If you’ve never read any Haruki Murakami, it’s tricky to describe his style. And at the risk of causing the book-blogging corner of the interwebs to implode, his style is not really my cup of tea.
South of the Border, West of the Sun tells of Hajime, a middle-aged man reflecting on his youth and in particular, his relationship with Shimamoto, a fellow only-child and his only true friend.
The story is simple but oddly melodramatic; the narrative jumps all over the place – from the minutiae of daily routine to broad generalisations about life; the characters reveal deeply personal thoughts and yet are strangely detached.
“The hands of the clock run in only one direction. I started talking to myself, drinking alone at night. I was sure I would never get married.”
“What would become of me tomorrow I did not know. Buying my daughter a horse – the idea took on an unexpected urgency. I had to buy it for her before things disappeared. Before the world fell to pieces.”
There were snatches of writing that made me pause – “…some feelings cause us pain because they remain…”, and I understand that there are distinct themes and carefully chosen analogies throughout the story but regardless, it was a spectacularly bad choice for me to read on the beach.
2.5/5 Sorry fans, I didn’t like it much.
Hajime owns a jazz bar where they serve a signature rum and vodka cocktail – “It’s easy going down, but it packs a wallop.” I suspect this one would do the same.