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November 20, 2005

Tenth Meeting - South of the Border, West of the Sun

This month's book was South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami.

It's a deliciously short and light read, wherein the arc of an average man's life from childhood to middle age with its attendant rhythms of success and disappointment becomes the kind of exquisite literary conundrum that is Haruki Murakami's trademark. The plot is simple: Hajime meets and falls in love with a girl in elementary school but loses touch with her when his family moves to another town. He drifts through high school, college and his 20s before marrying and settling into a career as a successful bar owner. Then his childhood sweetheart returns weighed down with secrets:

"When I went back into the bar, a glass and ashtray remained where she had been. A couple of lightly crushed cigarette butts were lined up in the ashtray, a faint trace of lipstick on each. I sat down and closed my eyes. Echoes of music faded away, leaving me alone. In that gentle darkness, the rain continued to fall without a sound".

South of the Border, West of the Sun

We had a pretty lively discussion about this book. Two of the group hated it, commenting on its 'two-dimensionality' and lack of empathy with the central character Hajime. Others liked it, although at least two of us would rather have read 'Kafka on the Shore' or 'Norwegian Wood' as better examples of Murakami's writing.

Posted by nathan at 01:00 PM | Comments (0)