Hitsuji o meguru bōken (A Wild Sheep Chase)
I had certain expectations for this one. I had read Kafka on the shore – read and really liked – but I bought this particular book for a rather silly reason: the sheep. I like sheep (the real animal and the funny cartoon-like drawings) and the story sounded like it’s be about some magical sheep; which is, in theory, pretty cool.
About the book though…let me be brief: I didn’t like it. It didn’t annoy me either: it was easy to go through (in fact, this just may have been the best thing about it), unpretentious but occasionally far fetched, sketchy and stereotypical. The story goes like this: a simple guy in his early 30s receives a letter and a photo from a long lost friend and, at the friend’s request, he decides to introduce the photo in some advertising materials for an insurance company. As soon as he does that, he is visited by a strange man, the secretary (a bit like Kobayashi, I thought) of the mysterious “Chief” who asks (umm….forces) our peaceful hero to go on a quest for one of the sheep (the magical starry backed sheep) that appeared in the picture .
Of course – I was making it sound like less than it is – the plot is more complicated than that, there’s a bit of going back-and-forward with the story, the sheep’s miraculous powers of possession (and desire for anarchy) are described in more detail and the hero has a girlfriend with magic ears (how could I forget that? 😛 )
I usually love it when something supernatural sneaks up on you in the middle of the most mundane of moments…but it this case, the pieces didn’t click. Or maybe they didn’t click with me. A blurb on the back cover of my edition (blurb which belongs to Harper’s Baazar) says something about Mr. Murakami managing to break the impenetrability of the Japanese prose with his colloquial style – and it’s true. Except that they mean it in a good way, and I don’t, not when it comes to this novel. I still have The Wind up Bird Chronicle waiting for me, but I think that’ll be the last of his novels I’ll read. And I still have high expectations for that one 😛