Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by MARTY DEMAREST & r & After Dark


by Haruki Murakami


& lt;span class= "dropcap " & H & lt;/span & aruki Murakami is the world's greatest living novelist. That's my opinion, but I get the impression that other critics think the same thing. The back of his latest novel After Dark uses praises such as "incredible," "genius" and "at the top of his form" to describe the writer. Unfortunately, that will probably lead those same critics to use kind words like "slender" and "evanescent" to describe After Dark. What the book really is, is too short.





Murakami's characters, even in his short stories, are often meticulously described enigmas. His best characters stand out like stones in a river, with the world rippling and eddying around them. By watching the patterns and anomalies, we come to sense the characters' metaphysical definitions.





After Dark is full of Murakami trademark characters -- the strange young girl, the salaryman with a dark side, talkative extra characters who seem oblivious to the author's hushed tone. But they are presented here at such warp speed that they don't get many chances to interact with the nocturnal world Murakami has fashioned around them. The characters spend a great deal of time talking -- the sort of talk that might occur in late-night coffee shops and motel rooms. As a result, instead of seeing Murakami's characters living their strange lives, we hear them talking about their strange lives.





Fortunately, since his book Underground, Murakami has been a master at capturing people's voices as they tell stories. For Underground, Murakami interviewed dozens of individuals who were caught in the gas attacks on the Tokyo subway. Their narratives, each a slight variation of the same event, were beautiful character transcriptions in which each person identified themselves by the way in which they told their story.





In After Dark, this skill is used to allow the characters to emerge in the minimum number of pages. But once those pages are past, there's very little left. The story is a noirish abstraction involving crime, and Murakami's fluctuations between banality and symbolism -- which often makes his novels read like David Lynch films -- is underused. Perhaps After Dark was supposed to be read in one night. It certainly could be. Otherwise, it's not nearly enough Murakami for me.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • OK, Hold Your Nose
  • OK, Hold Your Nose

    Everything you need to know before Election Day
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Base of Support
  • Base of Support

    Polling local leaders and opinion-makers about presidential politics
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • The Messenger
  • The Messenger

    Local leaders weigh in on how Donald Trump's campaign has impacted racism in America
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Inlander Debate Party

Inlander Debate Party @ nYne

Mon., Sept. 26, 5 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Marty Demarest

  • The Cowboy's Cowboy
  • The Cowboy's Cowboy

    A Canadian sings about the life —  not just the lifestyle — of the new West
    • May 15, 2013
  • Completing the Trilogy
  • Completing the Trilogy

    Mass Effect has finally arrived
    • May 23, 2012
  • Minecraft
  • Minecraft

    Adventure and survival too often give way to mindless crafts in this building-block simulator.
    • Feb 8, 2012
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Murrow's Nightmare

    Debate moderators need to be much more than an onstage prop to make our democracy work
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

election 2016


trail mix


Briefs


green zone


marijuana


Readers also liked…

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation