“Dance Dance Dance” by Haruki Murakami
(First publication: 1988 (Japanese) / This edition: Vintage Books 2003)
Taken with calming houjicha and sakura mochi at the Peace Oriental Tea House
I’ll always like you. That has nothing to do with time. (pg.366)
I finished this book a few days ago. For some reason, I had this strong urge one day to read another Murakami. “Dance Dance Dance” had been on my mind for a while. Three friends have recommended it, saying it was their favorite Murakami. I was quite skeptical about him (“Norwegian Wood”, ugh.) but “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” got me to change my mind (to an extent, at least).
I dove in, predicting that I would be reading about: a troubled middle-aged man with some confusion of dream and reality and he likes to be alone + a troubled teenage girl that the man (protagonist) ends up spending all his time with + lots of sex (and detailed description) + dreams about sex + a psychic + missing people + people committing suicide + murders + confused and “lost” women + prostitutes.
I was 100% correct.
I’ve read three Murakami’s before this and they all pretty much had this same “format”. The stories are somewhat similar and the characters have the same traits. The protagonist feels a “connection” to this lost prostitute and he’s trying to find her and find why. During his mission to find her, he meets a psychic thirteen-year-old with social issues (along with her selfish, helpless mother and a married guy she just likes to have around), an uptight but cute and sexy hotel receptionist, a bored-of-life-but-loves-his-wife fancy schmancy actor, and a rich golf-obsessed “Hiraku Makimura”. Oh, and several more prostitutes that he ends up sleeping with. And then he gets confused between the dream world and reality, and then you (the reader) get confused about what the hell is actually going on—and you finish the book still not 100% sure about what happened. Like I said, very predictable “Murakami-format”.
By the way, I didn’t realize til just a minute ago though that this is a sequel and I should’ve read “A Wild Sheep Chase” first. (whoops.) No wonder I was confused about who “The Sheep Man” was and why the hell is there a “Sheep Man”, where did he come from, how is he relevant, why the ef is he wearing a sheep skin, what is actually under the sheep skin, why does he appear at weird places, is he human, what did he do, why is there such a random character, why a sheep and not a goat, why does he speak weird, why is he in touch with the protagonist. (*rant*)
But anyway, in spite of all that, I actually really enjoyed “Dance Dance Dance”. I found myself so absorbed in it and always had difficulty putting the book down—I was curious and constantly at the edge of my seat. I would read late into the night (hence the panda eyes) and would end up being too scared to turn off the lights. Though it was “predictable”, I found this one to be the most exciting and thrilling out of all the previous I read. I think it’s because this protagonist got on my nerves the least compared to the ones in previous books. I didn’t particularly liked him or anything, but just found him to be more tolerable—less pessimistic, unreasonable, and annoying.
My favorite character in this book would have to be Yuki, the thirteen-year-old girl, though. She is like your typical Avril-Lavigne-back-in-her-prime teenager, but with unclear psychic powers. Her parents are divorced and both don’t make time for her. Both don’t really know how to parent and don’t pay attention to her, leaving her to spend most of her time alone, secluded in her thoughts and her rock music. I guess I kind of empathized with her and I wanted to know what would happen to her. I felt sorry for her. She was the highlight of the book.
I really enjoyed this one (even though I don’t understand it completely—but I enjoyed the thrill it gave me), and now I can’t wait to read “The Wild Sheep Chase” to understand what the hell all that “Sheep Man” thing was about.
Here are my favorite lines from the book:
Gazing at the rain, I consider what it means to belong, to become part of something. To have someone cry for me. From someplace distant, so very distant. From, ultimately, a dream. No matter how far I reach out, no matter how fast I run, I’ll never make it.
Why would anyone want to cry for me? (pg.5)
Instead of regretting what you did, you could have treated him decently from the beginning. You could’ve tried to be fair. But you didn’t. You don’t even have the right to be sorry. (pg.311)
Now that you’re not young anymore, do you still fall in love? (pg.112)