This is the fourth Haruki Murakami novel I’ve read. I’ll rank it 2nd, behind Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World only because I like the more cyberpunk narrative of HB. A Wild Sheep Chase is full of the mystical, detective elements that Murakami is famous for. And, I was glad to see the Sheep Man again, who is in Dance, Dance, Dance (1988). NOW I understand a little bit more about who the Sheep Man is, though it’s still not entirely clear.
I love it when I read something AFTER that helps me understand something I’ve already read. I have the same sentiment about Arthur C. Clarke’s novel, 2001: A Space Odyssey because I read it after watching Kubrick’s film and the novel (and the rest of the quadrilogy of books) helps make the final scenes of the film make a lot more sense.
I will honestly say that I didn’t realize A Wild Sheep Chase was part of a trilogy before I read it, but apparently the first two of the series are hard to find and maybe not even translated into English or something. That’s okay.
Once the protagonist finds his way to the Rat’s country house, I think we have Murakami at his finest: isolation, mysticism, trust in friendship. Sometimes Murakami puts his characters in holes to exemplify the isolation, but in this case, it was a pastoral scene with no one for miles and an harsh and isolating impending winter to attempt to escape from before it was too late.
I’m interested in Murakami because, like some of my other favorite writers, he writes about regular people with regular problems that somehow turn out to be connected to otherworldly things. Muriel Spark frequently does this and it is one of her most endearing qualities as a writer, besides all the blackmail she writes about.
I think I will have to read the rest of Murakami’s translated literature before I will ever come to a determination about what his cryptic endings mean. I have struggled with the same with Muriel Spark, and keep coming back for more too. There are worse things to spend time doing.
As a side note, I wrote about this novel in relation to Twin Peaks on my film blog.