Monday, August 25, 2014

"Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki", a novel by Haruki Murakami

This is a well written and thoughtful book, and worth every cent and minute one puts into it.  Despite his great reputation, Murakami had been read here only once before, that being "after the quake", a book of short stories.  That was several years ago, but the impression that is remembered from then was that the writing was in one sense understated and in another as much an expression of virtuosity than a cohesive reading experience.  This is the first time back, and it was worth the leap.

"Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki" is an accessible and in one sense a conventional novel.  The magical realism and surrealism that is in some of Murakami's work was absent, that is if one accepts that dreams don't count, and they don't.  Everyone has dreams.  This is the story of five extremely close high school friends, three boys and two girls, who have bonded into a unit of one, and then what happens as they move on in life and become fragmented.  It is in one sense a mystery that takes years for the protagonist to solve.  In another sense it is the story of an evolving life that is universal and accompanied by prodigious storytelling that unfolds in a way that can hold one's attention completely.

Much of the story keeps coming back to a piano piece from Lizst's Years of Pilgrimage, "Le mals du pays."  It began with one of the teens being a pianist and that being her most frequently played melody which she did with eloquence.  For several of the characters it became almost the background music of their lives.  Music played a role in the one Murakami book that was read, and I understand that it is an important aspect in many others.  As an aside, he and his wife once owned a jazz club in Tokyo.

This has not been an adequate description.  "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki" is a wonder, a novel on the edge of philosophy.


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