Tag Archives: Literary Fiction

Review: Dance, Dance, Dance

Dance, Dance, Dance

Dance, Dance, Dance
By Haruki  Murakami
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780679753797, 1995, 416pp.)

The Short of It:

Part mystery, part fantasy…Dance, Dance, Dance is a beautifully crafted, wicked-good example of a surreal story that works.

The Rest of It:

An unnamed protagonist is on a quest to find his missing girlfriend. Along the way, he plays chaperone to a wiser-than-her-years teenager, cavorts with call girls and reunites with a friend from high school who just happens to be a famous A-list celebrity.

Dance, Dance, Dance is actually the sequel to A Wild Sheep Chase. Although I’m sure it would have been better to read them in order, my enjoyment of the novel wasn’t affected in the least by not doing so. I was completely and utterly mesmerized the whole time through.

Murakami is a master of dialogue. When his characters speak, I listen. It might be the most mundane thing coming out of their mouths, but for some reason, I always find myself sitting on the edge of my seat when they speak.  I think it has to do with the complexity of his characters. They’re complex, so their dialogue doesn’t have to be.

The other thing that works for me, are the surreal story elements. Normally, I cannot stand surrealism in literature. It usually takes me out of the narrative, but Murakami uses it carefully to emphasize the harshness of reality. I find myself completely willing to drink the Kool-Aid, and that says a lot.

As much as I enjoy his writing, and his continual references to Western culture, I know that many may not care for his writing style.  This is the second novel I’ve read by him, and it too, contained quite a bit of sex and a bit of violence. Not enough to bother me though. The other thing that might bother a reader are the untidy, open-ended endings. Again, not a problem for me.

Is Murakami for you? The only way to tell is to actually read one of his books. He’s a rock-star to me but you already knew that…

Source: Borrowed

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Review: Model Home

Model Home

Model Home
By Eric Puchner
(Scribner, Paperback, 9780743270496, September 2010, 384pp.)

The Short of It:

Puchner creates one of the most heartbreaking stories of our time. Sad and beautiful, its message resonates.

The Rest of It:

Dreaming of untold riches in the real estate market, Warren Ziller moves his family to a gated community in (Rancho) Palos Verdes, California.  There, they live the American dream. Nice house, nice neighborhood. But Warren has a secret. The real estate development that he’s invested in has tanked, and his family has no idea what looms ahead.

Once in a while a book comes up out of nowhere and just slaps you in the face. I first heard about Model Home when it was featured in this year’s Tournament of Books. Simply put, it sounded like my kind of book. It was set in Southern California, it had all the family dynamics that I seem to crave, and dysfunction… lots of it. I expected to enjoy it, but I did not expect to love it as much as I did.

This book will break your heart.

You will re-read passages over and over again because Puchner’s writing is so exquisite. His writing is both beautiful and raw, which doesn’t even sound right when put together in one sentence.

You’ve got your whole life ahead of you, people liked to say. In truth. there was not much time, a blip, and most of what you did was a mistake. You were lucky to find a safe and proper home. In the end, even the world cast you out, withdrawing its welcome.

The characters are so well-developed, that I cried for them. Their predicament is so dire at one point, so delicate and precarious that I had to pace my reading or be overwhelmed by grief.

If you search for reviews on this book,  you’ll see that many found this book to be depressing. I didn’t. It’s an honest account of a family falling apart, but in many ways it’s hopeful too.

I want everyone to read this book. It’s my fave of the year (so far) and if you happen upon the interview with Eric Puchner, discussing the book, hold off on it until you’ve read it because it gives a huge plot point away!

Source: Purchased.

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