Monday, July 24, 2017

Men Without Women

That’s what it’s like to lose a woman. And at a certain time, losing one woman means losing all women. That’s how we become Men Without Women.

The unpredictability of this author is mesmerizing. He begins without any pretext. So much so that the book does not have the usual long and irrelevant waste of pages known as the foreword. Before you know it, the setting is in place. You are already familiar with the characters. Or the central character at least. Which is almost without exception a lonely middle-aged man. The story moves at a brisk pace as you become intimate with the life of that lonely man and his thoughts. And then suddenly, as you turn a page, the story ends. But not before a twist which is delivered more often than not in a single line. A change of perspective or a change of heart.

I generally do not look at the foreword or chapter index of a book but head straight to the first page. So, I had no idea that this book is a collection of six stories. I was almost heart broken when the first story ended. I had wished to be with those characters for a little longer.

Perhaps that is why I liked the first story the most. First love, as they say, can never be surpassed.

As with most people who are well raised, well educated, and financial secure, Dr. Tokai only thought of himself.

Murakami has a beautiful way of building his characters. Though there is a common theme to these characters, each is very different and deep. There is no repetition or overlap. But there is always a dark, restless side to them. Sometimes it is so intense that it is incomprehensible, at least to me.

To be honest, not all stories were that great. But just like music, you don't care for the average. In the end you only care if there was a high point somewhere which made it all worthwhile. Some of the stories will stay with you and some won’t. As one of his characters says, remembering someone for a long time is not as easy as people think.

[This is part of a series of book reviews I am doing for Flipkart]



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