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Murakami: Where to start?

PongePonge Registered User regular
edited February 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm in desperate need of a new book to read, and I've been meaning to try some Murakami for a while, but I have no idea which book to start with.

Any suggestions are appreciated.

Ponge on

Posts

  • metaghostmetaghost Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Wind-Up Bird.

    His novels largely share a certain structure and various motifs, and I'd say Wind-Up Bird is more or less the apex of his form.

  • admanbadmanb the bored genie Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Alternately, you can get a feel for his surreality/disregard for literary norms in less than 700 pages with Sputnik Sweetheart. If I hadn't started with that I think I would've had a harder time motivating myself to read Wind-Up and Kafka on the Shore.

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  • ruzkinruzkin Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Can anyone tell me whether Wind-Up is worth persisting with? I Loved Kafka on the Shore and Dance Dance Dance, but 150 pages into Wind-Up I feel like I'm wasting my time. Also, I loath the main character and want him to die.

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  • grungeboxgrungebox Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Wind-Up Bird picks up a lot, but there's no coherent "plot" or anything. It's been a few years since I read it, and I think it took maybe 2 months to get through the first 200 pages, then 2 weeks for the other 3-400. Yeah, and Toru never becomes someone you really like or relate to...he's supposed to be a non-descript non-person. I consider him like Meursault (the Stranger).

    Norwegian Wood is less daunting, and much more straightforward than Wind-Up Bird, and I think it's a better book overall though that's a little like comparing oranges and clementines.
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  • DiscoZombieDiscoZombie Registered User
    edited February 2010
    I loved dance dance dance, and south of the border, west of the sun. Loved em both. Thanks for reminding me he exists, I want to read moar stuff now. dance dance dance was more surreal, the other one was more character-based, if I recall correctly. If you want a more "normal" novel to ease you into his stuff, SotB, WotS was pretty normal, as plots go.

  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    ruzkin wrote: »
    Can anyone tell me whether Wind-Up is worth persisting with? I Loved Kafka on the Shore and Dance Dance Dance, but 150 pages into Wind-Up I feel like I'm wasting my time. Also, I loath the main character and want him to die.

    It took me two years, off and on, to finish Wind-Up Bird. It was worth it.

    Additionally, The Elephant Vanishes, a collection of short stories, is a great place to begin. It has the germination of some other of his work within, including the initial exercises for Wind-Up Bird.

    I just finished After Dark, which was wonderful but not his best. It was a quick and enjoyable read.

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  • SamSam Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Norwegian Wood, although it's the mosty atypical of his books. Still, it's a Murakami book that should appeal just as much to non Murakami fans.

  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    blind willow, sleeping woman is a collection of his short stories and probably contains some of his best work. i also love the wind-up bird chronicle and had no problems finishing it or relating to the protagonist. it's more interesting both structurally and in its subject matter than a lot of his novels

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  • YougottawannaYougottawanna Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Man I never come here but I noticed this thread on the "latest post" thing. Huge Murakami fan here.

    I would start with a short story collection. After the Quake and the Elephant Vanishes are both good. For novels, my personal two favorites are Sputnik Sweetheart and South of the Border, West of the Sun. Sputnik Sweetheart is more typical of his style, South of the Border is less surrealistic or magical realistic or whatever genre you think he usually writes in.

    For some reason Kafka on the Shore seems to be his most well-known book over here, but it's not his best (though I do like the characters in it).

  • PongePonge Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Wow, the replies here are pretty scattergun! Which is what I expected to be honest given what I know about his work.

    Thanks for the replies guys, i'll probably go with a book of short stories to start with, a friend recomended Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman so may well try that.

    Cheers again,

  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Honestly, regardless of what you choose you'll have a good time.

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  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    The first book of his I read was Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World as a college freshman, and I was hooked. Having read most of his stuff, I think it's weak compared to a lot of his other stuff (though more fantastical): it's still good read.

    It hasn't been referenced ITT, but A Wild Sheep Chase is also very good: that, Dance Dance Dance, and Wind Up Bird (his best work IMO) are my favorites.

    Of Murakami's work, the plots meander, they put me in a contemplative and brooding mood, I usually don't really know what's going on, there's usually a point where I'm afraid(?) to continue reading, and I love them.

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