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

  • Game Changer
  • Game Changer

    Since Condon became mayor, Jan Quintrall has been responsible for some of the biggest changes in the city of Spokane — and some of its biggest controversies
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • In Contempt
  • In Contempt

    A Spokane judge rules that the mental health system has willfully failed to follow evaluation deadlines
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Never Again
  • Never Again

    Washington state lawmakers push reforms after last July's murder-suicide; plus, Spokane's police ombudsman is leaving
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Spokane Winter Glow Spectacular

Spokane Winter Glow Spectacular @ Riverfront Park

Through Jan. 1, 2015

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

  • Let Us Breathe

    Spokane joins national protests over the failure to indict white officers for killing black civilians
    • Dec 10, 2014
  • Screw Big Cities

    A mid-sized manifesto
    • Dec 3, 2014
  • More »

© 2014 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation