As if anyone reads these days

by Sandra

Michelle used to compile a summer reading list.  She hasn’t done it in a couple of years, and she recently blogged about its absence.  In the comments section of that post, she also challenged me to get the list started again by suggesting — recommending even — a book for everyone’s reading enjoyment / edification.

So, to that end, I give you…

Haruki Murakami’s A Wild Sheep Chase.  I just mentioned Murakami in my last post, and truthfully, Sheep Chase is the first and only book of his I’ve read (yet, anyway).

“Oh, Murakami,” the cashier at Powell’s had cooed, “you’ll either love him or hate him.  My friends can’t stand him, but I think he’s great,” she said as I slid the book across the counter for her to ring up.  I’d felt as if she’d given me some sort of cosmic wink, or a secret handshake, granting me access to a world of subversive literary hijinks.  It took me a long time to finally get into the book itself, though.  I had been a little put off by the register maven’s enthusiasm — after-all, what if she’d simply been a proponent of bad taste and all of her supposed friends were right?  What if I would hate Murakami?

Well, I finally dug in, several months ago, and am glad to report that I do not hate Murakami.  In fact, I feel quite the opposite.  Something akin to love — inasmuch as one can feel love for ink printed on paper.

The book a mystery, as the title might suggest, as our hero finds himself jostled from his rather staid existence in urban Tokyo, on a mission to find a sheep (naturally) that eventually leads him to the mountains of Japan, sharing bourbons with a man wearing a sheep suit.  There are shades of David Lynch in the book — a stylistic cousin to Twin Peaks, but without all the weird sex.  Murakami’s writing is the literary equivalent to a vodka and pineapple, or a whiskey sour — clever, a little funny at first, but just waiting for the right time to give you a blow straight to the side of your head.  Surreal yet never off-putting;  burst-out-loud funny one minute and ghastly strange the next, you’ll find yourself marveling at the man’s sick wit.

I hope to sample more Murakami as time goes on — but much like one who wants to try foreign foods or extreme sports — with that knot of excited fear in the pit of my stomach, knowing I’ll enjoy myself yet unable to anticipate what will come next.

To those of you uninitiated, consider this your secret handshake.

Who’s next?