Sunday, 21 June 2015

#am reading Dance, Dance, Dance

Author: Haruki Murakami

Tags: #japan #awildsheepchase #eighties

Discovered: Working my way through the Murakami back catalogue

Where read: (in part) Novotel, Blackfriars Road, Southwark, SE1

What's the story?
An un-named writer decides to revisit a seedy hotel in which he once spent the night with a woman he loved. Years have passed and the hotel has been redeveloped yet still bears the same particular name, The Dolphin Hotel. A series of surreal experiences transpire in areas of the hotel that are seemingly trapped between the old and the new and only one other person appears to understand. 

The Word's Shortlist view:

Dance, Dance, Dance was Murakami’s sixth novel and is a sequel, of sorts, to A Wild Sheep Chase. The novel was first published in 1998 though not translated into English until 1994 after the global success of Norwegian Wood. Despite the 90s translation the work is firmly, and idiosyncratically, rooted in a neon eighties Japan with references to pop culture from ET: The Extra Terrestrial to Talking Heads.

The novel has a cinematic quality with the protagonist making almost religious visits to the cinema to see the same film and also imagining his life in celluloid; “We knew exactly what we wanted in each other. And even so, it ended. One day it stopped, as if the film simply slipped off the reel”

The book’s dream sequences are classic Murakami (when viewed through the lens of over 25 years further work). Most sequences include the Sheep Man from A Wild Sheep Chase who first urges the narrator to dance; "Yougottadance. Aslongasthemusicplays. Yougotta dance. Don'teventhinkwhy. Starttothink, yourfeetstop. Yourfeetstop, wegetstuck. Wegetstuck, you'restuck. Sodon'tpayanymind, nomatterhowdumb". The Sheep Man's unique voice, demonstrated typografically by eliminating the space between words is an interesting consequence of translation from the Japanese original.

This book may not be the best place to start your Murakami adventure (I’d firmly recommend Sputnik Sweetheart or Norwegian Wood) but if you’re familiar with the the genre that is Haruki Murakami then you’ll revel in seeing  the genesis of themes that will continue to be updated right up to more recent works such as iQ84.

“As time goes on, you'll understand. What lasts, lasts; what doesn't, doesn't. Time solves most things. And what time can't solve, you have to solve yourself.” 

Who should read this book?

Fans of the eighties, of Japan and of Mr Murakami of course

What’s next on the bookshelf

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Tweet of the week:

Really, there is now a #HarryPotter style owl cafe in #Japan - 

'That book guy', tweeting mainly about fiction and reading but with occasional sidebars into art, Japanese culture and architecture

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