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A Wild Sheep Chase

March 9, 2011

I’ve mentioned before that I’m taking a class at the university where I work. My brother looked through their courses online and let me know that there was an entire class dedicated to Haruki Murakami. I signed up as soon as I was eligible and have been loving the class. First we read Pinball 1973 and then moved on to A Wild Sheep Chase.

A Wild Sheep Chase focuses on the main character, a thirty year old divorced man working at a public relations/advertising/translation firm, who ends up going on a wild sheep chase. What the heck does that entail? Well, I’ll tell you – there’s a sheep man, a sheep professor, a girl with magical ears, the Rat, a Dolphin Hotel, lots of beer (and whiskey), and even more smoking.

In true Murakami fashion, this book is a crazy wild ride. The narrator and his girlfriend (with the magical ears) venture off to a small town in search of one unique sheep – a sheep with a star on his back. The narrator doesn’t exactly go on this trip willingly but, I think, the book really takes off once the adventure begins. Once on their journey, they get some help from the sheep professor at the Dolphin Hotel, find the house The Rat has been living in (but The Rat is nowhere to be found), meet up with the sheep man, and in the end – actually, what the heck happens in the end?

This book made me want to pour myself some whiskey (I don’t like whiskey), smoke a cigarette (I don’t smoke), and hang out in a log cabin in the mountains (never really done that, but it doesn’t sound too bad).

I love Murakami and the way he writes – and this book was no exception. The way he describes things are always so amazing, but in a “how did he think of that?!” kind of way. At the very beginning of the novel he is describing a father at his daughter’s funeral and writes, “He stood by the entrance and scarcely moved. Reminded me of a street washed clean after a downpour.” What a random thing to say but doesn’t it offer a wonderful description of the father and his sorrow?

I loved the line, “There’s nothing in a bar or in the world at large that says things have to be a certain way.” I also loved this passage: “I don’t really know if it’s the right thing to do, making new life. Kids grow up, generations take their place. What does it all come to? More hills bulldozed and more oceanfront filled in? Faster cars and more cats run over?”

Murakami offers so much to think about, and that’s aways a good thing.

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