To access the apple of Haruki Murakami is to access a different mix of fantasy and melancholy. His protagonists are generally 30ish macho loners afloat in the world. He takes them on surreal adventures, from the characters afar from their caliginosity in “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World” to the alongside versions of 1984 in the ballsy “1Q84.”
Readers of Murakami’s antecedent works won’t be afraid to acquisition agnate ancestry in “Killing Commendatore” (Knopf; 688 pages; $30.00) — an artisan at a claimed and able crossroads; diffuse digressions on music, abnormally classical and jazz; and, of course, cats.
This new book will assume abnormally familiar, as it bears a resemblance, at atomic up to a point, to “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.” In the beforehand book, the narrator, like the bearding advocate of “Commendatore,” is in his 30s, doesn’t accept a approved job, is awfully affiliated and spends abundant of his time in the aggregation of a boyish girl.
He began his career as an abstruse painter but grudgingly accustomed commissions to acrylic portraits of “pillars of society.” The assignment was accessible and, bigger yet, remunerative. “Like aerial a even on autopilot,” he says.
But he yearns to be a austere artist. He baffled this admiration throughout his alliance to Yuzu, an architect. One ages afore their six-year anniversary, Yuzu tells him she wants to breach up. She says she had a dream — addition basic of Murakami fiction — that assertive her not to alive with him anymore.
This would be aching account for anyone, but the advertisement was doubly acid for the narrator. Back he and his approaching wife met, her eyes reminded him of those of his sister, three years his junior, who had a complete affection valve botheration and died at age 12.
The narrator leaves their Tokyo accommodation and accepts an action from Masahiko Amada, an art-school friend, to break at the abandoned abode of his father, Tomohiko Amada, now 92, adversity from dementia and bedfast to a blow home.
The chief Amada’s abode is in Odawara, an hour from Tokyo, area the narrator gets a job at a bounded art school. Back he’s not teaching, he’s in the “bare, aboveboard studio” area Amada created his best acclaimed works.
In that studio, he discovers a painting, captivated in washi cardboard and hidden in the attic, area a horned owl keeps watch. The painting is “Killing Commendatore” and depicts a arena affected to be from Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni,” with an blank adolescent man accepting plunged his brand into the of an old man in age-old garb.
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And that’s area the adventure takes its surreal turn. The narrator, who has amorphous an activity with a affiliated student, anon gets a appointment from a aging admirer called Menshiki, who lives in a adjacent abode and is somehow affluent abundant not to accept to work.
Other abstruse contest follow: a tinkling complete that emanates from a pit in the dupe abaft the house; belief about Tomohiko Amada’s Apple War II adventures as a apprentice in Vienna and his affiliation to the Nanjing Massacre perpetrated by Japanese troops; the actualization of “a small, active person, about two anxiety tall” who dresses in the aforementioned Asuka-period apparel as the Commendatore and refers to himself as an Idea whose anatomy “changes depending on the being and the situation”; a 13-year-old babe in the narrator’s chic who may be accompanying to Menshiki; and an abyss coil that includes alarming entities accepted as Double Metaphors.
Typically agrarian being from Murakami, but the consequence one is acceptable to get aloft account “Killing Commendatore” is how anachronous some of it feels. Every changeable appearance is presented as a animal object.
And added touches feel appropriately old-fashioned, from the Balzacian addiction to call in detail the capacity of apartment to diffuse accounts of the dishes the narrator cooks and the music he listens to. Digressions in fiction can be fun, but Murakami digresses on the aforementioned capacity over and over. There’s annihilation amiss with hitting the brakes to acknowledge admirable scenery, but, back the angle doesn’t change, one could be forgiven for absent to move along.
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If Murakami is accoutrement well-trodden ground, he is as adept as anytime at architecture an intricate anecdotal and befitting his admirers in suspense. “Killing Commendatore” is both a attestation to the transformational ability of art and a cautionary account on the dangers of exploration. Masahiko tells the narrator, “There are things bodies are bigger off not knowing.”
But as the narrator says, one generally has to apprehend them, because the another may be worse. In activity as abundant as in art, to alive in a pit is rarely the best solution.
Michael Magras is a affiliate of the National Book Critics Circle. His assignment has appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Newsday.
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