Killing Commendatore
The epic new novel from the internationally acclaimed and best-selling author of 1Q84In Killing Commendatore, a thirty-something portrait painter in Tokyo is abandoned by his wife and finds himself holed up in the mountain home of a famous artist, Tomohiko Amada. When he discovers a previously unseen painting in the attic, he unintentionally opens a circle of mysterious circumstances. To close it, he must complete a journey that involves a mysterious ringing bell, a two-foot-high physical manifestation of an Idea, a dapper businessman who lives across the valley, a precocious thirteen-year-old girl, a Nazi assassination attempt during World War II in Vienna, a pit in the woods behind the artist’s home, and an underworld haunted by Double Metaphors. A tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art—as well as a loving homage to The Great Gatsby—Killing Commendatore is a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers.

Killing Commendatore Details

TitleKilling Commendatore
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 9th, 2018
PublisherKnopf Publishing Group
ISBN-139780525520047
Rating
GenreFiction, Cultural, Japan, Magical Realism, Asian Literature, Japanese Literature

Killing Commendatore Review

  • Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
    January 1, 1970
    I am so unbelievably disappointed with this book. What should I talk about first, the bland characters, the flat plot or the convoluted prose? Either way it stank of mediocrity. This doesn’t feel like a Murakami novel. It doesn’t sound like a Murakami novel and it doesn’t act like one. I went back and read certain passages from After Dark and breathed in (once again) the beautifully rhythmic nature of the prose. It just flows from one sentence to the next, from word to word, forming a story that I am so unbelievably disappointed with this book. What should I talk about first, the bland characters, the flat plot or the convoluted prose? Either way it stank of mediocrity. This doesn’t feel like a Murakami novel. It doesn’t sound like a Murakami novel and it doesn’t act like one. I went back and read certain passages from After Dark and breathed in (once again) the beautifully rhythmic nature of the prose. It just flows from one sentence to the next, from word to word, forming a story that constantly progressed forward. This did not move. The prose was circular and constantly repeated mundane details about the plot that I already knew. I found myself wanting to skip sections that sounded like paragraphs I’d read before. And that’s bad, real bad storytelling. It lacks the precision that makes Murakami’s writing so compelling; it lacks the usual edginess and the spark that keeps the words alive. Murakami novels rely on the uncanny, on coincidence and strange encounters that seem normal but have an undercurrent of anxiety and oddness. Some of that was here in a watered down and convoluted form. The problem is the novel is simply too big for the small amount of story it contained. It has the essence of his tropes, a shadow of them, but the prose is too weak to carry them forward. The protagonist is an artist who has just separated from his wife. He moves to a mountain retreat and fails to paint anything until he finds inspiration in the face of his rich neighbour. He listens to some classical music, digs up a bell and fixates over his dead sister’s breasts. He sleeps with some women in his art class and displays the usual middle-age egotistical personality that I’ve already seen before in Murakami’s fiction. Give me something new! Give me a character that stands out from your others and surprises me with his personality and decisions. I fear the author’s characters have become a little generic.Murakami has found a niche with his writing and he dominates it; he is not like any other author I have read, and his novels are distinctively his. But in recent years I feel he has started to play it safe. His short story collection from last year Men Without Women was very much the same kind of thing, a brief echo of what he can do but nothing more. So this is a very poor book from a great writer and, as ever, it is demonstrative of how less is sometimes much more. And I’m quite sad to write these words. If I’m critical of Murakami, it’s because I know exactly how well he can write. I’ve seen it. I’ve felt it. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage moved me to tears whereas this moved me to boredom. I hope his next book has a little more energy.Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Insta | Academia
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  • Jeffrey Keeten
    January 1, 1970
    ”Our lives really do seem strange and mysterious when you look back on them. Filled with unbelievably bizarre coincidences and unpredictable, zigzagging developments. While they are unfolding, it’s hard to see anything weird about them, no matter how closely you pay attention to your surroundings. In the midst of the everyday, these things may strike you as simply ordinary things, a matter of course. They might not be logical, but time has to pass before you can see if something is logical.” Ou ”Our lives really do seem strange and mysterious when you look back on them. Filled with unbelievably bizarre coincidences and unpredictable, zigzagging developments. While they are unfolding, it’s hard to see anything weird about them, no matter how closely you pay attention to your surroundings. In the midst of the everyday, these things may strike you as simply ordinary things, a matter of course. They might not be logical, but time has to pass before you can see if something is logical.” Our Narrator for this tale, unnamed, is a gifted portrait painter. He can capture the true inner nature of a subject and is astute enough to understand that people want to see what is best about them revealed. For most of us, who we are goes well beyond what we look like on the surface, and this artist is an expert at capturing those hidden layers in our surface reality. This life is soon to be a part of his past. We meet the Narrator at the point that his wife Yuzu has just informed him that she wants a divorce. She doesn’t want to talk about it. She doesn’t want to explain herself. She just wants him to accept what she wants. After six years of marriage, I think anyone who wants to dissolve the union probably owes the other person an explanation. “It’s not you; it’s me” kind of thing at the very least. Our Narrator is puzzled but accepts the situation, packs up his artist’s materials, and goes on a walkabout, or to be more precise a driveabout. This is a theme in many Haruki Murakami books, the grand quest. The people he meets and the situations he encounters in this brief journey do have a lasting impact on his life, on his art, and the future plot of this novel. He ends up in a mountain retreat, staying in the house of the respected artist Tomohiko Amada. He is alone up there but finds that he is perfectly suited to a life without people. He can focus on his art and feels inspired to be working in the studio of such a celebrated artist. He is done with portrait work and wants to finally explore art without restrictions. He has created a perfect storm of creativity, and he feels reinvigorated about painting. The question is, how long can the world be held at bay? The house is like many houses of old people, filled with things from a certain era. Records instead of CDs, for example. Murakami mentions the pure pleasure there is in turning a record over, to listening to songs in order because records used to be carefully arranged to lead a listener in a direction to achieve greater understanding, as the songs built beautifully upon one another. Now, people buy the single they hear on the radio and never listen to the rest of the album. It is a real bastardization of the craft of music. It is consuming without finding the soul behind the music. Murakami also takes the opportunity to talk about books as well. ”All the books on Mr. Amada’s bookshelf were old, among them a few unusual novels that would be hard to get hold of these days. Works that in the past had been pretty popular but had been forgotten, read by no one. I enjoyed reading this kind of out-of-date novel. Doing so let me share--with this old man I’d never met--the feeling of being left behind by time.”Readers who have followed my reviews for a long time (I do appreciate your loyalty and your input into what I read) will know, without me saying this, the almost pathological curiosity I have about reading what we can term “lost books.” Books that may have even had a large audience at one time but now are not read at all, or even more enticing, those books that never did find an audience but are actually minor masterpieces. When I dive into these books, I feel like I’m an archaeologist discovering buried treasure that deserves to see the light of day again. How about those fat WW2 books from the 1950s? Many of them have merit and should continue to find new audiences. How about a book like Mortal Leap by MacDonald Harris? This book has been out of print for decades, but it is a seriously entertaining and deep novel that has been...lost. So for me having an opportunity to explore a personal library that is suspended in time, filled with books from the 1930s, 1950s, or even 1980s, would be as conducive to raising my pulse rate as having Salma Hayek nibble on my neck. The other part of this quote that really resonates with me is “being left behind by time.” Several of the characters in this novel, even the young girl Mariye Akikawa, who becomes so intricate to the plot, struggle with accepting the importance of gadgets, like cell phones. The pressure for each and every person on the planet to own and pay those alarming, high fees for service is frankly too overwhelming. To not own a cell phone these days is almost like not being a human being at all. I will admit I’ve always been fascinating by new breakthroughs in technology. I owned a computer when they were really too expensive to own personally. I watched with fascination as the internet came into being, chunk...chunk...chunk a few loaded pixels at a time. I’ve always loved science, even when I haven’t fully understood it. However, now technology seems to be intent on not freeing me, but confining me. It owns me rather than being a tool for my own edification. I hear more and more people say to me, why do they have to know anything if they can just google it? There are so many things wrong with that statement that I could write a whole dissertation on what the true meaning of that statement means to the future, but I’m going to keep to one part of it. How will people know what to google if they don’t have enough reference points already in their mind to start with? I’m starting to believe that I am a man on the verge of being left behind, and it doesn’t scare me one bit. I may move in with the artist in his time stamped house, and while he paints, I’ll read and write. We will have tea at three with crumpets. The plot becomes more and more convoluted as the world does start to encroach upon the artist. When I say world, I may not mean this world. A ringing bell in the middle of the night from underground sets off a series of events that revolve around a painting called Killing Commendatore by Amada that is carefully wrapped up and stored in the attic. The subject of the painting is a scene from the opera Don Giovanni. The last time I was in Prague, they were showing Don Giovanni in the theater it debuted in for the first time since the original showing. Needless to say, I scored tickets, and the experience was as magical as I could hope for. When you read and travel, it is amazing the cool associations a person can develop that adds enjoyment to future reading and traveling experiences. His wealthy neighbor, Wataru Menshiki, offers him an outrageous amount of money to paint his portrait. He seems intent on becoming good friends, as well. Unfortunately, through trial and error, I have discovered that people expressing that much interest in me usually means they want something from me. I’d like to think that I’m infinitely fascinating, and that is enough reason for people to want to spend time with me, but I’ve been disabused of that idea. The artist is of the same mind as me and looks with suspicion upon this offer of friendship. What is Menshiki’s true motivation? There are many philosophical concerns, psychological growth, supernatural occurrences, including astral projection sex, and some wonderful descriptions of the artistic process all within the confines of this novel. Most readers should find parts, or maybe even all of these elements, as aspects that they can identify with. This book reminds me somewhat of Murakami’s masterpiece Kafka on the Shore, but it lacks that something something that would have had me genuflecting to the deftness and creativity of his genius. Normally, I rate books against other books in their genre, but with Murakami, like say Charles Dickens, I can only rate him against his own body of work. A contemplative book that tries to slow the world down and remind us that fast is not always better and new is not always an improvement. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visithttp://www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
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  • Shirley Revill
    January 1, 1970
    Thoughts while reading.Your wife she leftI did tooI came back to finish youPaintings on wallsMen two foot highMy brains been pulpedI give a cryI've not been drinkingThat wouldn't doBut I might before I finish you.Shirley.Review to follow when I finish the story.Update.If I never achieve anything else in my life I achieved finishing this book. In fact I got to the end of the audiobook some days ago and have since been wondering what to say. I have looked at many five star reviews regarding this s Thoughts while reading.Your wife she leftI did tooI came back to finish youPaintings on wallsMen two foot highMy brains been pulpedI give a cryI've not been drinkingThat wouldn't doBut I might before I finish you.Shirley.Review to follow when I finish the story.Update.If I never achieve anything else in my life I achieved finishing this book. In fact I got to the end of the audiobook some days ago and have since been wondering what to say. I have looked at many five star reviews regarding this story but unfortunately it was not for me. It's far too long and needs to lose at least 200 pages, maybe more. The storyline was very,very slow and I still don't fully understand what I have been listening too.On a plus note many people have given this book five stars and I am definitely in the minority.It was extremely well written even though it was rather slow. The narrator had a wonderful voice that kept me listening. So apologies to all the fans of this book for not enjoying this book as much as everyone else. It would be a very sad world if we where all the same. Awarding three stars and I sincerely wish it could have been more.
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  • Spencer Orey
    January 1, 1970
    I feel pretty conflicted about this one. On the one hand, I enjoyed reading it until the final 100 pages or so turned into a slog. On the other, it's repetitive and minimalistic in a way that felt generationally out of touch. The unnamed main character is in one of these classic Murakami in-between periods in his life, where everything has fallen apart but he's somehow fairly financially comfortable and has time to re-evaluate things. He gets involved with a questionably shady guy, and they star I feel pretty conflicted about this one. On the one hand, I enjoyed reading it until the final 100 pages or so turned into a slog. On the other, it's repetitive and minimalistic in a way that felt generationally out of touch. The unnamed main character is in one of these classic Murakami in-between periods in his life, where everything has fallen apart but he's somehow fairly financially comfortable and has time to re-evaluate things. He gets involved with a questionably shady guy, and they start investigating some slowly unfolding mysteries.That should be great, but the edgy parts simply don't work. In particular, the main character has a lot of deeply uncomfortable conversations with a teenage girl about her breasts, conversations which continue on and off for about 400 pages. She's such a poorly imagined character that it seems like it's all she thinks about. That's never been ok in these books and it's not ok now.I do appreciate the writing puzzle here. Murakami took five or six moving pieces and recombined them over in over, drawing out subtle progress. It was a mixed result. Some of the pieces are fantastic images (a mysterious hole in the ground, possibly connected to ancient monks who chose to be buried alive in search of enlightenment). Similarly, sometimes the combinations and slow developments were compelling, and the muted writing style came through strongly there. All that made a good point that good writing isn't necessarily about adding more and more but can instead be more about how the pieces fit. But at other times, the moving pieces just kind of fizzle. There are the usual consumerism turned weird elements of mystery that Murakami is known for, but unlike in The Wind-up Bird Chronicle or Kafka on the Shore, this time they don't add up to anything at all. That's a theme in general: the ending is, in particular, a real dud, so much so that it erases most of the inner progress that the narrator made.But like I said, despite everything, I really I looked forward to reading this book every night. So I dunno.One thing I did appreciate was the lighter tone than the past few Murakami novels. The opening chapter makes it clear that everything will end up kind of ok in the end, and as a result everything suspenseful is instead kind of chill? I could see that being awful actually for some readers, since it kills all of the tension. But I liked being along for a ride that you know will turn out fine. It's this odd period in the guy's life and he wants to tell you about it. It's just too bad that the journey isn't a little more interesting?On the other hand, there was one especially clueless moment about coffee that stuck with me. The main character, in typical Murakami fashion, is eating nonstop spaghetti and drinking nonstop coffee (too real). But at one point, he goes off about how pretentious it is that people drink fair trade coffee in paper cups from Starbucks. There must be a cultural thing I'm missing, but uh, hi I live in Denmark where people obsess over specialty coffee, which is the actual fancy pretentious stuff. Fair trade is a mostly empty qualifier about how the coffee beans were bought, not anything to do with the coffee itself. Maybe 15 years ago, you could argue that Starbucks was pretentious, but that's just not how things are these days.The painting elements were compelling, so that's something. There's almost a deep point about the life of ideas and how they travel to people and places, moving outside of time. I was into that! And there's some mostly humanizing treatment of trauma from World War 2 that felt important.All in all, this book needed a serious edit. It's at least 200 pages too long, mostly because it's repetitive. But I guess I still recommend it? There's still a lot there for a Murakami fan. But if you haven't read Kafka on the Shore, go read that instead.
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  • Adam Dalva
    January 1, 1970
    More on this when it comes out! I found it to be a return to form, mingling the realism of Norwegian Wood with the surrealistic approach of Wind-Up Bird. Fast read for such a long book, and the writing about painting is fascinating. The biggest flaw is in the depiction of a 13-year-old girl, whose constant fixation on her chest is a distracting running joke that doesn't do anything for the plot.
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  • Seemita
    January 1, 1970
    If I close my eyes tight, what shall I see? If I shut out all the noises I can sense, what shall I hear? If I shun the world completely, what shall I feel? A dark nothingness? Or a blinding muddle of overlapping images? Heartbeats of silence, may be? Or forewarnings of myriad nature? Forgotten memories, perhaps? Or Unforeseen happenstances?The options are many but the answers, scarce. And a protagonist embroiled in a similar dilemma propels this part real, part supernatural tale of phantasmagori If I close my eyes tight, what shall I see? If I shut out all the noises I can sense, what shall I hear? If I shun the world completely, what shall I feel? A dark nothingness? Or a blinding muddle of overlapping images? Heartbeats of silence, may be? Or forewarnings of myriad nature? Forgotten memories, perhaps? Or Unforeseen happenstances?The options are many but the answers, scarce. And a protagonist embroiled in a similar dilemma propels this part real, part supernatural tale of phantasmagorical dimensions. Murakami’s 36-years old hero bears all the usual hallmarks of his creator’s heroes – a loser in love, an average worker, a music aficionado, an explorer of the unconventional, a commoner, a misfit, an outcast. Adding to this rather familiar image is the angle of art; our hero is a portrait painter and is at a stage of life where he is striving to graduate to a more experimental and freer form of it even though his current credentials are praiseworthy. But left to his own devices in an isolated mountain house in remote Japan, when he accidentally uncovers a hidden painting in the attic, painted by his landlord (the great artist Tomohiko Amada), he unknowingly sets in motion a chain of events which he must counter first hand and bring to a logical conclusion. The painting, of course, is the eponymous ‘Killing Commendatore’. In his signature style, Murakami’s flight from the real to the surreal and back, and forth, and back left me enthralled. From the bell whose eerie jingling punctured the night stillness for exactly 45 minutes to the crystallization of an idea into a walking-talking person, from the precocious girl who would match the hero toe-to-toe in comprehending the hidden layers of a vocal painting to the cryptic idiosyncrasies of his impeccably dressed but asocial neighbour, from the disappearance of things from the real world to their timely apparitions in the surreal world, the story turned into an exhilarating ride where beliefs were as quickly suspended as their twins were embraced. But even as he held me captive in this roller coaster wheel of happenstances, he consciously waved cards on family, friendship, art, success, loneliness, values and life, begging me to pay attention to their subtle but all-encompassing impact. Reading Murakami is never a straight-forward process and as a fan, I roll in glee at the opportunity of getting enmeshed in his web. However, since his books, at the core level, are mostly about human frailties and the attempts to comprehend them, they leave me in a fertile place where the guiding light reveals as much as it hides. And these open ends make for a fascinating tête-à-tête with self. ‘Killing Commendatore’ didn’t disappoint at all in this regard. And if the resemblance to a certain Scott Fitzgerald novel planted some seeds of anticipation in me early on, they were dismissed before long. And while it came tantalizingly close to The Wind-up Bird Chronicle in its approach and length, the master turned his latest trick into a clear winner by infusing the very best of his diverse characters. The delicious bites on the process of creating art, the psychological undercurrents of a modern-day teen, the pernicious scars of war and their refusal to fade, they all added to the hypnotic relevance of this tome, and which I am glad I read. Because every creation is a repayment to the loan of time and when made the right way, strengthens our worthiness in the world we live in and shall eventually leave behind.
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  • Meike
    January 1, 1970
    In Germany, Murakami's latest tome was published in two parts, the first one entitled: "Killing Commendatore 1: An Idea Appears" - and you know why? Because one of the characters in this book is an idea. Yes. An idea. Welcome to the world of Murakami. Our main protagonist is a 36-year-old painter. He (who remains unnamed) has just been left by his wife and retreats into a solitary house in the Japanese mountains to rethink his life. While trying to figure out what to do next, he is confronted wi In Germany, Murakami's latest tome was published in two parts, the first one entitled: "Killing Commendatore 1: An Idea Appears" - and you know why? Because one of the characters in this book is an idea. Yes. An idea. Welcome to the world of Murakami. Our main protagonist is a 36-year-old painter. He (who remains unnamed) has just been left by his wife and retreats into a solitary house in the Japanese mountains to rethink his life. While trying to figure out what to do next, he is confronted with the destinies of two other men who, at the crossroads of their lives, have made decisions that went on to haunt them. For once, there is the world-famous painter Amada who used to live in the lonely house and who hid the mysterious painting "Killing Commendatore" in the attic. Then, there's the protagonist's mysterious neighbour from the other side of the valley who seems to be impossible to paint. What secrets do these men and their paintings hide and reveal?While the story starts out in a realistic manner, it turns more and more surreal, and there are scenes that read like hallucinations (in fact, the protagonists wonder whether all of this is actually happening). I really enjoyed how Murakami connects all the threads and, by that, the lives of the three men. While the famous painter is not there in person, only through his house and what it contains (he suffers from dementia and lives in a retirement home), the narrator and the neighbour develop a peculiar friendship. Through art and life, more and more layers of all three men are laid bare - and they reflect each other, but these mirror images are created with funhouse mirrors, which keeps the reader guessing about the differences and similarities between their experiences. When Marie, who might be Menshiki's daughter, suddenly vanishes, the narrator sets out to find her - with the help of dying Amada and the idea. On this mission, Amada's painting "Killing Commendatore" proves to be the key not only to the old painter's hidden past in Vienna 1938, but also to finding the young girl and to deepening the narrator's understanding of the nature of art. And art itself plays a major role in the book: Abstract vs. concrete painting, Western vs. Japanese styles, the question whether art can capture the essense of a person, the role of the artist in society etc. - I love that, it is like a more benign version of "The Map and the Territory" feat. "The Picture of Dorian Gray". Especially in the second half, it becomes clear that Murakami intended his book to be a meditation on art - we shape our reality by how we connect the dots, and we can create reality by believing in our ideas. Murakami makes this point with his typical brand of magical realism, and he always leaves room for interpretation regarding what is really going on - the reader has the space to follow his own ideas inside the text. Just like the painting "Killing Commendatore" holds a different meaning depending on who is looking at it, the idea (as a character in the book) also takes on different forms - and in this volume gets help from a metaphor (yes, also as a character in the book)."Killing Commendatore" is clearly one of those books that deserve several readings, because there is so much open space that the reader can contemplate - that's one of the qualities I love about Murakami, he just doesn't explain himself in his texts and trusts his readers to go along with him. You need to find your own meaning and trust your own ideas, because "(t)he Commendatore does really exist. (...) You should believe that."
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    4.75/5stars*DISCLAIMER: I was sent a free finished copy of this book by the wonderful people at knopf publishing but they did not ask for a review in any format, I'm just obsessed with Murakami and this was my most anticipating book of the last like 3 years sooooooHERE IS MY VIDEO REVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnXa0...- Probably one of Murakami's best CRAFTED books - the writing was absolutely wonderful and there were so many lines I want printed on a frame and hung in my home, a well 4.75/5stars*DISCLAIMER: I was sent a free finished copy of this book by the wonderful people at knopf publishing but they did not ask for a review in any format, I'm just obsessed with Murakami and this was my most anticipating book of the last like 3 years sooooooHERE IS MY VIDEO REVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnXa0...- Probably one of Murakami's best CRAFTED books - the writing was absolutely wonderful and there were so many lines I want printed on a frame and hung in my home, a well as the plot and how intricate and complex the interweaving narratives are was amazing.Examples of beautiful quotes:* "Look deep enough into any person and you will find something shining within. My job was to uncover this and, if the surface is fogged up, polish it with a cloth to make it shine again. Otherwise the darker side would naturally reveal itself in the portrait." (page 15)* "It's like I'd been born with a blind spot, and was always missing something. And what I missed was always the most important thing of all." (page 31)* "When you're locked up alone in a cramped dark place, the most frightening thing isn't death. The most terrifying thought is that I might have to live here forever... in order to survive, a person has to overcome that fear. Which means conquering yourself." (page 271)* "Saturday was another fine clear day. No wind to speak of, and the fall colors in the valley sparkling in the sunlight. Small white-breasted birds hopped from one branch to the next, deftly pecking the red berries. I sat on the terrace, soaking it all in. Nature grants its beauty to us all, drawing no line between rich and poor." (page 341)* "Gradually I began to feel a stranger to myself as well. I placed my hands on the table and studied them for a while. These were my hands no doubt... but this morning, for some reason, they didn't look like my hands at all." (page 455)* "This is your coffin. You cannot move forward. You cannot move backward. You will lie buried here forever. Forsaken by humanity in this dark and narrow tomb... soon it would cover me, as I lay there in the impenetrable dark, unable to move. I would no longer be the person I was." (page 579)* "It sounded as if someone had grabbed hold of a corner of the world and was trying to peel back its skin" (page 587)* "In this real world of ours, after all, nothing remains the same forever." (page 669)* "This is my life, sure, but in the end almost all that happens in it may be decided arbitrarily, quite apart from me. In other words, although I may presume I have free will, in fact I may not be making any of the major decisions that affect me." (page 671)- That being said, I do think this book lost the classic Murakami dream-like feel many of his similar novels have, which isn't necessarily a BAD thing but probably why it wasn't a full 5 stars for me because I enjoy that "not really know whats going on" feeling I got from 1Q84 and Wind Up Bird Chronicle. I found this was probably the best wrapped up of his stories too, though i had SOME questions they aren't ripping me apart like 1Q84 was at the end loll- THAT being said,t his book was no less WEIRD than Murakami's previous novels. This had a LOT of strange things happening right from the first page and had me questioning Murakami's sanity at parts and wanting to crack open his skull and check around inside his brain to figure out where the hell he gets his ideas from- This was QUINTESSENTIAL Murakami - there is a joke in the Murakami circle about the "murakami bingo board" and I think this book would satisfy nearly the entire board. Murakami is becoming self aware I swear, cause this had every Murakami trope I could imagine lol, some examples but definitely not an extensive list made from said Bingo Board:*mysterious woman*unexpected phone call *Running (through the woods)*Precocious Teenager*Cats (owls???)*Secret passageway*Cooking (fuckin duh gotta get that spaghetti yo)*Dried up well????*Old Jazz Records REPLACED BY Old Opera Records*Unusual Name*Something vanishing*Faceless villain*Feeling f being followed*Historical Flashback*Weird sex*Moons- The biggest thing that set this apart from other Murakami was the narrator - while he remained nameless in typical murakami fashion, he was different from many of his other narrators. It was a breath of fresh air, kind of how I felt when I first read about Hajime in South of the Boarder. While this narrator remained mid-thirties and divorced with a feeling of uselessness and nowhere to go like normal, this time he was a PAINTER with nowhere to go! WOAHH MURAKAMI CHANGING IT UP YO! but no, for real, it actually made a difference! This narrator felt like he had much more passionate and therefore felt a bit more real. He also just simply seemed smarter than say Toru Okada, and also a little self-aware? He actually questioned the strange things that were happening to him and acknowledged how weird they truly were. - Speaking of being a painter, the painting parts of this book truly made this a unique experience of reading (it reminded me a bit of "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" which I read earlier this year which was also about painting). While I'm not the biggest fan of reading about music and other arts like that, weirdly, I enjoy reading about painting and painters? I also think it made Murakami's writing really shine with his descriptions of the paintings, and its where the dream-like feelings were able to come out a bit in this book- I really enjoyed the character of Menshiki I found him to be absolutely fascinating- I DIDN'T particularly enjoy the character of Mariye, I found her to be a carbon copy of May from WUBC or the female in Dance Dance Dance, which I guess I'm just getting a bit bored of 13 year old girls talking about their boobs to 30 year old men they don't know, idk yo- Nameless Narrator's girlfriend was the true MVP character though lets get real, she had the most brains and was weirdly SO helpful. Some of the only questions I had left were about her and her daughters- One part I suppose I didn't understand in this book was a scene toward the end of the book. (view spoiler)[ I didn't understand why Mariye recounting her time she was in Menshiki's house hiding had to be SO LONG. it was literally 40 pages of this book and yes I understand we found out some very important stuff about Menshiki's character and life but also DID IT REALLY NEED TO BE THAT LONG? DID I MISS SOMETHING MORE IMPORTANT??? (hide spoiler)]- I weirdly think this would be a good place to start with Murakami??? even though its his newest, its weird enough to be like "wow this is the weird shit that people talk about with Murakami" but also doesn't leave a TON of questions and can be easily understoodOverall I REALLY enjoyed this, but it was just missing SOMETHING (possibly the dream-like feeling? possibly maybe I missed the feeling of having dozens of questions at the end? possibly something else?) that made me not give it a full 5 stars. But 4.75 is basically the same, yo, and this will be on my favorite books of the end of the year - BELIEVE IT.
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  • J.L. Sutton
    January 1, 1970
    Finished Haruki Murakami's Killing Commendatore a few weeks ago and I'm still not sure what to think about it. On the one hand, I like the writing as well as the cultural references which Murakami weaves into the story (especially the complex set of meanings contained in the painting found by the novel's protagonist). One of the things I appreciate about Murakami's novels is how he creates a weird, nearly surreal alternate world which exists alongside our own. It took a lot of time to get to the Finished Haruki Murakami's Killing Commendatore a few weeks ago and I'm still not sure what to think about it. On the one hand, I like the writing as well as the cultural references which Murakami weaves into the story (especially the complex set of meanings contained in the painting found by the novel's protagonist). One of the things I appreciate about Murakami's novels is how he creates a weird, nearly surreal alternate world which exists alongside our own. It took a lot of time to get to the weird (yes I was waiting for it) in this novel and when it came it wasn't as satisfying as I had hoped. So this is a good novel, but, for me, it doesn't match up to 1Q84, The Wind Up Bird Chronicle or Kafka on the Shore. 3.5 stars.
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  • Andrew Smith
    January 1, 1970
    The unnamed narrator of this story is a portrait painter. He's good at what he does, always capable of capturing something of essence of the person he is painting and technically capable of producing near photographic results, should he so desire. He is reflecting back on a period in his life which followed the surprising news, to him, that his wife had taken a lover and that their marriage was now over. In typical Murakami style this news was received with stoicism and pragmatism – the painter The unnamed narrator of this story is a portrait painter. He's good at what he does, always capable of capturing something of essence of the person he is painting and technically capable of producing near photographic results, should he so desire. He is reflecting back on a period in his life which followed the surprising news, to him, that his wife had taken a lover and that their marriage was now over. In typical Murakami style this news was received with stoicism and pragmatism – the painter packed a few things and moved out the same day. From here we track his journey around his native Japan in a beat-up car. Very few secondary players are introduced at this point but one man who seems, at first, to be playing a cameo role is to have an ongoing presence in this tale. Eventually the car packs up and our lead man manages to rent a house for a period from an old friend. The house is situated in a remote spot in the hills and was previously the residence of a famous painter, Tomohiko Amada.Having decided to forgo further portrait painting to focus on discovering a style of his own the painter is happy to discover the studio previously used by Amada and not only that - there is also, wrapped up and tucked away, what seems to be a hitherto unknown masterpiece entitled Killing Commendatore. It depicts a violent scene in which the Commendatore (knight of an Italian order of chivalry, in case you're wondering) is being slain by a sword wielding killer, the scene being viewed by a small cast of onlookers.To this point the story had maintained a fairly straightforward narrative, but this is Murakami so you learn to expect the unexpected. And the unexpected duly arrives. I’ll not go into too much detail from this point as I think It’d spoil the fun for future readers but I will provide a flavour of what follows. There is a ringing bell that sounds hauntingly in the night, an other-worldly descent into a dry stone pit (very much in the mould of the well featured in The Wind-up Bird Chronicle), a character that might just be an ‘idea’ and another posing as a ‘metaphor’. Yes, it’s somewhat tricky to rationalise these elements but I reckon it’ll make more sense (though maybe not perfect sense) should you choose to take this book on yourself. Many of the author’s normal ingredients are here – whiskey, cats, music, food preparation – and, as is often his way, the absurd co-exists reasonably comfortably with the mundane in these pages. If you’ve read Murakami before, you’ll know what I mean. And you might take some comfort in the knowledge that there is a determinable story of discovery for the painter that flows through this book.If you’ve enjoyed Murakami’s chunkier novels, such as 1Q84, the aforementioned Wind-up Bird Chronicle and Kafka on the Shore then I believe you’ll like this one too. I certainly did, though maybe not quite as much as the three I’ve just listed. The issue for me being that there are sections in his very best works that just grab me and really scream what a brilliant writer he can be - and I just didn't get that feeling here. That said, its an atmospheric and unusual tale and I did enjoy spending time with it.
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  • Paul Fulcher
    January 1, 1970
    “Cannot you just let the painting speak for itself?” the Commendatore said softly. “if the painting wants to say something, then best to let it speak. Let metaphors by metaphors, a code a code, a sieve a sieve.” Killing Commendatore has beem translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen from perennial Nobel favourite (and self-withdrawn shortlistee from the Alternative Nobel) Murakami Haruki's Japanese original, and marks a return to the first person narrators that he moved away from during Kafka “Cannot you just let the painting speak for itself?” the Commendatore said softly. “if the painting wants to say something, then best to let it speak. Let metaphors by metaphors, a code a code, a sieve a sieve.” Killing Commendatore has beem translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen from perennial Nobel favourite (and self-withdrawn shortlistee from the Alternative Nobel) Murakami Haruki's Japanese original, and marks a return to the first person narrators that he moved away from during Kafka and the Shore and dropped completely in the 1Q84 trilogy and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, although interestingly the original uses the more formal first person pronoun "watashi" (which is also typically feminine when used informally) in place of his traditional, and very male, "boku" narrator.But in many other respects we are on familiar ground with Murakami's signature images reappearing in abundance. In my review of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...) I mentioned only the disappointing absence of sheep spoiling the full house on my Murakami bingo card. And I subsequently discovered that Steve Snider in the New York Times had actually produced a bingo card: .Snider's card isn’t perfect: one box is bizarrely US centric – Chip Kidd’s covers are impressive (http://www.vulture.com/2018/09/haruki...) but only used in the small minority of editions published in the US, not even the UK versions, let alone the UK ones, the many other international translations, and most importantly not the Japanese original editions. The cats are a little overdone (three squares?). And there are several missing candidates for the 'free square' - whisky (Johnny Walker even appeared as a character in one novel), signature classical music, wearing chinos, dream sequences and sheep(men) for example.But Murakami is well aware of these recurring images, explaining them as recurrent themes from his subconscious, and one suspects he knew what he was doing when, after opening the cover of the English edition - Chip Kidd (✔) in the US but a rather more striking one by Suzanne Dean in the UK - the very first line of Killing Commendatore reads: Today when I woke from a nap the faceless man was there before me. (✔) before two pages later the same figure mysteriously vanishes (✔).Our unnamed male narrator is (or rather was in the later part of the first decade of the 21st Century, when the events he was narrating took place) a mid 30s professional portrait painter. Stricken with urban ennui (✔) after his wife of six years abruptly announces the end of their marriage, he leaves Tokyo and travels aimlessly through Japan, before his old friend, one with a fondness for whisky, offers him the temporary use of his father's mountainside house is Odawara, a house once known for its cats (✔) who one day vanished (✔).The friend's father is Tomohiko Amada a famous painter, now in a hospice suffering from dementia and nearing his life's end. From historical flashbacks (✔) we learn that the pivotal event in the painter's life came in the late 1930s in post-Anschluss Austria where he was studying painting. There he learned of the suicide of his brother, racked with guilt about his part in the Rape of Nanking, and also gets caught up in an unsuccessful anti-Nazi assassination plant, one that leads to the execution of his girlfriend and his own expulsion back to Japan, his life saved only by the friendly relations between the Japanese and German regimes. Back in Japan he switched completely from European style to traditional Japanese painting.Our narrator settles down to a solo-life in the house, listening to records - although mostly the classical LPs left by Tomohiko Amada rather than his own preferred old jazz records (✔), preparing himself simple but delicious meals (✔), teaching painting to local housewifes (two of whom he sleeps with) and to schoolchildren, while he abandons his conventional portraits and seeks new artistic inspiration.While exploring the house our narrator uncovers a previously unknown painting by Tomohiko Amada, entitled Killing Commendatore, one that ostensibly depicts this scene from Mozart's opera Don Giovanni. The picture shows Commendatore being stabbed in the heart by Don Giovanni, as Donna Anna and Leporello look on in horror. But there is a mysterious and incongruous fifth figure observing the scene and the characters are in period dress not from the time of Don Giovanni but rather from the Asuka Era (AD 538–710) in Japan. And our narrator also increasingly suspects makes some hidden reference to what befell the artist in late 1930s Vienna. The discovery and unveiling of the painting is what then tips the narrator's life, and the novel, into the realm of the weird.In the mountain valley he makes the acquaintance of the unusually named (✔) Wataru Menshiki, a character Murakami has written in homage to the eponymous Gatsby from Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, and when in the middle of the night they hear the sound of a bell it leads them to uncover a mysterious pit, albeit one that they initially suspect to be a dried-up well (✔). The pit itself is empty but the story has deliberate echoes - acknowledged both by Murakami and by the characters in the novel of one of the stories in the late Edo-period collection “Tales of Spring Rain,” by Akinari Ueda. There is also a precocious teen (✔), with delicately shaped ears (✔) who makes clandestine visits to the narrator through a secret passageway (✔).The plot, which is a real page-turner, often advanced by unexpected phone calls (✔), and unusually well controlled for a Murakami novel, concerns the connections between these different characters. But of course there is room for plenty of weird sex (✔), some in dreams or sequences which feel like dreams to those involved, including one with a mysterious woman (✔). And as the story progresses, the various characters in the Killing Commendatore start to appear to the narrator, albeit not as people but rather visual manifestations of ideas and metaphors with supernatural powers (✔). And the level of weird (a word often used by the narrator himself) as well as the tension are cranked up as the novel nears its end with a visit to a parallel world (✔) where, amongst other adventures, he feels himself being followed (✔).From my bingo card I was left only with a disappointing lack of talking with the cats (X) (they vanished before the narrator had a chance to speak to them) and the mostly rural setting took away the scenes of Tokyo at night (X) and leads to the characters mostly driving rather than using train stations (X - although see later ✔). And despite the sense of menace at different points, I don't recall any of the characters being forced to run, or indeed running for a hobby (X).But all of this shouldn't detract from the fact that this is an excellent novel. I would say a return to form except he's never really lost it.The most striking part to me was the duality between the different characters. To say too much would be going into the plot in too much detail, but one moving part is how the narrator seeks in others, particularly the precocious teenage girl, what he lost when his sister died in her early teens of a congenital heart defect (her fatal collapse as Gumble's Yard pointed out in the comments to my review occuring at a train station so a ✔ for that one after all). In one memorable scene he remembers when they explore a wind cave near Mount Fuji, and his sister disappeared into a tiny side passage. When she eventually emerges - after what seems to him like an eternity:She grabbed my hand tightly. And, in an excited voice, she said, “I managed to squeeze through the narrow part, and then, deeper in, it suddenly got lower, and down from there it was like a small room. A round room, like a ball. The ceiling was round, the walls were round, and the floor, too. And it was so, so silent there, like you could search the whole world and never find any place that silent. Like I was at the bottom of an ocean, in a crater that went even deeper. I turned off the flashlight and it was pitch dark, but I didn’t feel scared or lonely. That room was a special place that only I’m allowed into. A room just for me. No one else can get there. You can’t go in, either.”“’Cause I’m too big.”My little sister bobbed her head. “Right. You’ve gotten too big to get in. And what’s really amazing about that place is that it’s darker than anything could ever be. So dark that when you turn off the flashlight it feels like you can grab the darkness with your hands. Like your body is gradually coming apart and disappearing. But since it’s dark you can’t see it happen. You don’t know if you still have a body or not. But even if, say, my body completely disappeared, I’d still be there. Like the Cheshire Cat’s grin staying on after he vanished. Pretty weird, huh? But when I was there I didn’t think it was weird at all. I wanted to stay there forever, but I thought you’d be worried, so I came out.”“Let’s get out of here,” I said. She was so worked up it seemed as if she were going to go on talking forever, and I had to put a stop to that. “I can’t breathe well in here.”“Are you O.K.?” my sister asked, concerned.“I’m O.K. I just want to go outside.”Holding hands, we headed for the exit.“Do you know?” my sister said in a small voice as we walked, so no one else would hear (though there wasn’t anyone else around). “Alice really existed. It wasn’t made up. It was real. The March Hare, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the Playing Card soldiers—they all really exist.”Recommended.A quick comment on the translation. The use of two translators could have led to discrepancies in the language, but if there are joins I didn't spot them (albeit I wasn't actively seeking them). Of slightly more concern, the English language edition seems notably shorter than that in other languages, which makes one wonder if cuts have been made as was infamously the case with The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (see https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/... and https://www.uog.edu/_resources/files/...). One hopes not - the much longer 1Q84 was unabridged - but the page count discrepancy is concerning.
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  • Trudie
    January 1, 1970
    * 1.5 * One couldn't escape death, but it should come later - she wanted to know what it felt like to have full breasts and a woman's nipples at least once before she died. It would really suck if hornets killed her before she had that chance. Indeed. It is probably worthwhile to say at the outset that I am not a Murakami superfan. I have read three of his books now and I nearly always leave with a vague sense of disappointment and unease. Killing Commendatore is not a good choice for a person w * 1.5 * One couldn't escape death, but it should come later - she wanted to know what it felt like to have full breasts and a woman's nipples at least once before she died. It would really suck if hornets killed her before she had that chance. Indeed. It is probably worthwhile to say at the outset that I am not a Murakami superfan. I have read three of his books now and I nearly always leave with a vague sense of disappointment and unease. Killing Commendatore is not a good choice for a person with this attitude because I think even superfans will agree this is not his best work. Nevertheless, my commitment to book club is such I dutifully plowed through this brick collecting up grievances. These can be summarised as i) Length ii) Repetition iii) Breasts (i) Length - It is too long man, far too long. It is a short story idea with an ego problem.Hari Kunzru sums it up well in his NYT review* :the narrator’s dreaminess mainly feels unfocused, and a story that might have been engaging at 300 or 400 pages is drawn out to almost 700. This is a novel in which no character can go to meet a friend at a restaurant without a description of the route and the traffic conditions.(ii) Repetition : Do you remember that pit we found ? the dry stone one that is 9 meters by 3 ?, the one with the bells, a stone pit covered over with ancient stones ? Well it is pretty hard to forget because it is mentioned constantly and each time it is redescribed using the exact same language. I am pretty sure the narrator wanders along to visit it about 18 times. This frustrating need to replay events and repeatedly describe scenes that are already established is probably my single biggest grievance. No book has needed an editor more desperately.(iii) Breasts - The little excerpt that was quoted in the annual bad sex in fiction award was indeed eye-wateringly bad but more odd to me was this books weird obsession with breasts. It was such a constantly repeated motif, that it was difficult not to feel this was Murakami's own obsession, every woman in this novel has their boobs sized and it almost the first thing you learn about them. The final section of the novel which in theory should have been relatively tension filled was undercut by 13 year Mariye checking to see if her breasts had sprouted, budded or otherwise developed. Sigh There is some good facets to this book, descriptions of the creative process of painting are particularly compelling. The character of the Commendatore was delightful and I wish he could have been made more of. It can be quite meditative to read Murakami, he captures the simple routines of everyday life well but it is a fine line between meditative and snooze-fest. (* NYT Review https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/16/bo... )
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  • Tony
    January 1, 1970
    Read the original 2 volume version in Japanese. As a Murakami fan (and admittedly budding skeptic) I found much of the uninspiring same in this 1,050 page story of a frustrated painter who is (ironically) trying to get inspired. Our intrepid narrator (as always, unnamed) is a disillusioned portrait artist for-hire who finds himself living in the mountain home of his old art college friend's father, the famous painter Tomohiko Amada, who is now incapacitated with severe dementia in a care facilit Read the original 2 volume version in Japanese. As a Murakami fan (and admittedly budding skeptic) I found much of the uninspiring same in this 1,050 page story of a frustrated painter who is (ironically) trying to get inspired. Our intrepid narrator (as always, unnamed) is a disillusioned portrait artist for-hire who finds himself living in the mountain home of his old art college friend's father, the famous painter Tomohiko Amada, who is now incapacitated with severe dementia in a care facility. Narrator, under the cloud of his impending divorce and painful memories of his younger sister who died in junior high, quits his steady but unadored gig and sets out to discover his own creative style and purpose. The slow moving story picks up a bit when Narrator reluctantly accepts an offer to paint (for a large but unrevealed sum) the portrait of one Wataru Menshiki, a mysterious, retired IT baron and investor.The familiar mishmash of Murakami tropes and ideas are present throughout Killing Commednatore, to such an extent sometimes that the author ends up coming across as a parody of himself. There is an isolated thirtysomething male protagonist, a precocious teenage girl, a deep hole and a subterranean world. An alluring ear and a cat also manage to get in a mention, though no, I still somehow managed to not get 'Bingo.' One of the biggest disappointments about Commendatore was its lack of movement--in both a figurative and quite literal sense. Throughout a crawling narrative where people do an awful lot of pillow talk and discussing opera over whiskey, there are some discoveries to be made and a missing person to be found. But revelations? Not so much--and what dark forces are introduced are inevitably left to pace the perimeter vaguely, even by the standards of this author, for whom nebulous menace is a calling card. This is a story where it is frustratingly unclear what is at stake and why, even in its most harrowing moments, and the lack of actual physical, questing throughout was disappointing, particularly for a novel of its size. There are no sheep to chase. Unlike in Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, the historicism is expository rather than transportive. Something like a Hard-Boiled Wonderland is finally traversed in the closing acts, but it feels too little too late.For all its derivativeness, however, Commendatore manages to do something new, if only a little. While Murakami remains a literary darling in the West, he retains a larger faction of critics in his home country who believe that his work, among other things, is 'not Japanese'. No doubt Commendatore retains the smaller things that may make the collective eye of Japan's traditionalist literati twitch (they could have miso soup for breakfast just once, I mean come on!), but Commendatore may still be Murakami's most 'Japanese' book to date. Japanese identity is explicitly scrutinized here through art and through guilt. Mention of a man who commits suicide ostensibly over his participation in the Nanking Massacre is the probably closest Murakami has ever come to a political statement, though that is not the tone. In Killing Commendatore, Murakami still exhibits his ability to craft an absorbing narrative and toy with some interesting ideas, but he is an author on autopilot--as completely comfortable as his seeking protagonists are not. It is my hope the author will take some risks next time.
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  • Gorkem
    January 1, 1970
    Hi MurakamiTo be honest, my first running into with Murakami was after my army duty. He had magically inspired me through his masterpiece Kafka On The Shore. Even the finale quote of book is written on my cello case in order to remember the feeling of the book. After this book, I slowly started to collect his all books written in both English and Turkish. With Dance Dance Dance, I can really never describe my feelings how much i satisfied with about the plot and rhythm of it as well as the same Hi MurakamiTo be honest, my first running into with Murakami was after my army duty. He had magically inspired me through his masterpiece Kafka On The Shore. Even the finale quote of book is written on my cello case in order to remember the feeling of the book. After this book, I slowly started to collect his all books written in both English and Turkish. With Dance Dance Dance, I can really never describe my feelings how much i satisfied with about the plot and rhythm of it as well as the same for Wind-Up Chronicle . However, his last books including 1Q84, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage I have never felt the same excitement and pleasure about him. Yet more, my all sympathy about Murakami started to disappear and i felt too wiped out to read and respect on him. Finally, I lost my all patience on Killing Commendatore. Why Murakami?Killing Commendatore really opens up with breath-taking prologue between a painter and a man without face. The description of the environment and faceless man were fun to start of Murakami's surrealism. However, along 681 pages, Murakami sadly couldn't stabilize the same excitement for me. Painting and artist as a metaphor were too cliche and sadly the basement of the story was not efficient. Almost about 300-400 pages, he never mentioned about prologue and pushed the reader an aimless reading experience. Also, it had no any great characters and the reader was expecting to meet up with a character who was despairingly hoping to love. Moreover, I felt that Murakami had an apprehension about filling out this book about boring descriptions. For instance,the protagonist of the book is an artist and he describes abstract art as if it is quoted from art 101 book. Bye-Bye Murakami!Briefly, this is probably my last Murakami book. Killing Commendatore is a bad draft of his any books. Murakami has badly repeated his himself on this book. I can even dare to say that this books is the same of Wind up Chronicle except changing the character and more deep mystic backgroundIf you are a murakami fan, you will probably hate me.However, I am sorry that Killing Commendatore contents over-populist concern and this is a summary of that there will be no more creative Murakami.バイ Murakami..5/2
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  • Ian
    January 1, 1970
    First MisapprehensionsMy first impression of this novel turned out to be a misapprehension.For the first ten pages, there were no references to characters' or place names. When the view of the Pacific Ocean was eventually mentioned, it could only be obtained by facing south-west. I had started to assume that the novel was set in northern or southern California, even though Murakami is obviously Japanese.The nameless narrator had separated from his wife of six years, Yuzu, and gone on a road trip First MisapprehensionsMy first impression of this novel turned out to be a misapprehension.For the first ten pages, there were no references to characters' or place names. When the view of the Pacific Ocean was eventually mentioned, it could only be obtained by facing south-west. I had started to assume that the novel was set in northern or southern California, even though Murakami is obviously Japanese.The nameless narrator had separated from his wife of six years, Yuzu, and gone on a road trip through the coastal towns, surf beaches, and mountains. The separation lasted nine months, before they "ended up making a go of marriage one more time." (7)Up to this point, the novel reminded me of a cross between a Raymond Carver story and Thomas Pynchon's "Vineland". When I finished it, 64 chapters and 681 pages later, I had a foggy notion it was closer to "Infinite Jest", only without the drugs and tennis.Nevertheless, the novel is a triumphant hybrid, both geographically, and metaphysically.My review focuses on the metaphysical and metafictional aspects of the novel, rather than the plot and the supernatural aspects. I've tried to avoid any spoilers."A Systematic, Logical Account"The narrator's life had been "basically placid, well adjusted, and, for the most part, rational." He says rational, even though he was a commercial portrait artist, who relied on his imagination and intuition. Even these qualities were tested over the nine months of separation, because it was "a period of chaos and confusion." (7) He felt like "a swimmer in the middle of a calm sea caught up in a mysterious whirlpool that came out of nowhere." (8)Some years later, after his wife has given birth to a daughter Muro, the narrator sits down to tell his story as best he can. When he thinks back on that nine month period (almost another gestation period), "the importance, perspective, and connections between events sometimes fluctuate, and if I take my eyes off them even for a second, the sequence I apply to them is quickly supplanted by something different." (8) Still, the contents of the novel are his attempt to "set down a systematic, logical account." (8) It's like "a helpless swimmer who snatches at a scrap of wood that floats his way.""A Lot of Dominoes Fell Over"Most of the novel reads logically enough, apart from the supernatural subject matter. Strangely, when I went back looking for the following quotation (which I remembered appearing at the very beginning), I didn't find it until page 58:"Generally speaking, whether something is logical or isn't, what's meaningful about it are the effects. Effects are there for anyone to see, and can have a real influence. But pinpointing the cause that produced the effect isn't easy. It's even harder to show people something concrete that caused it, in a 'Look, see?' kind of way. Of course there is a cause somewhere. Can't be an effect without a cause. You can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs. Like falling dominoes, one domino (cause) knocks over the adjacent domino (cause), which then knocks over the domino (cause) next to it. As this sequence continues on and on, you no longer know what was the original cause. Maybe it doesn't matter. Or people don't care to know. And the story comes down to 'What happened was, a lot of dominoes fell over.' The story I'll be telling here may very well follow a similar route." (58) Cause and EffectMurakami clearly believes in the importance of cause and effect, even if it's sometimes difficult to detect the precise cause or effect.While re-reading the novel in search of quotations, I realised how little of it was laid out in a conventional linear narrative. As long as all of the dominoes were there, it was enough that each domino fell on the domino next to it. The chronological or causative order of the domino or sequence was of less significance. The Flow of My LifeThe narrator relates to his painting in a similar way: if he could make time be on his side, "I was sure to seize the right flow." (48) The problem was that "somehow the flow of my life had gone off in the wrong direction." (48) He needs to get his personal and artistic groove back.After his road trip, he lives in a western style house in the mountains that belongs to the 92 year old father of a fellow art student, who was a famous Japanese artist himself (Tomohiko Amada):"As I listened to his record collection on the stereo he'd left behind, borrowed his books, slept in his bed, made meals every day in his kitchen, and used his studio, I gradually became more interested in Tomohiko Amada as a person." (51)"He was pretty wild and did whatever he liked...He was tall, good-looking, a young guy from a wealthy family, and a talented painter. How could women not be drawn to him? And he was certainly fond of the ladies." (61)A Pair of DominoesThe first two dominoes the narrator chooses to tell us about are a mysterious handsome, coolheaded, well-groomed, white-haired neighbour (the former businessman, Wataru Menshiki, who has commissioned the narrator to paint his portrait for an enormous fee) who lives in a white mansion on the mountaintop across the valley, and a painting titled "Killing Commendatore" that the narrator finds wrapped in paper and hidden in the attic. Inevitably, the narrator describes the two dominoes in reverse order. Just as the painting is hidden in the attic, there is a forbidden chamber in Mr. Menshiki's home. "Sounds like Bluebeard's castle." (120)"Whatever Order is Easiest"The narrator seeks some advice from Mr. Menshiki about how to tell him part of his story:"It's kind of a weird story. I might not be able to tell the whole story in the right order, so it makes sense." (136)Mr. Menshiki advises him, "Take your time, tell it in whatever order is easiest for you..." (136)"All Mysterious Things Should Be Left Buried"The story concerns two new dominoes which lead the story in the direction of a supernatural mystery: a bell, and a stone-walled pit in the ground covered by a mound of stones (the pit forms part of a shrine, and is analogous to the wells in Murakami's earlier novels). When the narrator tells his friend Masahiko about his plan to exhume the pit with Mr. Menshiki, Masahiko tells him that "all mysterious things should be left buried." (162) It's advice he doesn't take. The narrator prefers to trust the joint, dual intuition of himself and Mr. Menshiki.Objectivity and IntuitionThe process of painting the portrait informs the narrator about the workings of his intuition (which could equally apply to fiction and the composition of this novel in particular):"I had to find what was hidden beneath the surface. What underlay her personality - what allowed it to subsist. I had to find that something and bring it to the canvas." (407)"What you must discover, can you not see, is what it is about Mr. Menshiki that is not present here." (190)"Artistic impressions and objective reality are separate things. Impressions don't prove anything. They're like a butterfly in the wind - totally useless." (363)Later, the narrator extrapolates, "The visible is not the only reality...Sometimes in life we can't grasp the boundary between reality and unreality. That boundary always seems to be shifting." (205)Thirteen year old Mariye thinks alike: "I like things I can see as much as things I can't [see]." (341)Between Reality and UnrealityFor the narrator, the act of artistic creation is concerned with both what is present and what is absent (e.g., what is invisible and can't be seen). The artist must integrate both aspects of the subject's personality and manifest them in the painting. When it's finished, the narrator realises that the end product "outstripped the bounds of any logic or understanding I possessed."This process took him to a level of artistic abstraction beyond his earlier commissioned portraits. "It's not a portrait...it's a work done with you as a model. It's a work I had to paint...To put it another way, I prioritised the ego of the artist - myself - over you, the subject...and maybe extracted something from inside you that I shouldn't have." (200)The Realm of the MetaphysicalConversely, the narrator suspects that "maybe all I'd done was use Menshiki as a catalyst to locate something buried inside me and dig it up." (202) It's "an abstract-style portrait, one in which I let my imagination run free." (259)"That highly efficient cerebral cortex might seem wasted at first, but without it we wouldn't be able to enter the realm of the metaphysical." (260)In contrast, the narrator describes a blank canvas in terms of "Canvas Zen":"Nothing is painted there yet, but it's more than a simple blank space. Hidden on that white canvas is what must eventually emerge. As I look more closely, I discover various possibilities, which congeal into a perfect clue as to how to proceed. That's the moment I really enjoy. The moment when existence and nonexistence coalesce." (221)The Captured Subject Escapes the PaintingThese metaphysics open up the possibility that "a person in a picture could escape from it." (234) Alternatively, the novel imagines a world in which an Idea could adopt the form or appearance of a figure in a painting. "Like a hermit crab chooses the prettiest and most sturdy shell to live in." (240)These possibilities suggest that any product of the author's imagination might be "real" within the framework of the novel itself.The Darkness of the Artist's ConsciousnessIn this context, the narrator alludes to the music of Thelonious Monk:"Thelonious Monk did not get those unusual chords as a result of logic or theory. He opened his eyes wide, and scooped those chords out from the darkness of his consciousness. What is important is not creating something out of nothing. What my friends need to do is discover the right thing from what is already there." (242)In the Dark by YourselfMurakami and the narrator seem to associate alienation with darkness (and holes/pits):"I feel as if I lost track of something along the way, and have been searching for it ever since." (451) "I began to feel like a stranger to myself as well." (455)"When you're in the dark by yourself, it's like your body is gradually coming apart and disappearing." (252)"The walls close in on you and the delusion grabs you that you're going to be crushed. In order to survive, a person has to overcome that fear. Which means conquering yourself. And in order to do that, you need to get as close to death as you possibly can." (271)Alice in WonderlandThe narrator also alludes to Alice in Wonderland (and the rabbit hole) in relation to Mariye:"Alice really does exist in the world. The March Hare, the Walrus, the Cheshire Cat - they all really exist. And the Commendatore too, of course." (253)"She's a quiet child to begin with, and thirteen is said to be a difficult age, the beginning of puberty." (420)"Mariye hadn't yet reached the stage where she could see herself as an object of male desire." (469)"That's one heck of a hypothesis." (673)"How Freudian can you get? I imagined some egghead critic fulminating on the drawing's psychological implications: 'This black, gaping hole, so reminiscent of a woman's solitary genitalia, must be understood functionally, as a symbolic representation of the artist's memories and unconscious desires.'" (381)On the other hand, the hole might represent the passageway to unreality, or, in Mariye's (and Alice's) case, the path through puberty to adolescence and maturity.The Possibility of UnrealityJust as the novel is concerned with reality and unreality, it contemplates the possibility that reality represents the truth, and unreality (represents) fantasy and illusion (the products of the mind and the imagination).Menshiki, who is a more pragmatic version of the narrator, accommodates the possibility of unreality in these terms: "Instead of a stable truth, I choose unstable possibilities. I choose to surrender myself to that instability." (280)"Changes in a person's feelings aren't regulated by custom, logic, or the law. They're fluid, unstable, free to spread their wings and fly away. Like migratory birds have no concept of borders between countries." (315)The narrator is deluged with unreality on his spiritual journey:"All sorts of things I couldn't explain were insidiously grabbing hold of me. Tomohiko Amada's 'Killing Commendatore' that I'd discovered in the attic, the strange bell left behind inside the gaping stone chamber in the woods, the Idea that appeared to me in the guise of the Commendatore, and the middle-aged man with the white Subaru Forester. And that odd white-haired person who lived across the valley. Menshiki." (297)Reality Doesn't Necessarily Extinguish FantasyMasahiko says Tomohiko's "memory is like a black hole. This dark, unfathomable hole that popped up out of nowhere in the middle of the cosmos." (446)The Commendatore explains: "There are plenty of things in history that are best left in the shadows. Accurate knowledge does not improve people's lives. The objective does not necessarily surpass the subjective, you know. Reality does not necessarily extinguish fantasy." (301)Allegories and MetaphorsBeyond reality, there are allegories and metaphors that go beyond reason:"Allegories and metaphors are not something you should explain in words. You just grasp and accept them." (302)"My thoughts and those of the pit were like trees grown together: our roots joined in the dark, our sap intermingled. In this condition, self and other blended like the paints on my palette, their borders ever more indistinct." (379)"I had been compelled to endure one ordeal after another in a world of darkness." (597)"So I'm the catalyst that happened to set those events in motion?" (418)"I had met Menshiki soon after my arrival in early summer, we had dug up the pit behind the shrine, then the Commendatore had made his appearance, and finally Mariye Akikawa and her aunt Shoko had entered my life. I had a girlfriend, a housewife in her sexual prime, who came to comfort me. Tomohiko Amada's living spirit had paid me a visit. There was hardly time to be bored." (446)"You'd better believe it." (681)
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  • Sam Quixote
    January 1, 1970
    As you might expect for a 700+ page novel, a fair amount of stuff happens in Killing Commendatore but the story is actually quite easy to summarise: there isn’t one! Which is a large part of what makes it such a frustrating read. A portrait painter’s marriage dissolves leading to him wandering Japan aimlessly until he happens across the home of a famous artist who’s dying in hospital. The artist’s son invites him to stay and he discovers a painting hidden in the attic: a piece entitled Killing C As you might expect for a 700+ page novel, a fair amount of stuff happens in Killing Commendatore but the story is actually quite easy to summarise: there isn’t one! Which is a large part of what makes it such a frustrating read. A portrait painter’s marriage dissolves leading to him wandering Japan aimlessly until he happens across the home of a famous artist who’s dying in hospital. The artist’s son invites him to stay and he discovers a painting hidden in the attic: a piece entitled Killing Commendatore. Inspired by Mozart’s Don Giovanni and reimagined through Japanese history, it might be tied into a Nazi assassination attempt from WW2. Or not. There’s a mysterious bell that rings in the night, a mummified priest buried alive in a shrine, a living idea come to life from the painting - the Commandatore himself - a strange rich man spying on a little girl he believes is his daughter, though she isn’t aware that he’s her possible dad, and a LOT of awkward sex! So… what’s the point? I really don’t know. I picked up the Great Gatsby homage - the charismatic rich guy with the chequered past living in the flashy house across the way, the bell in the night like the haunting green light - but I don’t think Murakami pulled it off convincingly nor did I understand why he wanted to do it. Nor why this book needed to be 700+ pages! There’s so little material here that’s maddeningly stretched out. Fitzgerald did so much more with so much less! There’s also a spooky Orpheus Descending sequence that felt tacked on and unnecessary. Not to mention utterly baffling - something about living metaphors and similes?! Which wasn’t nearly as creepy as the numerous passages on the main character’s sister’s breasts and a prepubescent little girl’s - whaaat whyyyy?! Too weird! Murakami tries to create some kind of resolution towards the end by making the little girl bizarrely hide out at the rich guy’s house without any clear way for how she planned to find out what she wanted to know, and then arbitrarily turning the rich guy into the villain for a hot minute - none of it worked. It would be inaccurate to say that I disliked everything about the book - after all, I did finish it. The Commendatore himself was an amusing character and he improved every scene he appeared in (“Affirmative, my friends!”). As incomprehensible as the Orpheus Descending sequence was, the dark and sinister shift was a welcome change of pace to the mundane reality that made up most of the novel. And I’ve never read anything like that before either even if I didn’t get it! The Nazi assassination and the mummified priest were compelling ideas that might’ve worked in a better thought-out piece but here just felt carelessly thrown in. Killing Commendatore is not a good novel. It’s much too long, way too unfocused and rambling beyond belief. The story is unmemorable, the characters are unremarkable and it’s so confusing what the author’s driving at that little to none of it leaves any impression - for such a chunky book its lack of substance makes it very light. It’s not Haruki Murakami’s worst (that would be Colorless Tsukuru) but Killing Commendatore is a sprawling mess of half-baked ideas and an unsatisfying non-story that I wouldn’t recommend even to fans of this author.
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  • Edward Lorn
    January 1, 1970
    I hesitate to recommend this astounding novel because if a reader misses the hints early on they're going to have a bad time. The metaphor is thick with this one, and even mentioning what means what in this book would be the most heinous of grievances. Because that's what makes a Murakami novel such a wonderful experience. Puzzling out the meanings. Doing so, for me, is a refreshing change of pace. I don't like an author to hold my hand, which far too many do these days, and Murakami rarely even I hesitate to recommend this astounding novel because if a reader misses the hints early on they're going to have a bad time. The metaphor is thick with this one, and even mentioning what means what in this book would be the most heinous of grievances. Because that's what makes a Murakami novel such a wonderful experience. Puzzling out the meanings. Doing so, for me, is a refreshing change of pace. I don't like an author to hold my hand, which far too many do these days, and Murakami rarely even waits up ahead, much less by my side."But, E., it's easy for you to say this book is brilliant as you vaguepost about how metaphor-heavy and brilliant this is, ya fuckin pretensious poser!" Okay. I'll put my money where my mouth is, possible future commenter. If you think I'm blowing smoke up your poop chute, drop me a comment and we'll discuss the many intricacies of this novel in private messages. (Many thanks to my buddy Gregor Xane who read this one with me and helped to unlocked its secrets. It was a pleasure, man.)My friend Sarah brought up how there's a sex scene in this book that's up for a Worst Sex Scene of the Year award. If it's the one I'm thinking of, it's supposed to be bad. Murakami even explains in the book why it's supposed to be bad. Really hard to miss, considering it's right after the scene ends. The more upsetting part of this book is how the main character constantly describes the breasts and beauty of a thirteen-year-old girl, but the age of consent in Japan is thirteen, so I'll chalk it up to cultural differences. Nonetheless, it's fucking weird to read. But I made it through LOLITA and THE HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE, so this was a cakewalk. Mind you the narrator never makes a pass at the girl or describes her in a sexual nature. It's just awkward thinking about a grown man and a young girl discussing budding breasts, and the like. No matter the awkward nature of certain elements, I never wanted to stop reading this book. I felt saddened to see it end. Very few books of this length accomplish such a feat. Instances of other long books I wish were even longer would be: IT, GONE WITH THE WIND, and THE TERROR. 1Q84 by this author is yet another example of a huge book I never wanted to end. The fluid nature of this translation only helps in that regard, and Murakami's unpredictable narrative is the icing on the proverbial cake. (Mmm...cake...)In summation: It's a shame that more more of my friends aren't catching the meaning here because this truly is a terrifically built metaphor for...never mind. Spoilers. But if you'd like to discuss, let's do so privately.Final Judgment: This Land of Metaphor has left many in the dark.
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  • Daniel Simmons
    January 1, 1970
    If I were feeling charitable, which I'm not, I would say this is "vintage Murakami" or a "return to masterful form" or something like that after the under-edited "1Q84" and faintly ridiculous "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki...", since like many of his earlier (mostly better) novels, this one features creepy holes in the ground and WW2 atrocities and jazz references and ennui-laden pasta sauce-making. But it just feels like recycling the same stuff to no particularly new or wondrous effect. It's like h If I were feeling charitable, which I'm not, I would say this is "vintage Murakami" or a "return to masterful form" or something like that after the under-edited "1Q84" and faintly ridiculous "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki...", since like many of his earlier (mostly better) novels, this one features creepy holes in the ground and WW2 atrocities and jazz references and ennui-laden pasta sauce-making. But it just feels like recycling the same stuff to no particularly new or wondrous effect. It's like he's writing on autopilot, just phoning it in, really, and while he's still good at creating a certain unique unsettling mood (wherein the boundaries of the characters' normally quotidian lives are always at risk of suddenly blurring or collapsing into paranormal weirdness), that mood is often rudely interrupted by passages of thuddingly dull dialogue or, well, stuff like this: "Up till then I'd had sexual relationships with a number of women -- not so many I could brag about it -- but her vagina was more exquisite, more wondrously varied, than any other I'd ever known. And it was a deplorable thing that it had lain there, unused, for so many years. When I told her this, she didn't look as dissatisfied as you might have thought" (p. 293).Murakami-san, come ONNNNN. Even a soft-boiled wonderland would be better than this.
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  • SAM
    January 1, 1970
    Killing Commendatore has an intriguing plot and after only three of his books I can quite confidently say that it’s typical Murakami. After a sudden split from his wife, the Narrator quits his job as a portrait artist, abandons built up civilisation and holes up in his friends isolated mountain home, which once housed Japans most famous artist. Whilst exploring the attic he uncovers a forgotten painting entitled Killing Commendatore. What follows is, obviously, a bizarre series of events that le Killing Commendatore has an intriguing plot and after only three of his books I can quite confidently say that it’s typical Murakami. After a sudden split from his wife, the Narrator quits his job as a portrait artist, abandons built up civilisation and holes up in his friends isolated mountain home, which once housed Japans most famous artist. Whilst exploring the attic he uncovers a forgotten painting entitled Killing Commendatore. What follows is, obviously, a bizarre series of events that lead you to question what is and isn’t real.For 500 pages this was the best book i’d read in 2019. The discovery of the painting opens up a circle of mystery and investigation that had me addicted to turning the pages as I had to know the answer to the questions the Narrator was exploring. It was philosophical, historical and just a great story and I was convinced i’d be scoring it 5 out of 5. Unfortunately after 500 odd pages the finale kicked off and it all became a bit silly. He could have ended the investigation with a sense of normality but he decided to go full weird and stupid. I obviously wont spoil anything but I couldn’t believe the story went downhill so fast. It was as if a different writer wrote the last 15% of the book. Another thing that really ticked me off was how every loose end was tied up. Barely any intrigue was left unsolved with the last few pages becoming a boring summary of the aftermath. The sheer quantity of sex also became a chore to read and slightly creepy.This is now my third outing with Murakmi and I’m still yet to be blown away and left in awe of the great writer he is renowned to be. I’ll persevere as I own Norwegian Wood and have The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle on my to-read list and there are enough extended periods of greatness in the books I’ve read to keep me interested but his endings always let me down. 1Q84, Kafka on the Shore and now Killing Commendatore all diagnosed with Stephen King syndrome. Today when i awoke from a nap the faceless man was there before me. He was seated on the chair across from the sofa i’d been sleeping on, staring straight at me with a pair of imaginary eyes in a face that wasn’t
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  • Faroukh Naseem
    January 1, 1970
    This is probably my 8th or 9th Murakami and I’ve finally come to realize Murakami doesn’t write to please anyone, sometimes it feels like he doesn’t even write to please himself. He writes because he needs to; he needs to free his mind of these thoughts that’ve made a home in his mind. And I have nothing to complain about that, we’re lucky he’s decided to!This is the first time I took notes and wrote bullet points to refer to when writing the review of the book. This is also the first time I’m d This is probably my 8th or 9th Murakami and I’ve finally come to realize Murakami doesn’t write to please anyone, sometimes it feels like he doesn’t even write to please himself. He writes because he needs to; he needs to free his mind of these thoughts that’ve made a home in his mind. And I have nothing to complain about that, we’re lucky he’s decided to!This is the first time I took notes and wrote bullet points to refer to when writing the review of the book. This is also the first time I’m deleting them since they will make the review seem mechanical. So free flow it is, dare I say, like Eminem, I’m a Kamakaze.It’s been more than 10 days since I finished reading Killing Commendatore, I have two reasons for waiting so long to start writing this review. Number one being that sometimes I tend to get a bit excited as soon as I finish a book and end up mostly thinking about the later parts of the book. Second is for everything to sink in and remove all the little random bits like a brain sieve.This book starts with a very magical Prologue which sets the scene for the book which is followed by a very easy flowing but unique first 200 pages. You can tell things are going to go crazy and can almost sense it, but when it hits, you’re not ready for it. The guiding light for everything is Menshiki, a character inspired by and a homage to Gatsby. Yes, Jay Gatsby! The plot is inspired from The Great Gatsby and Murakami does more than justice to it. The book has multiple references to Gatsby and the uncanny resemblance in the characters of Menshiki to Gatsby and the unnamed protagonists to Nick is beautifully handled. Their relationship is not usual as is with most Murakami characters. What was very interesting to me though, was although based on these evergreen characters, they didn’t over power the plot and they fit perfectly which sometimes isn’t the case. It could feel forced if not balanced properly to the new plot.If you don’t know, Murakami’s picks for the three most meaningful books to him are The Great Gatsby, The Brothers Karamazov and The Long Goodbye. A few years ago he also translated Gatsby in Japanese. So Killing Commendatore is that much more interesting to fans of Murakami.The book is set on a hill station in a quiet town in Japan, a silent but very atmospheric setting. The mood is created through numerous references to songs, the silence of the hills, the focus on any sounds of around the characters. Murakami fills up the void created by the silence really well and the characters, though isolated have strong and distinct personalities. Another thing very tactfully done is the inclusion of history (References mainly to the annexation of Austria in Nazi Germany)Midway through Volume one something happens which we realize in the grand scheme of things isn’t as shocking (Kind of like we get used to characters being killed off in Game of Thrones but when Ned Stark is assassinated, we couldn’t believe it!) What I realized later on in Volume two is that I was underestimating the magical element in this book, a pleasant surprise!Menshiki and our protagonist is joined by 2 other characters, a girl and her aunt which breath fresh air into the setting, especially the girl who becomes the center of everything that happens in volume 2 and Menshiki takes the back seat. I could go on about all the little things that Murakami does to give life to the characters, like how the narrator always notices paintings wherever he goes since he is a painter but I’d be taking a lot away from your experience of the book.Overall, this book is to be savored, and before anything I’d recommend reading The Great Gatsby and also Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (which forms an integral part of the book)There was something lacking about the ending, it wasn’t as dramatic The Great Gatsby but then again there are somethings F Scott Fitzgerald did that you can’t imitate.If book depository ships to you, here’s a link so you can order right away – KILLING COMMENDATORE
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  • Lee
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 (picked up a bit after a 'Murakami-by-numbers' middle section) rounded down. I'll write a longer review at some point but, for now, two things feel worth mentioning. One: some of this is so Lynch-inspired that on one occasion he even lifts an actual line of dialogue from Lost Highway ("It is not my custom to go where I'm not invited."). Two: here's my favourite worst bit of Murakami ever: “My breasts are really small, don’t you think?” Mariye asked, out of nowhere. “I wonder,” I said. “They’ 3.5 (picked up a bit after a 'Murakami-by-numbers' middle section) rounded down. I'll write a longer review at some point but, for now, two things feel worth mentioning. One: some of this is so Lynch-inspired that on one occasion he even lifts an actual line of dialogue from Lost Highway ("It is not my custom to go where I'm not invited."). Two: here's my favourite worst bit of Murakami ever: “My breasts are really small, don’t you think?” Mariye asked, out of nowhere. “I wonder,” I said. “They’re like bread that didn’t rise.” I laughed. “You’ve just started junior high. I’m sure they’ll get bigger. It’s nothing to worry about.” “I don’t even really need a bra. The other girls in my class all wear bras.” Certainly it was hard to see any development through her sweater. “If it really bothers you, you could always pad your bra,” I said.“You want me to?” “Either way’s fine with me. It’s not like I’m painting you to capture your breasts. You should do whatever you like.” “But don’t men like women with big breasts?” “Not necessarily,” I said. “When my younger sister was about your age, her breasts were small too. But that didn’t seem to bother her.” “Maybe it bothered her, but she just didn’t mention it.” “Could be,” I said. But I don’t think that bothered Komi. She had other things to worry about. “Did your sister’s breasts get bigger after that?” My hand continued to move the pencil swiftly across the page. I didn’t respond to her question. Mariye watched my hand glide along the paper. “Did her breasts get bigger after that?” Mariye asked again. “No, they didn’t,” I finally gave up and answered. “My sister died the year she entered junior high. She was only twelve.” Mariye didn’t say anything for a while.“Don’t you think my aunt’s really beautiful?” Mariye said, abruptly changing subjects. “Yes, she’s a very lovely person.” “Are you single?” “Ah—nearly,” I responded. Once that envelope arrived at the law office it’d be completely.“Would you like to go on a date with her?” “That would be nice.” “She has big breasts, too.” “I hadn’t noticed.” “And they’re really nicely shaped. We bathe together sometimes, so I know.” I looked at Mariye’s face again. “Do you get along well with your aunt?” “We fight sometimes,” she said. “About what?” “All kinds of things. When we have a difference of opinion, or when she makes me mad.” “You’re an unusual girl,” I said. “You’re quite different from when you’re in art class. I got the impression you were very quiet.” “In places where I don’t want to talk, I don’t,” she said simply. “Am I talking too much? Would it be better if I stayed quiet?” “No, not at all. I like talking. Feel free to talk as much as you like.” Of course I welcomed a lively conversation. I wasn’t about to stay totally silent for nearly two hours and just paint. “I can’t help thinking about my breasts,” Mariye said after a while. “That’s all I think about, pretty much. Is that weird?”
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  • Pavle
    January 1, 1970
    Ravnodušni protagonista, klasična muzika, džez, umetnost, brak pri raspadu, seks, usamljenost, čudni mali ljudi, drugi svetovi, fatalizam, hrana... Većina nas je upoznata sa Murakamijevim Romanom. Ono što je ovde drugačije, medjutim, jeste koliko je često transparentan sa upotrebom metafora, simbola i ideja, što i nije toliko čudno, s obzirom da je roman upravo o Idejama i Metaforama. Po tome, tom nedostatku uvijenosti koja krasi neke druge njegove romane (gde poenta uopšte nije ključna), Komend Ravnodušni protagonista, klasična muzika, džez, umetnost, brak pri raspadu, seks, usamljenost, čudni mali ljudi, drugi svetovi, fatalizam, hrana... Većina nas je upoznata sa Murakamijevim Romanom. Ono što je ovde drugačije, medjutim, jeste koliko je često transparentan sa upotrebom metafora, simbola i ideja, što i nije toliko čudno, s obzirom da je roman upravo o Idejama i Metaforama. Po tome, tom nedostatku uvijenosti koja krasi neke druge njegove romane (gde poenta uopšte nije ključna), Komendatore je najsličniji Tvrdokuvanom Jajetu (a takodje i po gotovo potpunoj pripadnosti SFF žanru). Dakle, likovi i dalje nemaju nikakvu predstavu zašto rade to što rade (ali znaju da to moraju da urade), ali čitalac ima, pa, prilično dobru „ideju“. I sve je tako lepo i divno i zavodi te da pomisliš da nešto znaš, a onda dodje kraj koji te baci u rebus. Znaš li ti uopšte išta? Šta je metafora? Može li metafora biti dupla? Odjednom ne znaš da li je kraj srećan ili tužan. Ne znaš ni da li su tvoje sopstvene ideje, koncepti, teorije bile na mestu ili ne. I rekao bih da je to možda i glavna čar ovog romana. Igra se sa samim poimanjem književnosti kao smislene celine. Nije to za Murakamija ništa novo, no ovde je i ključno. Knjiga o knjigama, ili makar o umetnosti. Bez obzira na to, ipak mislim da su mu neki drugi završetci bili smisleniji (pri čemu moram da se delimično ogradim od same te reči). Nekako, bez obzira na simboličnu slepu ulicu Kafke ili 1Q84 ili Ptice, uvek postoji izvesna celovitost koja ovde nedostaje. Što bi sam Murakami verovatno smetnuo u italikse: nešto se završilo. Koja je dakle poenta? Mora li delo imati istu? Eh, vrtim se u krug. I čini mi se da ću dobiti nervni slom svakog časa. A i ko to uopšte može da zna. Ili pak – ko to uopšte pa i želi da zna? 5-
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  • Sumaiyya
    January 1, 1970
    If there was ever any doubt to the fact of Haruki Murakami's skill at nuanced storytelling, KILLING COMMENDATORE eliminates them all with its artistic telling.*Publishing on 9th October 2018, Harvill Secker, Penguin UK*The latest novel from the Japanese author is a gripping tale of art and obsession. With nearly 700 pages to its name, KILLING COMMENDATORE surprises with prose that flows nearly as smoothly as the many layers of interconnected meanings in the story. There are several familiar elem If there was ever any doubt to the fact of Haruki Murakami's skill at nuanced storytelling, KILLING COMMENDATORE eliminates them all with its artistic telling.
*Publishing on 9th October 2018, Harvill Secker, Penguin UK*
The latest novel from the Japanese author is a gripping tale of art and obsession. With nearly 700 pages to its name, KILLING COMMENDATORE surprises with prose that flows nearly as smoothly as the many layers of interconnected meanings in the story. There are several familiar elements: an unnamed male narrator, an increasingly bizarre plot aided by inexplicable occurrences, music references, the methodical unrolling of each day in the narrator's life. And of course, cats.
"None of us are ever finished. Everyone is always a work in progress."
The unnamed narrator (a portrait painter by profession) is at a crossroads in his life following the unexpected and unforeseen demise of his marriage. His separation leads him to take up occupancy at the house of Tomohiko Amada, his friend's father, a famous painter. The house, located in the mountains of a small town, is the main setting of the novel. The brilliance of KILLING COMMENDATORE mainly takes place in its space and the accompanying woods. The sense of isolation the remote setting creates is palpable in the reading of the novel. It's like a world with its own energy encasing the spirit of the story, a place where the supernatural appropriates reality.
The novel is split into two volumes: The Idea Made Visible and The Shifting Metaphor. The story begins with an unsettling prologue that intermittently lingers in the back of your mind as you wade deeper into the story. The strangeness of the prologue prods you forth with the awareness that no matter how normal the narrative feels right now, things will most certainly capsize. The signature surrealism of Murakami will leap at you, any page now. The final 200 pages are packed with details and action that unpacks the bizarre tangents.
Alone in the rooms where Tomohiko Amada lived and painted, the narrator embarks on a journey which uncovers Killing Commendatore, a mysterious painting in the attic, stowed out of sight. In fact, it's the only painting in the entire house, which makes it an object of greater curiosity for the thirty-something narrator. Enter Wataru Menshiki, an enigmatic and peculiar man willing to pay the narrator a huge commission for a portrait. Menshiki's character is parallel to Gatsby's, and that's one of the reasons the strange charm attached to his persona never really dissipated (in my reading of the novel). As Menshiki slowly becomes a regular in the narrator's life, his obsession and motives become slightly clear. This is followed by the entrance of a peculiar 13 year old girl and her aunt. The girl's obsession with her body's maturity is one of those elements that are idiosyncratic and weird at best.
Murakami has managed to create a balanced parallel to The Great Gatsby, drawing only enough similarities to retain the uniqueness and originality of his epic. As someone familiar with the classic text on a near-obsessive level (I named my cat Gatsby), reading KC was almost like a treasure hunt of all the Easter eggs he had dropped in his story. The familiarities in KC and The Great Gatsby unfold seamlessly, with Murakami managing to control his latest from becoming a great rip off of an American classic. So while KILLING COMMENDATORE traces elements from The Great Gatsby, it is obviously a sprawling and layered chronicle that goes beyond the enigma of the classic. The final effect is on a metaphysical and psychological level, making KC a fantastic story of Gatsby-esque obsession visible in both the narrator and Menshiki. The world shaping that obsession is entirely and fabulously Murakami-esque.
While the novel follows somewhat in the tradition of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, it reminded me equally of the realism in Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. I'd advise reading The Great Gatsby before you take a plunge into KILLING COMMENDATORE; the link to the classic and it's imprint and influence on Murakami's writing add a definitive layer of meaning to the story. Tip - When you read Gatsby, think a bit about its narrator's role in the story.
KILLING COMMENDATORE is an inquisition into the world of art and the unfurling of explosive capacities in an unknown painting that seems to carry multitudes of meanings. One major takeaway? Murakami must write another art-themed mystery/magic realism. Murakami and art is the combination that needs to become a regular thing.
Haruki Murakami expands the breadth of his literary nuance and intrigue in KILLING COMMENDATORE. There's no simple way to express what a Murakami novel does to the soul. I devoured the story, the writing and the gratification that comes with turning the last page and knowing that every single page was worth it. In fact, I was wishing for it to be longer. There were no wasted words, and somehow despite its length and spiralling trail, the craftsman seemed to be in complete control of the story from the very first page.
KILLING COMMENDATORE is positively the best Murakami novel I have ever read. I'm thrilled for all the people who have yet to read it. It's going to be epic and I am so grateful to Penguin UK Books for sending me an advance copy to read and enjoy. The opinions in this review are entirely my own and written with honesty.Review from my blog: https://sumaiyyareads.wordpress.com/2...
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  • Em*bedded-in-books*
    January 1, 1970
    Was a bizarre and awesome read , though the ending left some unanswered questions ( to me, at least).Unable to coherently review this for the time being .How I came upon this book?Noticed this one at a Flipkart sale with a lucrative 45% discount, and grabbed at the opportunity without even blinking an eye. (Though alas, if patience was a virtue with me, I would have gotten it for nearly 55% discount from Amazon, barely a week later.)The hardback was perfect and beautiful, with an intriguing jack Was a bizarre and awesome read , though the ending left some unanswered questions ( to me, at least).Unable to coherently review this for the time being .How I came upon this book?Noticed this one at a Flipkart sale with a lucrative 45% discount, and grabbed at the opportunity without even blinking an eye. (Though alas, if patience was a virtue with me, I would have gotten it for nearly 55% discount from Amazon, barely a week later.)The hardback was perfect and beautiful, with an intriguing jacket cover (as almost all Murakami hardbacks are, and paperbacks too aren't far behind in their attraction potential)Started reading within a few hours of laying my hands upon it, and relished it bit by bit, and took nearly two weeks to complete.Many aspects were familiar to me, being a Murakami veteran.The 30 something single man, recently seperated from wife, animals (cats and owl here, though no crow or rat, except mentioned in passing), music, loneliness, eccentricity, bizarre sex, strong female characters,  a very peculiar though lovable teenaged girl, mysterious men, friends…And above all, … the peculiar Magical Realism, made real to the reader, only as Murakami can.Music and art was mentioned a lot, and I greedily lapped up the knowledge, though I knew I would forget all the names and details soon.I had also bought Men without Women, another Murakami work along with this… planning to read it next, after a couple of weeks' gap.   
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  • Gumble's Yard
    January 1, 1970
    Generally I love Murakami - and I think I have read (and kept) every one of his novels published in English - but this one I think caught me at the wrong time after I had been reading and enjoying some challenging literature. I felt like all the time I was reading, there was a young voice in my head pointing out the lack of literary clothing, that I normally choose to ignore when enjoying this Emperor of writing. (Of course the irony of a little person speaking in my head when reading a Murakami Generally I love Murakami - and I think I have read (and kept) every one of his novels published in English - but this one I think caught me at the wrong time after I had been reading and enjoying some challenging literature. I felt like all the time I was reading, there was a young voice in my head pointing out the lack of literary clothing, that I normally choose to ignore when enjoying this Emperor of writing. (Of course the irony of a little person speaking in my head when reading a Murakami novel is not lost on me.)I struggled with many (if not most) of the ideas and metaphors used: soccer players memorising the rules of the game (really - I doubt many Premiership players have even read them); only 10% of the brain being used (a tired urban myth); a bizarre and as far as I can tell almost entirely wrong understanding of Dolphin's ability to sleep with half their brain; the amazing revelation that the Spanish armada suffered most of its losses to the Irish weather (who knew - apart from most schoolchildren in England).And without going into details the whole thing with the 13 year old girl (not just the obsession with her body shape but also the initial inspiration he takes for her picture immediately after seeing that another picture he has painted can be viewed as something else) was at best creepy.Paul in his excellent review (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...) plays a game of Murakami Bingo - and I was able to assist him with some of the squares that he had not spotted.I would use a different idea to Murakami-bingo:This is a book that features a corporate-portrait painter who, through, circumstance re-finds his creativity and discovers a new way to paint; and as a key character a painter who goes to Europe to study and is so traumatised by what he witnesses and does (or more accurately does not do) there, completely changes his art to a traditional Japanese school. However Murakami I feel makes no effort to change his style here at all. In fact this book felt at times like "Murakami-by-numbers" I even speculated when reading if Murakami should do like James Paterson and employ co-authors to write books in his style (perhaps even employ English ones so we could read his novels without the delay of translation). Although I realised this could not work. Paterson's style is to give his co-authors tight outlines of the plot - whereas of course the very joy of Murakami is his ability to write without planning and to let the story simply take whatever course it and its characters take (something that it is very fashionable for authors to claim they do - but which I believe is completely true in Murakami's case).But ultimately its Murakami and for all its flaws, his books are ones to get lost in. So 3* and I will probably buy this for my bookshelves when in Paperback and order his next novel the day it is announced.
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  • Laura Noggle
    January 1, 1970
    A Murakami twist on The Great Gatsby, The Indian in the Cupboard, and Duma Key. Another bewitching mis en scene by Murakami. This was my 7th Murakami book, and although not quite as good as 1Q84 and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (my two favorites), it was still charmingly atmospheric and engrossing. Murakami's world envelops you up as the story unfolds. I actually didn't realize there was an intended link to The Great Gatsby until after I'd finished reading and saw other reviews, although in hinds A Murakami twist on The Great Gatsby, The Indian in the Cupboard, and Duma Key. Another bewitching mis en scene by Murakami. This was my 7th Murakami book, and although not quite as good as 1Q84 and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (my two favorites), it was still charmingly atmospheric and engrossing. Murakami's world envelops you up as the story unfolds. I actually didn't realize there was an intended link to The Great Gatsby until after I'd finished reading and saw other reviews, although in hindsight, I see the correlation. "It was still inchoate, something missing. Something that should be there was appealing to the nonvalidity of absence. And that missing element was rapping on the glass window separating presence and absence. I could make out its wordless cry."After stumbling across "Murakami Bingo," I don't think I'll ever read another Murakami book without thinking about it. It was fun to check off each box, and this book incorporated at least 20 out of 25 squares."As the days piled up, I wore out, too, and was remade. Nothing stayed still. And time was lost. Behind me, time became dead grains of sand, which one after another gave way and vanished. I just sat there in front of the hole, listening to the sound of time dying."The writing is at times brilliant and breathtaking, and yet, there were two main points that prevented me from giving Killing Commendatore five stars: really bad sex, and a reoccurring fixation on the development (or lack thereof) of teenage breasts. This reoccurring "joke" was not funny, über awkward, and added absolutely nothing to the story.Not surprisingly, Killing Commendatore was shortlisted for The Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction 2018 award. You can read the most cringeworthy paragraphs here. Still, Killing Commendatore was an enjoyable journey. It's fun to note the themes and similarities between all of Murakami's books, especially the attraction to dark holes, secret passageways, the passing of time, and parallel worlds. And the writing, I'll always come back for the haunting, ephemeral writing. Further reading:The New Yorker: Haruki Murakami On Parallel RealitiesThe Guardian: Haruki Murakami 'My lifetime dream is to be sitting at the bottom of a well'(Upon reflection, quite possibly my 3rd favorite Murakami book thus far.)
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  • notgettingenough
    January 1, 1970
    In all conscience I can't put this on my 'better written than Harry Potter' shelf because I just don't think a sex scene in HP could be this bad. Of course, people who have actually read HP may set me right on that.My ejaculation was violent, and repeated. Again and again, semen poured from me, overflowing her vagina, turning the sheets sticky. There was nothing I could do to make it stop. If it continued, I worried, I would be completely emptied out. Yuzu slept deeply through it all without mak In all conscience I can't put this on my 'better written than Harry Potter' shelf because I just don't think a sex scene in HP could be this bad. Of course, people who have actually read HP may set me right on that.My ejaculation was violent, and repeated. Again and again, semen poured from me, overflowing her vagina, turning the sheets sticky. There was nothing I could do to make it stop. If it continued, I worried, I would be completely emptied out. Yuzu slept deeply through it all without making a sound, her breathing even. Her sex, though, had contracted around mine, and would not let go. As if it had an unshakeable will of its own and was determined to wring every last drop from my body.Got to be the winner of the worst written sex this year. Not to mention seriously weird and creepy. Why is it that men think a teaspoon or thereabouts of gunk goes that far? And do male writers think that semen comes in quantities in proportion to their fame? I'm thinking now of On Chesil Beach, where McEwan actually writes:He gave out a wail, a complicated series of agonised, rising vowels, the sort of sound she had heard once in a comedy film when a waiter, weaving this way and that, appeared to be about to drop a towering pile of soup plates.In horror she let go, as Edward, rising up with a bewildered look, his muscular back arching in spasms, emptied himself over her in gouts, in vigorous but diminishing quantities, filling her navel, coating her belly, thighs, and even a portion of her chin and knee cap in tepid, viscous fluid... And to think that is going to be a movie. My best advice is to take your umbrella. The rest of my rant on that one is here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...For the other nominations for 2018 see here.
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  • Neil
    January 1, 1970
    I have read several times that Murakami does not plan out his stories in advance. In The Guardian, Xan Brooks writes that Murakami gets into a rhythm of writing in the morning and running in the afternoon. Eventually, he says, the writing and the running become indivisible, a “form of mesmerism” that serves to cast the author as a semiconscious agent in the forward movement of the narrative, or an observant traveller through pre-existing terrain.This would, I think, be scary for someone at the s I have read several times that Murakami does not plan out his stories in advance. In The Guardian, Xan Brooks writes that Murakami gets into a rhythm of writing in the morning and running in the afternoon. Eventually, he says, the writing and the running become indivisible, a “form of mesmerism” that serves to cast the author as a semiconscious agent in the forward movement of the narrative, or an observant traveller through pre-existing terrain.This would, I think, be scary for someone at the start of their authorial career. But Murakami is an experienced novelist, and a famous one who, therefore, probably has a bit more leeway from editors etc.. This novel starts with an artist going on a road trip as his marriage breaks down, re-shapes itself as he starts looking for a way to recover his creativity, re-shapes again itself into a budding bromance as he builds a relationship with a neighbour, re-shapes itself again to become a David Lynch style mystery with portals and dwarves etc., and then re-shapes yet again to become the story of a father and his daughter (or, maybe, two fathers and their two daughters). It would be tempting to back out as the story seems to spiral out of control, but Murakami has a different solution: he just keeps writing until everything gets to a point where the book tells him it is done (this is a repeating theme through the novel as the protagonist listens to his paintings that tell him when to stop working on them even if they are not finished). This does not mean that everything is tied up neatly at the end, however.A lot of this novel appears to be about the relationship between an artist and his work. Its unnamed protagonist is a painter, but it also applies to a novelist and his books and it feels at times as though Murakami is reviewing his past works and exploring how he and they have interacted, what influence they have had on one another (he definitely sees it as a two-way street). For our protagonist, it all starts, as I’ve already mentioned, when his marriage breaks down. He travels for some time and eventually finds himself living in the vacated house of a famous artist where he discovers an unknown painting called Killing Commendatore. This sets in motion a whole series of both normal and bizarre events, always with some hints of the paranormal in the background. For fear of spoilers, I won’t discuss the events that follow, but they include a mysterious man, a very small man who is actually an Idea, a young girl who seems obsessed with the size of her breasts, a trip to a place “somewhere else” and several other things along the way.I have often stopped to wonder why it is that I enjoy reading Murakami as much as I do. On the face of it, I think I should find it disappointing. This novel has the kind of weirdness I associated with David Lynch movies, but it is never unnerving in the way Lynch movies are. The writing style, in English, is fairly matter-of-fact. But I think that what makes it such fun to read is the sense that the author is having such fun writing it. It feels consistently like it could all go very wrong at any point, but after 13 previous novels, the reader learns to trust the author and go along for the ride. You start to share his sense of fun in wondering where the story will go. And I’m not worried by the sense of incompleteness, even after almost 700 pages: this is one topic the novel keeps returning to - a work of art may get to a stage where it refuses to let anything more be done to it even though it is not “complete” and that incompleteness is part of the impact of the thing. This is equally true for both paintings and novels (and probably other works of art, too - I am trying to think how I could incorporate this into my photography which doesn’t lend itself so readily to the idea but feels like it might be an avenue worth exploring with my camera).All this adds up to four stars, mainly driven by the sense of the fun the author had creating the work that somehow transfers itself to the page (I am choosing to ignore the multiple use of "whiskey" that should say "whisky"). There are repeated references during the narrative to viewing things from different angles and near the start of the book there are several chapters that reflect back on what has already happened but from a different perspective, showing new details. It feels like Murakami has an Idea (as mentioned already, an Idea is a character) and is dancing round it, seeing what it has to say from different angles and then joining up the dots. The topic of connectivity is also key to the book, suggesting the author might see more connections than are immediately obvious to the reader, or vice versa.It’s a fascinating book to look back on, which also contributes to the four star rating. I enjoyed it, but probably enjoyed more the thinking afterwards about some of the artistic topics it discusses.PS This is 7 images overlaid on one another (in camera, not in Photoshop). Is it finished? I don't know!
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 (tentatively rounded up)Phew. I feel like I deserve some kind of medal for finishing this bloated tome in just over a week... This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year - I'm a long time Murakami fan, but in recent years I've felt increasingly frustrated with aspects of his latest novels. While I loved 1Q84, I found Men Without Women just boring, and Colourless Tsukuru... almost instantly forgettable. Unfortunately I think Killing Commendatore is destined to join the ranks of the 2.5 (tentatively rounded up)Phew. I feel like I deserve some kind of medal for finishing this bloated tome in just over a week... This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year - I'm a long time Murakami fan, but in recent years I've felt increasingly frustrated with aspects of his latest novels. While I loved 1Q84, I found Men Without Women just boring, and Colourless Tsukuru... almost instantly forgettable. Unfortunately I think Killing Commendatore is destined to join the ranks of the latter two novels.I've seen a "Murakami bingo" card floating around online, and it almost feels like he's parodying himself in this novel. Honestly, this one contains all the Murakami hallmarks: - nameless women who want to have no-strings-attached sex with the (dull) narrator - holes in the ground - wife leaves narrator - references to WW2 - jazz - simple meals - narrator living in solitude - things disappearing - cats - mysterious women (and men) - characters with odd namesI could go on but I'll spare you. Often I find these aspects of Murakami's novels comforting - with his writing you kind of know what you're going to get before you begin - but here it just felt like a rehash of his older, better novels.There were a number of aspects of this one that I found problematic, an issue I've not had with Murakami in the past. Firstly - why do hardly any of the female characters have names? These women are classic Manic Pixie Dream Girls. They say vague, insightful, plot-progressing things to the narrator in exchange for a purely sexual relationship. Secondly, I found the way Murakami describes Mariye (the thirteen year old girl from his art class) incredibly creepy and odd. The narrator bangs on about how beautiful this child is, and almost every time this character comes up some reference is made to her breasts - or lack thereof (references made by her or the narrator). You'd think I was exaggerating, but once I started noticing this I paid closer attention to it and this KEPT HAPPENING. As someone who has been a thirteen year old girl I can confirm that no girl that age would ever have discussed this with some random weird dude who taught her art class. It was just bizarre and disturbing and completely unnecessary. Ok, so Mariye is kind of odd, and a bit of a misfit, but this could have been conveyed differently.Regarding the actual plot, I found myself fully invested and excited to see what was going to happen for the first 45% or so... but the speed was glacial, and I found myself rapidly losing interest after this, and I began skimming the pages. By the time the actual action happens (probably about 65/70% in, if not later) I have to admit I didn't really care anymore.So why did I round this up to 3 stars? I think I am inclined to review Murakami's novels a little more favourably than others and while I did like the story, I just think the book could be halved in length and have been so much better. Like I said, a lot of nothing happens in the middle third of the novel. This part was still readable and I did enjoy being in "Murakami's world" - this would have been a DNF otherwise. The theme of the Nanjing massacre was such an interesting one to choose, I just wish it had been explored in greater depth, perhaps like the historical parts of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.If you haven't read any Murakami before, please don't start here. If you're a big fan and/or completist, this is worth a try - just go in with your expectations lowered a little bit.
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  • T.D. Whittle
    January 1, 1970
    I just finished this last night and am struggling to consider it in its own right, as from the beginning onward it reminded me in so many ways of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which is my favourite of all of Murakami's novels, though this one is inferior in every way to its predecessor.I feel a bit disappointed, overall, as Murakami is my favourite living writer and I always wait with bated breath, like one of his cats at a mousehole, for a new release. However, my reader's loyalty and my grateful I just finished this last night and am struggling to consider it in its own right, as from the beginning onward it reminded me in so many ways of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which is my favourite of all of Murakami's novels, though this one is inferior in every way to its predecessor.I feel a bit disappointed, overall, as Murakami is my favourite living writer and I always wait with bated breath, like one of his cats at a mousehole, for a new release. However, my reader's loyalty and my gratefulness for his writing, overall, leads me to consider that the fault may be in myself rather than in him. (That said, maybe I am just becoming a love-is-blind groupie, as I've been mildly disappointed with his last two novels and am even more so with this one.)A serendipitous moment worthy of the author himself occurred the week I began reading this book, and it will make sense to you only if you've read it yourself. I was out with my husband at a state park deep in the country and came across an empty well, that's been mostly filled in. It's about the same size as the pit in the painter's back garden, roughly ten feet deep and eight or ten feet in diameter. If I were a truly devoted fan, I would have found a way to lower myself into the well, and then asked my husband to cover the top and leave me for an hour, just to see what happened. Alas, our cat was home waiting for us so I could not spare the time.
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