67. Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami is the one author who I literally don’t get and usually feel confused when I’m done reading his books. The world loves and praise his work, while devouring each word he writes yet his “magic” baffles me. The curious case of Haruki Murakami may be broken one day, but for now you can read up on the review second book I’ve tried and it wasn’t a miss. Well, not entirely though.

Men Without Women is a collection of 7 stories with the main focus on relationships between – you guessed it – men and women. Where the heart broken and bruised male part of the equation is left behind. It’s sort of a journey of hurting and losing, healing and discovering. I have a few favourites who’s plots I have described below:

  1. Drive My Car:

The story begins with a famous actor who needs a chauffeur due to some health issues and his mechanic recommends a 24 year old girl for the job. Driving him around various sets/work commitments the actor is intriguied by her lack of indulgence – often prone to individuals her age – and professionalism. Soon he opens up to her about his marriage, the death of his wife, her affairs, and his way of coping, all the while being driven from one place to another.

  1. Yesterday
  2. An Independent Organ:

A cosmetic surgeon who never commits to a long term stable relationship and has a long list of affairs suddenly falls for a patient who is already married. Told from the point of view of his friend who the doctor meets for squash and gym sessions, he describes how the carefree and gypsy like existence of his friend comes to an end when he finally falls in love, only to not have it reciprocated. In the end he sees him die at the hands of love, he resisted for many years.

  1. Scheherazade
  2. Kino:

After going through a divorce with his cheating wife, Kino opens up a bar at his aunt’s old place.Finding a new purpose after resigning from his old job with his business that doesn’t take off in the beginning with only a cat and a peculiar guy as his only customer. Slowly his bar gains momentum and he finds himself meeting all sort of people including occasional drunkards who are ready for a fight. One day finding himself in a brawl, the peculiar guy who always orders whisky helps resolve a fight and gives off a weird recommendation to close the bar and go travelling. He ends up taking his advice and one night in a hotel room he realizes how dark his life had become since he didn’t come to terms with his wife’s deceit and apology.

  1. Samsa in Love
  2. Men Without Women

These 3 stories were my absolute favourite and I really loved this book.

It was so interesting and remarkable to see the perspective of love and deceit from the eyes of the opposite sex that it felt completely unique. All those scenarios in which the men reminisced, observed, felt, responded, and acted out for a feeling that can be interchanged with revenge, hate, anger, nostalgia and remorse, is beautiful. I get now, how Murakami hits the heartstrings of his readers. It isn’t complex plots, exaggerated characters or outlandish settings, it’s just normal everyday humans. And cats. Add in cats and you have me sold, just not with wonky plots.

Onto the basics:

  1. Rating: 4.0/5.0
  2. Favorite quote:  “Once you become Men Without Women, loneliness seeps deep down inside your body, like a red-wine stain on a pastel carpet.
  3. Reader level: Easy.
  4. Should you read:  May not be everyone’s cup of tea.
  5. Would I read it again: I might. I might not.

Till next time,

-Sarah

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