Review: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Colorless Tsukuru and his Years of Pilgrimage

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
By Haruki Murakami
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780385352109, August 2014, 400pp.)

The Short of It:

Loss, longing and the power of memory. This novel is like a drug. I was mesmerized while reading it.

The Rest of It:

This is classic Murakami…and not.

Every time I discuss this book with another fan, we end up agreeing that it’s a classic but at the same time I cannot help but peg it as ‘different’ in some way. Let me tell you about the story first. It’s about a guy name Tsukuru Tazaki. He had some good friends in high school, two boys and two girls. They completed one another and there was no hint at all, that their relationships would not last. But to Tazaki’s surprise, all four friends stop talking to him. Instead of investigating further, he decides that he is the one “without a color” as all of their names represent a color and his does not. In his mind, he is the outcast and seriously considers ending his life.

But as he goes through life simply existing, he meets two key individuals that force him to reconsider. One is a friend who has many similar likes, and yet he maintains an air of mystery that Tazaki cannot explain. The other, is a girlfriend who forces him to seek out his friends to put closure on the situation. She asks him to do this before they can take their relationship further, and in his eagerness to move into the next stage of their relationship, he decides to find them and hopefully find out why they abandoned him so many years ago.

As a long time fan, I find that this novel is a mix of old and new. It’s much more straight-forward in the telling. There are a couple of elements that could be fantastical in nature, but overall, the story is simply told. The themes that I’ve come to expect from Murakami are all here. His characters are always these lonely souls searching for something or someone, there is always the question of, is it real or is it a dream? As a reader, you can’t be sure. The story can be interpreted many different ways and that is what makes this such an exciting read.

Many of his books can be “out there” with the talking cats, the sexy ear lobes, the awkward sexual encounters and the like but even though that stuff can catch you off guard, they are SO Murakami to me, that I missed them in this novel. Missed them, but not enough for it to affect my enjoyment of the novel itself. It’s a different type of book for him and it has me wondering if he is evolving as a writer. I know writers do at some point, but this work is decidedly different in tone. I still loved it, but I always wonder if the writing has changed or the translation had something to do with it.

It’s getting harder to choose a fave these days. To date, I do believe that Kafka on the Shore is probably my favorite but it was also my first and probably the most wild of his books. However, Colorless is probably right up there but for different reasons. One of which, is that a very similar thing happened to me a few years ago. Friendships can be complex to figure out in general but when they go wrong, sometimes there is no rhyme or reason as to why and it’s baffling. I cannot to this day make sense of what happened to me and at this point in time, I don’t want to waste the energy trying to figure it out but it sure makes for some good reading when it’s happening to someone else!

If you want to give him a try, start with After Dark. It’s not too long but has a good mix of what I’ve come to recognize as his signature style.

Murakami recently announced a short novel to be released in the US this December. What? Yep! Another one! This one is called The Strange Library and let me tell you, it sounds like it’s back to surreal city. I. Cannot. Wait!

Special note from Ti:

When I was chosen to be a Fan Ambassador for Colorless, I was given a few copies of Norwegian Wood to giveaway. I will be posting that giveaway soon but wanted to give you all a heads-up since I gave one away recently via Facebook and some of you might have thought you missed it.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: A Wild Sheep Chase


A Wild Sheep Chase
A Wild Sheep Chase
By Haruki Murakami
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375718946, April 2002, 368pp.)

The Short of It:

Quirky, thought-provoking and strange. In other words, classic Murakami.

The Rest of It:

I’m not sure why it took me so long to finish this one. I purposely held this one back so that I’d have a novel to read before his new book came out, but when I finally allowed myself to read it, I think it took me almost three months to finish it! Unheard of. Seriously.

Why? Well, it’s one of his more quirky ones. It’s very dreamy and surreal in a lot of ways, but at the same time, it’s very “normal” and domestic, if you know what I mean. There is a lot of eating, and thinking and yes…drinking. The main character is sent on a wild sheep chase. No, seriously. He’s sent to find a sheep with a peculiar mark upon its rump. He meets all sorts of strange people, including a woman with magical, seductive ears and a man who likes to dress-up in a sheep costume. It’s all very bizarre but also fascinating. I marveled at each paragraph. Maybe that’s why it took me so long to read.

The story itself did not pull me in like some of his other stories have, but that’s not to say that it wasn’t good because it was. It’s definitely a book to ponder and coming here to share the review, well, is a bit of a challenge. What do you say about a book that is just so odd in so many ways? As I have said before, Murakami has a way of working all the parts of your brain that you haven’t used in awhile. He’s great for putting an end to a reading rut and his writing is somehow comforting in all its strange, little ways. I find myself seeking him out, after reading a lot of mainstream fiction.

After all my Murakami gushing over the years, some of you have taken the plunge and read him. Many of you have come back to tell me that you enjoy his writing. The rest? Some are too intimidated by him to give him a try, but I have hope.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

The Sunday Salon: The Murakami Unboxing

Sunday Salon

Hello friends! OMG! Last week was THE most difficult week. Lots of stuff to deal with. Lots of deadlines. I was running all over heck with my head partially cut-off. I tend to hold it all in, so looking at me, most probably thought I was okay but inside I was losing my $hit. No kidding.

The highlight of the week was receiving my Murakami prize pack for the Fan Ambassador thing. I received it, fawned over the package and then fell into bed in an almost comatose state because I was so tired. The next day, I was going to tear it open but I thought it might be fun to record it even though I cannot stand myself on video. See how much I love you all?

Here is the “unboxing” in all its glory. This is a straight out of the camera recording and unfortunately, The Teen was out of focus with his camera skills in some places but that is what I get when I ask him to do it right after he wakes up.

As mentioned in the video, the giveaway details I am still pondering so look for it soon.

What am I reading?

With Murakami behind me (wiping a tear) I am diving into The Little Friend by Donna Tartt. I typically read more than one book at a time but I haven’t figured out which two to add to the one I noted above.

I keep mentioning an October read-along. It’s coming. It will be fun. It promises to fit the season perfectly. We will announce it soon.

What am I cooking?

I bought the most delicious Italian sausage to make some pasta. Sausage, sautéed with onions, garlic, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms and a tiny bit of cream.

What am I watching?

We watched The Lego Movie which was actually very good. The Hub was not a fan at first, but he changed his mind about a quarter of the way through. It’s very different and very clever but still “kiddish” unless you are a huge fan of Legos. I know a lot of adults are.

I hope to hit church this morning and then the rest of the day is open. What do you have planned for today?

Fan Ambassador – Oh Yes!!!

Fan Ambassador

Do I look happy in this photo?? That is because I am!! I am so freakin’ happy because I was chosen to be a fan ambassador for Murakami’s new book, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. You may remember that the quote card contest did not go well for me. Ahem. Right after that, I entered this other contest to be a fan ambassador and I got word yesterday that I’d been chosen! They didn’t really define what an ambassador was but I am interpreting it as “super fan” and I am most definitely that (and then some).

Colorless Tsukuru and his Years of Pilgrimage

I won a signed copy of the new book and I get four copies of Norwegian Wood to hand out. As so many of you know, I love this author and I was so sad when I wasn’t chosen to receive a review copy but this makes up for it! I am about 20% into the Kindle version and I am completely absorbed by the story.

Anyway, thanks so much for all of your quote card contest votes and putting up with my daily blathering on Facebook, Twitter and everywhere else. Once I get the books, I will host a giveaway.

Happy Friday!

It’s Finally Here!

Colorless Tsukuru and his Years of Pilgrimage

It’s here! It’s here! Well, not really. I have yet to buy the hard copy but the library surprised me by sending me the eBook last night at 9pm! I bet you know what I was doing before bed. Yes!! I read a chapter or two for sure and then this morning I read a bit more.

Early thoughts:

Tame
Slightly different writing style (could be the translation)
Characters are starting off strong

I actually prefer paperback versions but the first edition hard covers have a sticker sheet so you can design your own cover. Think I can snag one? We’ll see. There is even a sticker competition! Click that link if you want to see the cover up close and personal. By the way, if you are using Chrome, that video may not play. I can’t get it to play on my end but it works in the other browsers. Just thought I’d mention it in case you are unable to open it.

The quote card contest didn’t pan out for me but I did apply to be a book ambassador. I have high hopes that I will be chosen. Crossing fingers.

Are you reading it today too?

Haruki Murakami Quotecard Contest – Please Vote for Me!

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Murakami Postcard

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Oh my goodness. Yesterday on Facebook, Knopf posted a contest for a chance to win a signed copy of Murakami’s new book!! Oh my goodness! I would totally come unglued if I won a signed copy. Anyway, I designed the postcard you see above. If you’d vote for it, I’d be ever so grateful.

Here is the direct link to the card. Voting can take place once per day too!

Also, if you would like to submit your own design, the link above also includes the link for you to submit your own. If you do, let me know so I can return the vote. Thanks!

Cover Lust

New Murakami Covers

I am shaking my head because this is so unfair.

I finally, FINALLY own all of Murakami’s novels in paperback and what happens?? They come out with these awesome new covers.

If you look closely, the images on the cover contain clues:

The Elephant Vanishes

See how that center image resembles an elephant’s trunk? Clever, huh?

I. Need. These.

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