One good thing fans of Haruki Murakami must really like is the worldwide bestselling author never really slows down or takes a break, but just keeps on writing and writing and writing. The other good thing is the two men who have translated all of his work – Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen – also like translating his work and continue to do so, and Knopf continues to publish his work. So generally readers can expect a new book of some sort every two to three years.
Murakami’s latest volume, Men Without Women, is a collection of seven short stories that all have a similar sense and feel – a vibe if you will. They all deal – as do most of Murakami’s works – with relationships between men and women and how varied and unique they can be.
“Drive My Car” is a story about a man who due to a case of glaucoma and a DUI must be driven around by a female chauffeur who is enigmatic in her own way, as he relates stories about his life as an actor and his wife’s extramarital affairs. In “Yesterday,” Kitaru wants his friend Tanimura to go on a date with Kitru’s girlfriend to learn more about this woman. “An Independent Organ” is a story about a man who has never fallen in love, but seeks out married and committed women for relationships, until he finally does fall in love. The “Scheherazade” of the next story is a woman sleeping with a man who never leaves his room, and each time after having sex relates an unusual tale. “Kino” is a man who after being cheated on, leaves his wife and opens up a bar and meets some interesting people, and a cat. “Samsa in Love” is a twist on Kaftka’s The Metamorphosis where the cockroach wakes up as a man. In the final tale, “Men Without Women,” an unnamed narrator relates stories of a woman he cared deeply for.
Each story in this collections rings true for classic Murakami. Fans will be happy; new readers will enjoy this first foray into the author’s works. Men Without Men is both engaging and delightful.
Originally written on July 23, 2017 ©Alex C. Telander.
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