A Wild Sheep Goose Chase.

Sorry, no pictures for this post. Blogging from my precious eeepc.

One of my best friends lent me a book a while ago. It’s called A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami. He said I’d like it and he wanted me to read it. So I wiki-ed and google-d the book up and it seemed that it’s a MUST-READ and no one had anything bad to say about it. I was all hyped up to read it. Another notch in Kim’s pursuit of culture & class so to speak….

The novel read very easily. Not many rare tongue-tying words which meanings I’d be too lazy to find out. I like the part about the girl with a pair of mysterious sexy ears and I was looking forward to descriptions of the protagonist having some “good time” with her. They came and went with a thud :(

Then on to the main premise of the story. The wild sheep chase. Protagonist met up with mysterious fella from secret organisation (Hrmmm). Asked to find sheep with a star on its ass (Hrmm). Ventured on a journey with said girl with sexy ears on journey to find sheep with a star on its ass. (Oooh more sex?). Not much sex really (sigh). Protagonist moved into a deserted house (oh sex now!). Girl with sexy ears left (damnit no sex). Weird male hobo in sheep costume stalked protagonist (oh THIS is the sex part huh *snigger*). Most scandalous thing that weird male hobo in sheep costume did was drinking a can of beer (wtf!). Male hobo in sheep costume turned out to be protagonist’s long lost friend who is called Rat and is also the sheep with a star on its ass.

So after flipping page after page, filled with anticipation of a chapter that would finally tie everything together ala Tarantino’s flicks….I reached the end of the book.

What the fuck did I just spent 5 hours reading?? I have absolutely no bloody idea -_-.

I tried to find an answer to my conundrum. Among the stuff I’ve discovered is that Haruki Murakami wrote all his books in Japanese and the english versions we’re reading are courtesy of elite translators. Could it be that the whole book is consisted of metaphors that only a native Japanese would understand? Does that mean that everyone who has raved about the book has at one point or another immersed themselves in Japanese culture or literature?

Am I the only person who doesn’t like the book, for when I googled “A wild sheep chase sucks” not many relevant explanations popped up. Or are people too embarrassed to admit that they don’t get the bleeding book due to peer pressure? Heh heh.

Of course, I’m not disputing the fact that I may be just another freaking knob-head. Classless, uncultured organism from Cheras aye!

So really, I appeal to anyone of you who have read the book or a big fan of Murakami please enlighten me in simple straight forward english sans methaphors….what is A Wild Sheep Chase talking about? :(

21 thoughts on “A Wild Sheep Goose Chase.”

  1. you can’t rationalize murakami. there is nothing to “get”, you just enjoy the journey his words bring you.

    (sorry for being so cryptic lah, am a huge murakami fan, and i truly believe what i typed up there, hehe. oh! my fav was a wild sheep chase, least fav is norwegian wood – which is his most ordinary normal book imho)

  2. I’ve only read “The Wind Up Bird Chronicle” so far, and I liked it very much. There’s a lot of beer drinking, pasta munching Japanese people in it. Yeah, agree with nyx up there.. there really isn’t anything to ‘get’. It’s all just strange, mildly violent and dreamy. And I do think Murakami has a fetish with women’s ears.

  3. Phew. So I’m not the only one. I tried reading Kafka On The Shore, and I got all WTFFF somewhere in the middle and I stopped reading -___- Much prefer Paulo Coelho.

  4. lol Japanese culture has little to do with it, as he’s considered to be very Western to Japanese readers.
    Anywat, he’s classified as a SURREALIST. Have a look at some Dali , Miro, Ernst and Magrisse paintings and you’ll understand the story a little better.
    I often wonder if the story is harder to understand as it’s book 3 in a trilogy where Murakami refuses to have the first two books translated into English? Maybe not. But the protagonist and Rat are in the first two books [no, I haven’t read any Murakami yet. Always wanted to read them though.]

    Maybe you should try some Yukio Mishima. He loves to have people die left right and centre in some novels. In fact, I’m sure he’s influenced Tarrantino a little. :-)
    Of course, my Fav is Spring Snow. I only remember one person dying in it. So won’t be Tarrantino like at all. But, is a very well crafted novel. Now you’ve put me in the mood to read it again! lol

  5. the three books are loosely connected, and available in english. its just very rarely available out of japan although ebay can help you procure a copy.

  6. hahaha..he has fetishes with wells, walking through walls, female ears, incest, cats..

    anyway most of his stories usually end in a question mark where it allows u to guess what happenes next by yourself.

    and his books are only nice to read if u enjoy fantasy but it gets repetitive eventually =S

    theres another book where the said sheep man reappears but i cant seem remember which one *O*

  7. totally agree with suertes and nyx. his books don’t have a linear plot and nothing’s tidied up in the end. but i do love his style of writing. would recommend norwegian wood or his short stories if you’re a murakami virgin [help you ease into things :)].

  8. I read my first Murakami some years ago: The Wind-up Bird Chronicles and I loved it. I started to read all (well, almost) his books but hit the wall with this one. Surprisingly, the sequel to this book – Dance Dance Dance did not give me the “WTF” reaction like this book. I read Dance Dance Dance first.

    Perhaps.. these are his tricks up his sleeves. You know.. perhaps, the girl with sexy ears are clouding your mind with the help of the Sheep Man at Dolphin Hotel. :D

  9. with murakami, i think it’s not what the story is about or what the plot achieves, but it is about just immersing urself in his choice of words, how he takes strangeness and extrapolates it, and his limitless creativity and emotional intelligence when writing about the people in his stories. i havent read A Wild Sheep Chase but i think its style cant have deviated much from his other books!

    murakami writes stories that are warped and surreal. he’s one of my fav authors because i’ve not come across any other writer who can explore loneliness and melancholia the way he can. his writing is very penetrative of human nature; even though his characters are eccentric, we always spot a little bit of our secret selves somewhere in them :)

    one of my fav parts in a murakami book is this part in Norwegian Wood, where the protagonist Watanabe is making love to a girl, and when she takes off her shirt and hands it to him, he felt this urge to fold it neatly. then there was another part where when he was having sex with this other girl and both of them were screaming other people’s names. both instances are like these small representations of bigger things that we all face in real life, but written in a way that is artistic yet evokes familiar emotions. haih! try picking up South of the Border, West of the Sun! and also Norwegian Wood. and also Kafka on the Shore. very nice wan :)

  10. haih! reading this post and writing that comment has made me feel like reading another Murakami! but reading his stuff always makes me emo T___T

  11. it’s also my least favorite although i really loved the ‘sequel’ to this book Dance Dance Dance. so you’re not alone.

  12. i dont get the need to read translated works. i think all literary works are best digested in their original languages. “best” being subjective.

    it somehow feels “fake” coz u’d (me anyways) think those choices of words are not really his choice in the first language anyways. and some idioms/sayings are lost in translation

    i hate banana yoshimoto.

  13. Naeboo – How can you hate Banana? It tastes so good! :-)
    [Yes, yes, I know she’s an author. She was on my Birthday list, my brother said the girl at the book store laughed when she heard the authors name.] :-)

  14. i only read After Dark by him..i did not understand the ending but its a great book.i red it like non stop. ;)

  15. sometimes you find a bit of yourself in murakami’s books. my fave remains Kafka on the Shore :)

  16. murakami is great at letting his characters “talk” so sometimes it’s best to just go with flow and try not to rationalise anything. Hafta agree with pinkpau that norwegian wood is a great, soppy read. I also like south of the border (i see a trend on books with love relationship probs here). hehe. his stories can be pretty depressing so they make good reads during stormy nights. wink. don’t emo too long yea.

  17. dabido>> i hate her coz she lied! only advertise what u have! no banana, dont crap! :P

    plus, i think shes boring.

    even plots from christopher pike is better.

  18. :) im a huuuuAGEee Murakami fan. He writes much of his books in a constant state of delusion (sometimes drunk) Not understanding and just letting the book take you where you “let” is half the fun.

    Pinkpau may agree with me on that one :)

  19. Huge fan since ’96. My fav book is dance dance dance and hear the wind sing. Hear the wind sing is his initial attempt about boku and rat whom are enjoying their summer vacation and waiting to take their next step in life. It resonates with me perhaps I was reading it while waiting to go abroad to start my next chapter in life.

    There is nothing to get from his writing other then knowing that he made daily mundane tasks sounded interesting. My fav is where he explains about cooking spaghetti in dance. Irked most about boris the human skinner in wind up bird. The easiest to read is Norwegian wood and the weirdest is end of the world for me.

    I didn’t know there is a trilogy involved as dabido put it. I only know boku and rat was introduced at hear the wind sing, continued at wild sheep chase and finally at dance.

    Forget about the target destination and focus on the scenery along the way. That’s how I enjoy murakami and life. hope it helps.

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