Jul 20, 2010

[Books] Dance Dance Dance

Dance Dance DanceHaruki Murakami remains to be one of my favorite novelists. His particular approach to storytelling is unique among authors plus his concepts are a bit out of his world. Okay, maybe very out of this world, but that's really one of the main draws of his stories.

His books, for the most part, stand alone. They're all masterful independent works that all remain independent. In his earlier years, there were a series of novels that were loosely related to one another. In terms of those that were translated into English and slated for a broader release, the one stands apart given it is in fact a direct sequel to a prior work, that being A Wild Sheep Chase.

I'm still of mixed opinions in terms of whether or not I'd like to see more sequels to his books. Part of the joy of exploring his titles is the fact that every novel feels like a new adventure. Each title is a completely new world to explore and this remains a very fun experience. Then again, there are a lot of characters that I'd love to learn more about and stories that I'd like to see continue on.

It's really up to the individual to decide how things should go.

Dance Dance DanceImage via Wikipedia
Dance Dance Dance, as mentioned earlier, is a direct sequel. Thus we're back in the shoes of the original protagonist from A Wild Sheep Chase, who never really had a name.

In this chapter, our protagonist finds himself drawn back to the Dolphin Hotel, a place of special importance to him and the woman he loved. She's been missing for some time now and he has no idea why she left so suddenly. His search for the hotel reveals that it's no longer there - in its place is a brand new establishment that's a lot more grand than the old one.

In the course of his search, he's plagued by hallucinations or visions of the missing woman and that of another figure from the prior book - the Sheep Man. The English translation depicts his speech as complete sentences without spaces between the words - an interesting approach to depicting his monotone, hurried speech. In the last book he was a man with oracular visions and this continues on in this title. But beyond that quirk, we do get to learn a bit more about the man and how he had come to be the way he is.

This book is closely linked to the prior title and I can't imagine reading this one without having read the other. It's still possible if you really push it but there are just so many references and allusions to the prior title that it would be a major waste not to read the other one. This may be considered to be a strength of the novel or a weakness, depending on your tastes and how you've come to appreciate his stories. This is definitely not a first book I'd recommend to someone wanting to give Murakami's writing style a chance.

But there is no question that this is a great addition to any Murakami library. The way he puts stories together is amazing and the end result is a clear example of how the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Plus I think I have a thing for strange characters like the Sheep Man. It's hard to explain what makes him so uniquely endearing, but that's just how I see things.

Dance Dance Dance is a good example of how closely tied to the original tale a sequel can be. It gets 3.5 depictions of loss and longing on the part of the protagonist out of a possible 5.
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