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“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
― Voltaire

A Wild Sheep Chase - Alfred Birnbaum, Haruki Murakami An interesting read, three and a half stars for beauty in language. While I can't say I "really liked it" in the "will re-read one day" sense, I appreciated the richness of the ideas and language offered. I normally tend to devour a book in two or three sittings, but this was a book that worked well reading three or four chapters a night, breaking into small, choice pieces. Although there is a mystery that drives the plot, I would hesitate to say that is the focus of the book, so I didn't feel like I lost tension or details. Murakami seems to work best for me when savored in little bites with the opportunity to linger over phrasing, rather than reading for plot or conflict resolution. I also couldn't escape the nagging feeling that I was missing considerable subtext, as I know almost nothing about Japanese history, or even culture. It had very Vonnegut or Kafka overtones, where there is potentially digressive philosophical musing, and whose impact is strengthened by underlying meaning.I enjoyed the book, and didn't even feel that it was particularly unrealistic, as other reviewers have charged. I know those kind of people that get into existential discussions with taxi drivers, if not chauffeurs. One of the only aspects that bothered me what the emotional depression of the narrator. While I'm sure it was intentional, it made it hard to sustain interest in him as a character study. I suppose that could have been the point--just another nameless, disenfranchised person passing out of his twenties and distanced from everything of meaning in life. Nonetheless, Murakami and the translator achieved really wonderous feats with their word choices, and have a knack for gestalt description, for crafting line upon line that builds a priceless whole. It's given me courage to attack my long-unread copy of The Wind-up Bird Chronicles.Favorite lines:At the pinnacle of this tower was affixed a decorative lightning rod. A mistake. Lightning was meant to strike the building and burn it down.The sofa was an unappealing orange, the sort of orange you'd get by leaving a choicely sunburnt (sic) weaving out in the rain for a week, then throwing it into the cellar until it mildewed. This was an orange from the early days of Technicolor."Haven't those ears of yours gotten the message yet?" "No message for the time being," she said, eating her simmered fish and miso soup. "That much I know. I only get despairing messages when I'm confused or feeling some mental pinch. But that's not the case now."The children were quiet too. They sat still and stared out the window. Occasionally, someone coughed with a dry rasp that sounded like a mummy tapped on the head with a pair of tongs.