


“Real big ones.”

“Will that check pay off those loans?”

“With change to spare. But …”

“How about it? What say you take on the Rat and me as copartners? No worry about dividends or interest. A partnership in name is fine.”

“But I couldn’t do that.”

“Sure you could. All you got to do in return is take in the Rat and me whenever one of us gets into a fix.”

“That’s no different than what I’ve done all along.”

Beer glass in hand, I looked J in the face.

“I know. But that’s how I want it.”

Lightning bolt
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