Reviewed by Sarah C.
By Haruki Murakami
704 pp. Knopf.
I’ve read five novels from Murakami. Each novel is a journey. I wanted to call it an adventure, but the word journey was better suited because of the introspection accompanying the experience.
In Killing Commendatore, the life and thoughts of a recently separated 36-year old painter were opened to us. And just like most Murakami novels, the events after this trigger event will take you down a rabbit hole.
An old painter with dementia, a rich mysterious neighbor, a missing girl, and an uncapturable Idea will all take you to the surreal real world of Murakami. Sometimes I felt like the characters are living inside a Salvador Dali painting where everything is either expanding or contracting into a mishmash of images.
Even the narrator was aware of this, “what should have been a fixed yardstick inside the framework of my memory seemed instead to be in a perpetual motion.”
There was also the juxtaposition of abstract art vis-a-vis realistic (portrait) art. How does one capture the essence of the subject? What of memory? What role does it play in our own images and perception of the people around us? These were the questions I also mulled over.
After the separation of the narrator with his wife, he realized how much he doesn’t know her. And how memory (or lack of it) could be the root of his loneliness.
“We’d lived under the same room for six years, yet I knew next to nothing about this woman. In the same way that people stare up at the night sky to see the moon every night yet understand next to nothing about it.”
The novel will make you think about your relationships, the losses you have suffered, the grief you cannot process, and the attendant haze of the succeeding months or years after the event.
At the heart of this novel is the story of how a man coped with his loneliness, unactualized dreams, and nothingness. In the beginning the narrator said, “Maybe someday I’ll be able to draw a portrait of nothingness.”
I believe in the end he somehow had the answer to that. That’s the beauty of Murakami: he won’t tie up everything for you, you have your own journey to make.
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Sarah G. Crespo is a former DLSU and UP Diliman faculty member. She is currently a senior information developer at Infor. She is a chronic daydreamer and an animal lover. Her little dachshund is her primary source of happy pill.
[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]