Monday, October 24, 2005

Counting Sheep

Well, I finally did it. It's been well over a year since I started, but I finally finished Haruki Murakami's A Wild Sheep Chase. Now, it certainly didn't take me a full year of reading to finish the book. Did you ever have one of those books that you pick up sporadically, grabbing it every couple of months and reading a chapter or two? Sheep was that book for me. Everytime I was standing in front of my bookcase, looking for something to read before I went to bed, Murakami stared back at me, judging me silently as I pulled out a volume of Terry & the Pirates or my copy of David Sedaris' Naked.

Don't get me wrong, it was a very enjoyable read. It's just that I've found I have to be in precisely the right mood to get into the story of a disatisfied Japanese ad-man who gets drawn into a dream-like search for a mythic sheep with a star-shaped patch on it's back. That's not the type of book you can just plop down and carve through.

What surprised me most, as I neared the end of the book, was how truly creepy the tale had become. Throughout the bulk of the book, the protaganist has an almost clinical detachment from the events unfolding around him. He's not uninterested in what's going on, but it doesn't seem to move him on a personal level, even when his life is being threatened. The last section deals with his isolation at an old house deep in the mountainous Japanese countryside, and both he and the reader start to react more actively to his situation.

I was reading the last 80 pages or so last night while Tam slept next to me, and I actually considered putting it down and finishing it during daylight hours. Which is kind of a sissy move.

So, the book is finished, and I can now slip it back onto the bookshelf with my head held high. The only problem? Right next to it is a copy of Murakami's Dance, Dance, Dance, which has now taken pole position in the "you need to finish me" sweepstakes.



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