Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dance Dance Dance (Haruki Murakami)

I tried my best not to search and go though online reviews about this book until I finished reading it. This is also the first ever Murakami's book I bought (with the RM200 vouchers given).
She is definitely calling me. From somewhere in the Dolphin Hotel. And apparently, somewhere in my own mind, the Dolphin Hotel is what I seek as well. To be taken into the scene, to become part of that weirdly fateful venue.
To return to the Dolphin Hotel means facing up to a shadow of the past. The prospect alone depresses. It has been all I could do these four years to rid myself of that chill, dim shadow. To return to the Dolphin Hotel is to give up all I'd quietly set aside during this time. Not that what I'd achieved is anything great, mind you. However you look at it, it's pretty much the stuff of tentative convenience. Okay, I'd done my best. Through some clever juggling I'd managed to forge a connection to reality, to build a new life based on token values. Was I now supposed to give it up?
The protagonist, whose name is not mentioned, has returned to the Dolphin Hotel in Sapporo. What was once a sad and peculiar hotel which buried deep in his memory has been transformed into a gleaming modern multistory building where the surrounding areas are booming too. From there, he makes friend with the receptionist with glasses, Yumiyoshi and a 13 years old girl, Yuki. He has also met and talked to the Sheep Man in his cramped room. While watching the movie Unrequited Love starring his former classmate (whose real name was Gotanda), he sees his missing ex-girlfriend, Kiki appear in one of the scenes. All sorts of strange connections are starting to come together.

Okay, I love this one!!! The reading started with quite a slow pace that at one moment, I thought I might give it up on. Lucky I didn't. Having read a few of Murakami's works, I thought this is the most logical I have read so far. There is nothing too absurd to follow. It can be summarized as a journey an ordinary thirty-four year old divorced man launched to reconnect with an old friend, reconsider meanings of loss and abandonment and lastly find love.
Thirty-four is a difficult age. A different kind of difficult than age thirteen, but plenty difficult. Gotanda and I were both thirty-four, both beginning to acknowledge middle age. It was time we did. Readying things to keep us warm during the colder days ahead.
Gotanda put it succinctly. "Love. That's what I need."
"I am so touched," I said. But the fact was, that's what I needed too. 
I love the murder mystery. It doesn't bother me whether or not Gotanda has indeed killed Kiki or Mei for that matter. And the friendship between the protagonist and Gotanda is well-evolved. In the last chapter, just when I thought the story would just end with a happy ending after the reunion of the protagonist and Yumiyoshi (which it eventually did).. but before that, Murakami did a great job at spicing it up with the suspense that the protagonist might lose Yumiyoshi in the dark. My heart skipped several beats. Dahlah I was alone in my apartment that night.
Yumiyoshi took the penlight from me and leafed through the pamphlet. I was casually observing my own shadow, wondering where the Sheep Man was, when I suddenly struck by a horrifying realization: I'd let go of Yumiyoshi's hand! 
My heart leapt into my throat. I was not ever to let go of her hand. I was fevered and swimming in sweat. I rushed to grab Yumiyoshi by the wrist. If we don't let go, we'll be safe. But it was already too late. At the very moment I extended my hand, her body was absorbed into the wall. Just like Kiki has passed through the wall of the death chamber. Just like quicksand. She was gone, she had disappeared, together with the glow of the penlight.

P/S: I am reading this for Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge 2012.   

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