Title: Men Without Women
Author: Haruki Murakami
Publisher: Bond Street Books
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Genre: Short Story, Adult Contemporary
Rating: 5 Stars
Dear fellow Babblers,
Another masterpiece from the artful clever Haruki Murakami. Before reading Men Without Women I read Norwegian Wood (my review can be found here). I had just come back from a long non-blogging hiatus and I was frightfully anxious to begin writing reviews again. However, having not written in a while, I felt that I lost much of my imagination and inspiration for writing. I mean, book reviews doesn’t take the strenuous amount of creativity and strength that novel or short story writing requires but there’s still a lot of thought that goes into the process. With this in mind, I really wanted to ease my way back in with an author I already knew and have never felt let down by. Murakami is that author for me. Norwegian Wood carried me away and made me feel as though all the thoughts, troubles, feelings that I had in the past few months were basic nothingness. Like all feelings of euphoria, I wanted to feel this way again. I initially told myself that after writing my review for Norwegian Wood I would get serious and start on my list of author requests and ARCs but here I am writing this long beat-around-the-bush explanation just to say I did no such thing. I picked up more Murakami. This time I’m here with an eccentric collection of contemporary short stories, Men Without Women.
A dazzling new collection of short stories–the first major new work of fiction from the beloved, internationally acclaimed, Haruki Murakami since his #1 best-selling Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.
Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles, woven together to tell stories that speak to us all.
Marked by the same wry humor that has defined his entire body of work, in this collection Murakami has crafted another contemporary classic.
Murakami, as much a short story writer as a novelist mesmerizes the reader through these seven tales of grief and loss, of loving and forgetting, of forgiving and moving forward. Each of these seven gripping tales encompasses around an often lonely male narrator and how women have affected their lives, more often in a negative sense than positive.
While one man refers to himself as the second loneliest man in the world, another wakes up to find himself enclosed in a strange room with a body he does not recognize as his own and an erection for a girl with a hunched back and smart wit. Each man has his own way of coping with this sorrow. While one finds passing through women, taking a taste here and there to satisfy a sweet pleasure, another opens up a quiet bar behind a museum only to find himself running away further. None of these men ever really do reach a balanced state of happiness and freedom from women; all, in one way or another, find themselves drawn back to, in their minds and hearts, to the source of their suffering: women.
Murakami’s prose is precise and deals delicately with the complex flood of emotions coming out of each of these tales. Sorrow, grief, the struggle of moving forward and the fear of failing to love again are all real and experienced today by everyone. Though tinged with fantasy and mystery at times, Murakami’s account of all of these emotions are realistic and define the struggle that affects many sufferers from leading a healthy and wholesome life after losing a loved one. These tales tell about the fragility of the human soul and how little it takes for someone to break. Murakami’s men are not heroic heroes and the women that these men chase after are not blossoming lilacs. Murakami writes about real humans in their day-to-day lives and how a quick and not-so-big shake can destroy their lives forever. Life never goes as we plan, no matter how well planned and picture perfect we draw it out to be. Everything is temporary and it is not life itself that causes these mens’ souls to waste away but rather what has been done to their souls.
Delving into this collection and expecting simply to read about men without women is too simplistic, especially for a piece of work coming from Murakami. Though the overarching theme is indeed men without women, there is so much more to hidden between each story. Each tale will penetrate deep into the reader as Murakami’s words adopt various tones, evoking a different, yet someone similarly dark mood with each transition. Men Without Women is certainly worth the read. We have all at one point or another felt the tinging and stretching of the heart that results from loss. We have suffered from the longing and loneliness that came along with it. These stories show us that we are not alone and that every now and then, sooner or later, our lives will shift and fall out of place. The outcome will be unexpected and we will lose our balance, but we will also discover something new about ourselves and the world around us.
(Book image credits go to Goodreads)