*Contains no spoilers
This is a slim book. In little more than 200 pages you are able to sink into a well-rounded and thoroughly immersive story. In the hands of a less-skilled writer, this would be impossible.
For Murakami though, 200 pages is more than enough to captivate and absorb. Big in scope, the story weaves through the life of Hajime, from being a young teenager to being a successful middle-class man, owner of several high-end bars in Tokyo. Hajime recalls with relish, (and we relive) his obsessive romantic fantasies. I will leave it there in terms of the plot to avoid any spoilers.
The characters are well-formed things, deeply compelling and instantly likeable- as all of Murakami’s characters tend to be. This book is much like its physical setting, a smoky, lounge-bar affair, full of lustful and romantic desire and haunting memories. If you have ever experienced unrequited love or lustful longing then you will love this book. It’s a way to know intimately about the luscious erotic longing of one man, who is a stand-in for every man or woman you have ever met. It’s exquisite literary fiction sure, with smatterings of soft porn here and there. 5/5 stars.