Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Book Review: South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

south of the border west of the sun front cover
South of the Border, West of the Sun (front cover)

Title: South of the Border, West of the Sun
Published date (English):
Originally published by Kodansha in 1992
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
ISBN: 0375402519
Genre: Japanese Literature, Contemporary, Romance, Horror

This is the 4th Haruki Murakami book I've read. As expected, It has his style and ingredients in writing but I think this one's not his best.

"The sad truth is that certain types of things can't go backward. Once they start going forward, no matter what you do, they can't go back the way they were. If even one little thing goes awry, then that's how it will stay forever."
Shimamoto (pg. 147)

For the full review, just scroll down below (or click the 'Read more')

south of the border west of the sun back cover
South of the Border, West of the Sun (rear cover)

south of the border west of the sun flap cover
South of the Border, West of the Sun (flap cover)

south of the border west of the sun book spine
South of the Border, West of the Sun (book spine)

south of the border west of the sun vinyl single etched
South of the Border, West of the Sun (vinyl single disc etched in the book)

Warning: contains spoiler; commentary of the book reviewer does not necessarily reflect the views of the audience.

At first, characters tackles the "only child" stereotype. Both Hajime and Shimamoto were "only child" and when you're an only child you're like the center of attraction. After they parted their ways for the senior high, Hajime met Izumi in his new school. Izumi wasn't his first sex but Hajime's first one is with Izumi's cousin (ah, yes, this book has adult content). Izumi learned about Hajime having sex with her cousin and she was hurt.

Let's jump, several years have passed, Hajime luckily married a girl that change his work of like. He established a Jazz bar. His low life became a good life with also the help of his wife's father. Upon Hajime's first born child with Yukiko, a funeral letter arrived. It's about Izumi's cousin who died for no mention in the book (see pg. 73). Yes, the death of Izumi's cousin doesn't matter as the next pages have moved on ahead with discoveries about Hajime's other girls. I quite hasten the pace of my reading because I'm trying to reach the story where and why Izumi's cousin died. I guess, It doesn't matter, he just had sex with her in the past. It's just a sex for Hajime, no love at all. My impression is, I don't like this guy Hajime. It's like, he has no concern at all or the author just cut the scene because it doesn't really matter. I don't know if I'm going to be annoyed to Hajime or to the author. I can't fully fathom what he wants to do with his life. I think, the character and the book is reaching insanity.

Moving forward, due to Hajime's Jazz bar popularity, his first love Shimamoto dropped by to his bar. About Shimamoto's polio, she told Hajime that she had an operation 4 years ago and the Doctors did a lot of scraping of her bones. In this part, I find it so ridiculous. I'm sorry if I'm thinking from a scientific view and I know this is fiction but I can't take this unbelievable operation she's saying. I wonder if the Doctor scrap the unaffected leg? Or perhaps, Murakami mislabeled her disease wrong. It might be a physical deformity or some kind of mutation she got during her mother's pregnancy. It can't be polio if the Doctor did scraping. I think, what will be left to her affected leg is her bone marrow if the Doctor really scraped it. It's just can't really happen.

Another one, Shimamoto talked about the illness called hysteria siberiana where she analogically explained how farmers plow land in a Siberian tundra and then, they eventually die because the inside of them dies. Something bothers my mind about "plowing". I wonder what do farmers farm in Siberia. I doubt they have anything to produce in speak of Agriculture. I like what she's trying to convey - death - but farming in Siberian tundra is out of this world. Haruki Murakami is really out of this world. It's just can't really happen too.

About the book title, It mentioned the "South of the Border" was sang by Nat King Cole but upon googling it up, there's no such song sang by the said artist but It might referencing to a song about Mexican border, perhaps. This book really made me curious and also search stuff because the things placed in this book are questionable.

I'm giving this book a score of: 3.0 / 5.0

I think, this book is a fail. I dislike the real life elements he referenced in his book like "South of the Border" song and the questionable farmers in Siberian tundra. It's a bad or wrong reference.

My review ends here. Thank you for reading :)

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