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A Wild Sheep Chase

A Wild Sheep Chase (羊をめぐる冒険, in Japanese) is a 1982 novel by Haruki Murakami. It's sort of a mystery with magical realism mixed in (the first book I've ever bought with 3D glasses taped inside the front cover). It's told by a lackadaisical, beer-drinking, unambitious narrator, whose name we're not given, I suppose done to make him out to be an everyman of sorts, labelled as definitively mediocre by another character in the story. This guy is coerced into searching for a particular sheep, with a star on its side and of a breed no one can identify—an alien sheep, it would seem, or at the very least extremely foreign. The narrator falls for a girl with majestic ears, and the two take off to Hokkaido in search of his friend "the Rat" and this mysterious sheep. They come across eccentrics in a surreal adventure that wraps up with way more questions than we began with, typical of what I've recently read by Murakami. I sometimes wonder if Murakami has some grand design behind his stories or if he just spews out his imagination for us to wade through. Either way, his stories feel like they're working very well. And there are themes you can get hold of firmly in this book, such as war and its influence on types in Japan, urban vs. rural, ambition vs. apathy. It's funny at times too, especially the first half, whereas the last few chapters become quite surreal as the pace of the narrative considerably slows. All in all, I liked this one for its laid-back storytelling and absurd elements. The narrator is like a Japanese Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski; and both the reader and narrator are left guessing about the significance of the tale as it unfolds.


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