by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have really liked most of the Murakami I have read, but I was disappointed by 1Q84 (900+ pages and LOTS of unresolved plot lines) so I was a bit nervous about this new book. It turned out to be one of his most approachable, however, and all the threads of the story are reasonably concluded. There is one section which is a bit surreal (it is a story a character tells), so if you like that aspect of Murakami's work there is a little of it, but mostly the action of the story is pretty straightforward.
Like many Murakami novels it is the story of a young man looking back on his earlier life and trying to make sense of where he is now. I liked the character of Tsukuru Tazaki and I thought his interest in (obsession with?) railroad stations was cool and provided a lot of opportunities where the character could watch the world as it moved along and consider his place in it.
For example, the section about the Shinjuku Station:
"During rush hour, that maze transforms into a sea of humanity, a sea that foams up, rages, and roars as it surges toward the entrances and exits. Streams of people changing trains become entangled, giving rise to dangerous, swirling whirlpools. No prophet, no matter how righteous, could part that fierce turbulent sea. It's hard to believe that every morning and evening, five days a week, this overwhelming crush of human beings is dealt with efficiently, without any major problems, by a staff of station employees that no one would ever accuse of being adequate, in terms of numbers, to the task." (p. 360-1)The hardcover edition of the book (which I got from my public library) was designed by Chip Kidd and is really beautiful.
If you want more Murakami madness there was a recent episode of Books on the Nightstand about the release of this book and Brona's Books had a post that includes a link to the piece of music in the novel.