I hated this book when I first finished it. I thought: unresolved. But then… As I’m typing this, I’m listening to Liszt’s Le Mal du Pays: also known as his Years of Pilgrimage. It’s coming from my phone that now has Elvis’s Viva Las Vegas as a ringtone (if you read this, you’ll know why). As I look back, I’ve also spent considerable time pondering the goings of people, back and forth. And then there is the whole color and name aspect. Maybe I love this novel after all.
Haruki Murakami's novel features two of the S words found in many of the Japanese writings I’ve seen: suicide and sex. But it also has another important S word: spirit. Yes, many may see this book as depressing because undecided—colorless—Tsukuru Tazaki ponders suicide for six months. He sits there, unmotivated, unmoved. Yes, many may be offended at Tazaki’s lurid sexual dreams and fantasies. However, as I let this novel sink into my soul of understanding, I can see that it is more than these things: a deeper meaning. Add to this the important facets of friendship, colors, music, art, name meanings, and—train stations. The novel opens, closes, and is built around the moving trains.
I haven’t yet decided what it all means to me. Maybe it’s melancholy. Maybe it is being satisfied with our own places in life, not yearning to achieve more at the sacrifice of others, and being comfortable in our own skin. Each of us has a designation; we all complete a perfect circle. Some of us hurt. Some of us are distracted. It all goes back and forth until the last train heads out and fades away into the night sky.
No, I don’t hate this novel. I love it very much.
Thank you to my friends at Knopf for sending this to me electronically for review. I’ll be thinking about this for a long time to come.