_South of the Border, West of the Sun_ by Haruki Murakami

Another one by the great Murakami. Every book of his I’ve read so far (The Windup Bird Chronicals and Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World) has been really great, so when I went to the library I checked out all of his books on the shelf.

But I live in a small town now, so there was only one book by him on the shelf, South of the Border, West of the Sun. It was short, so I finished it this morning.

This one might be the most realistic books I’ve read. Nothing happened that was outside the range of natural life. His descriptions of emotions were very surreal, though. It was the same Murakami I’d grown to love.

This story is a very human story, and the jacket calls it a love story. There is no doubt that love is involved, but I’m not so sure it’s a love story.

It starts off with the hero, Hajime, as a kid. He’s 12, and has a girl who is his best friend. When his family moved to a different neighborhood, they lost track of each other. But he never forgot her.

The rest of the story talks about his romantic affairs, high school and growing up. He is finally an adult and has his life on a very successful track, with a business and a wife and family, when the childhood friend reappears.

Everything turns upside down after that.

The story is good and definitely kept my interest. I don’t know if Hajime could be called typically male. If he could,this story might be very revealing of the psychology of a cheating husband. But I am not sure he could be called typical. The story is just a little strange.

In the end, it was pretty bleak. As he portrays it, tenuous nature of love and the unreliability of human character leaves little to hope for.

Reading this book makes me rethink the others. Perhaps Murakami is more nihilistic than I realized. Then again, maybe this story is just him exploring his nihilistic side.

One thing for sure, I need to read the rest of this guy’s works.

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