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South of the Border, West of the Sun: A Novel Paperback – March 14, 2000
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"The Boy and the Beast"
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When I went back into the bar, a glass and ashtray remained where she had been. A couple of lightly crushed cigarette butts were lined up in the ashtray, a faint trace of lipstick on each. I sat down and closed my eyes. Echoes of music faded away, leaving me alone. In that gentle darkness, the rain continued to fall without a sound.Murakami eschews the fantastic elements that appear in many of his other novels and stories, and readers hoping for a glimpse of the Sheep Man will be disappointed. Yet South of the Border, West of the Sun is as rich and mysterious as anything he has written. It is above all a complex, moving, and honest meditation on the nature of love, distilled into a work with the crystal clarity of a short story. A Nat "King" Cole song, a figure on a crowded street, a face pressed against a car window, a handful of ashes drifting down a river to the sea are woven together into a story that refuses to arrive at a simple conclusion. The classic love triangle may seem like a hackneyed theme for a writer as talented as Murakami, but in his quietly dazzling way, he bends us to his own unique geometry. --Simon Leake --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
"Sputnik Sweetheart" I am hooked on to everything he
writes. I do not know what he does to me but everytime
I read what he writes - its like a tidal wave lashing
over me and I cannot help it. I love the feeling. I
cherish it for a long long time. South o the Border
begins with a 37-year old narrator Hajimme - the owner
of an upswanky jaz bar in Japan talking about his life
- from where it began to where it is.
A Japanese love story; indeed, a Japanese Casablanca:
it doesn't sound too promising, does it? But ignore
the blurb - they've got to get people to pick it up
after all - and dip a toe into the world of Haruki
Murakami. This is, perhaps, the perfect place to start
for newcomers - no wells; no sheep; no slightly
off-kilter worlds, just a simple, if morally complex
story exquisitely told. It's the prose stye (insert
here a discourse on the art of translation, but the
voice is Murakami) which will seduce you, not the
narrator - he is morally ambivalent, and not in a good
way. In the hands of such an accomplished writer,
however, one is easily drawn in to Hajime's world.
Hajime would like to be a good man, but he has
impulses; impulses which cause him to damage those he
loves. The simple tale revolves around his childhood
sweetheart finding him and endangering everything he's
worked for. So far, so predictable; but the way in
which Murakami teases out Hajime's character, and
faces up to the moral dilemmas without judging his
motives - they are simply laid out for us to observe -
produces a true feeling of uncertainty in the reader,
and compels you through the story wishing that both
outcomes were possible. A cunningly crafted tale,
carried off with thoughtful aplomb, and the ideal
jumping-off point for further exploration of this most
intriguing of authors.
This story is about a middle-age man who in his teenage years finds and then loses the girl, only to meet her again years later. During these years he has hurted a lot of people, including himself. Now, happily married, settled and being a succesfull businessman, it's time to set things straight. Or not? When the woman he once loved (and still loves) enters his bar, things are beginning to change. Will he sacrifice everything for this woman, including his beloved wife and daugthers?
Unlike Dance, Dance, Dance or The Wind Up, this story is more down to earth. Nobody is perfect. Even if you live a happy married life. Unconditionally love doesn't exist, even when you know who you're true love is. Questions always remain and people have to accept this fact. Again Murakami succeeds in letting the readers to think and reconsider again what "life", "love" or "marriage" mean. The answers on these questions remain vague. But isn't that what is all about?
"South of the Border, West of the Sun" shares some common elements with the other Murakami fiction ("Sputnik Sweetheart", "After the Quake", "Hard-boiled Wonderland", and "The Windup Bird Chronicle") I've read so far: Self-centered men, elusive women, mysterious events. But this novel, less otherworldly than his other works, is a realistic portrayal of a failed romance. And the setting, social structure, and mores are very Japanese, in spite of the Western pop cultural content.
I have the impression that the novel is autobiographical, but whether or not that is true, Murakami conveys the emotional upheavel of a passionate extra-marital affair with great precision and insight, in spite of the barriers imposed by culture and language.
Philip Gabriel has done an excellent job with the translation. There were a couple of instances where I thought he might have made a better choice of language, but they were so minor that I didn't bother to note them. We always know we are reading a story about Japanese people, occuring in Japan, but they are real people and they speak a language we can understand. The translator seems to have erected no barriers between them and us, which is a remarkable accomplishment, given the differences between the Japanese and English languages.
"South of the Border, West of the Sun" lacks the weirdness and fantasy of Murakami's more recent novels, and will disappoint readers who like that aspect of Murakami's work, and who don't like adult love stories. But this novel easily stands comparison with the best of modern American fiction.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Murakami is one of my favorite authors, so it comes to no surprise that I would love this novel. I admit that while this isn't one of his best works, it is still a great read and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Stephanie
It has this classic unexplainable style that many Japanese works throughout books and movies contain. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Ben
Imagery is superb, the words draw you into a boys coming of age story of love, loss and hope! SundayKindaRead...Published 4 months ago
With the completion of South of the Border, West of the Sun, by Haruki Murakami, I have read everything in the fiction realm that Murakami has written that has been translated into... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Stan Prager
This wasn't my favorite Murakami book, but definitely not my least. If you're a fan of his work, it's worth the read. Read morePublished 5 months ago by kiki