Wednesday, 2 October 2019

My ding-a-ling...

Killing CommendatoreKilling Commendatore by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

‘If my friends wish to pursue their reading enjoyment then I respectfully suggest my friends think very carefully before reading this book,’ said the Commendatore.

‘Think carefully?’ I said.

‘Affirmative,’ he replied.

‘But what kind of book are you?’ I said.

‘I, sir, am a long and extremely boring allegory.’

‘An allegory?’ I said.

‘An allegory,’ said Long Face.

‘Like Alice in Wonderland?’ I said.

‘Like Alice in Wonderland,’ he replied.

‘Or how about Orpheus in the Underworld?’ I added.

This is an odd book in many respects: full of unnecessary, incidental details that seem irrelevant (I heated up some coffee then I drank it. I made a sandwich and I ate it.) The principle seems to be: something happens, it is described in detail. Then someone is told and in almost the same amount of detail. Then the same or a similar thing happens and is described, though this time in slightly less detail and in a slightly different way.

Murakami also seems to take the Faye Weldon line that readers need reminding constantly of the story. We keep going back for a brief re-cap of earlier events, adding a little bit more information each time. All of which is described in often tedious and repetitive detail. Cars are never cars, for instance, even if they’re unimportant. The narrator's car is always a Toyota Corolla station wagon. I don’t know about you but I seldom refer to my own car by the make, type and model each time I talk about it. And by the time we’ve been back to the narrator's post-separation road-trip a few times and returned to his childhood and the death of his sister more than once I was starting to lose interest. And then a mini-me appears, tinkling a small Buddhist bell. Or rather the character in a painting the protagonist (also a painter) finds in the attic comes to life and rings the bell. The bell found on what seems to have been a grave in the garden, and a bell that had been ringing ( from beyond the grave) each evening.

After that it starts to get all Alice in Wonderland on us, with its own version of the rabbit hole which in this book appears in the corner of a room in a nursing home. In between odd flights of surreal fancy there is some sex (prosaically described as in, her vagina closed around my penis') some painting, and some food, specifically noodles, and crackers. In the fridge. Which he ate. Because he was hungry. And then he heard the bell.

The bell was ringing. Ding-a-ling.

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