I first read A Wild Sheep Chase when I was in high school in the ’90s. The novel was bizarre and engaging. The writing was casual and the first-person narrator pulled me in. After reading that novel by Haruki Murakami, I went on a spree reading everything I could find.
Now, after 190+ pages of Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami, I’m calling it quits. His novels have grown repetitive and derivative. The originality that captured my attention in his early work is now just recycled, a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy.
So far in Killing Commendatore, not much has happened. There is a mysterious well, a ringing bell, a mysterious wealthy stranger, and a down-on-his-luck middle-aged man who is the protagonist. I don’t have the time or interest to slog through 500 more pages of re-hashed story. I’d rather read the Wikipedia entry instead.
So what makes Murakami so repetitive?
- First-person, middle-aged male narrator who is “between things” somehow, like he lost his job or his girlfriend/wife left him, or both. Sort of a blank, normal guy.
- A well or some empty vessel (said vessel may be a person).
- Swimming as a hobby.
- Enjoys spaghetti.
- There will be a woman with some imperfection or flaw that the man will love or find endearing.
- More cats.
- Something weird happens.
- Narrator reacts to weird thing and is an entryway for the reader into a world where weird things happen.
- Jazz or the Beatles will be referenced.
- More cats this time eating spaghetti.
At this point, I’m off to find my next great read. If you’re looking for a wonderful book that takes place in Japan, I recommend Pachinko.
Do you have any writers that you enjoyed but then found their work became stale and repetitive?