Comments (14)Add a Comment
My favorite Murakami stories evoke a feeling of weirdness running in parallel with the ordinary. He often leaves out explanations - why is one character a shut in? what's happened to another one's family? - frustrating readers looking for ways into the psychology of the characters to make sense of the story. These are melancholy stories of loss with a chilly, stoical air. I'd love to read a novella-length version of KINO!
Part of former US President, Barack Obama's summer reading list for 2019.
Huruki Murakami is one of my favorite living authors, but I generally prefer his novels to his short stories. They feel a bit slight, as if he's just trying out plots or ideas, but not particularly concerned with the outcome. Still, anything he writes is worth reading. He borrowed the title from Hemingway.
I feel like Murakami is at his best in the short story format. He has several collections out and they are all great, including this one. On the other hand his recent novels are meandering and he doesn't seem to be able to bring them to a satisfying close. It might be a pacing thing. I also like how the short stories often leave you wondering 'what happened afterwards?' or 'what is it really about'. Perhaps less is more.
I found it a bit earnest and rather sad. Not really my cup of tea as they say.
As a reader, I have a tough relationship with Murakami. On the one hand, I love his prose and find his voice mesmerizing. On the other hand, his stories often leave me a tad cold with their loose, sort of postmodern narrative skeletons. Yet, because his prose is so enthralling, I find myself coming back time and time again, just wanting to know how he will word something.
Men Without Women is a collection of short stories, running the gamut of Murakami's range. At times they are Kafkaesque, quite literally too, and at times they read more like his stream of conscious non-fiction. Yet there is a connecting tissue among all these stories: eventually all men become Men Without Women, and losing the women in our lives removes a piece of us which is integral to who we are.
The stories are of varying quality, yet all are written in that staple Murakami voice that leaves you clamoring and hungry for more. Even when a sentence doesn't quite make sense, it fits within the overall context, adding rhythm and beauty to the passage. For this, a great debt is owed to the translators, who have done a wonderful job of rendering a consistent voice for this Japanese author. Yet calling Murakami a Japanese author missing so much of what he is, because ultimately he is an author writing about universal feelings. This is true of any author of course, yet in a special way Murakami's writings seem to transcend the Land of the Rising Sun and make sense to us all.
The reason, perhaps, is because we all eventually become Men Without Women, and even if we don't know it, the fear of the possibility rests within us. To be Men Without Women is to lose a large portion of what makes you who you are. Murakami, in a very strange way, cuts to the core of this.
Have to admit this author makes me feel like I'm a character in the original "Blade Runner" movie. The tone of his writing, the characters, the cold male-dominate narration, the way everything unfolds is so futuristic and yet so sad and lonely and just not anything I can get into being female. Yet I continue to try because it's a style and it's the best style, so I'm told by men who tell me it's the best style.
This is the fifth book I've read of his and I've only been able to complete two or three. This one I couldn't finish, either. I read the title story and half of the rest. What is there to learn, to know, to understand, to relate to men who are basically spoiled brats? Is it a new epiphany that men without women are often lost? Are wanting connection they are incapable of figuring out how to get? Are worth reading about except for some schadenfreude way?
If you like the cold, male-dominated, futuristic, harsh, steely world of Blade Runner, this is for you. Otherwise, I have to go find a Rebecca Solnit book to clear my head right now.
Enjoyed this read. The different stories have various perspectives and content, with similar themes. Recommend to those that would desire a diversity of short stories that are easy to read and are thought-provoking.
Five stars for the stunningly simple but evocative cover art: a single puzzle piece representing the heart removed from the male silhouette, symbolic of the theme that runs through the book’s short stories of isolation in many forms: physical, emotional, spiritual, and sexual. Murakami has a gift for quickly drawing the reader into each tale and developing a sense of intimacy with his characters. The title is "Men Without Women” and the stories are told from a male perspective, but it is clear that both sexes need each other. One ponders their meaning afterward and how we connect, or not, to the people in our lives.
Let's just cut to the chase here, I love Murakami's writing. I have bought the book. This is not an unbiased review. Just seven brilliant short stories. But if you like writing that is both restrained and vivid, this one is for you.
Short stories of middle-age men experiencing angst because of the women absent from their lives and/or the women who intersect their lonely lives. All of the stories have something meaningful to offer, but I would argue three of the short stories are outstanding: "Scheherazade" and the last two stories. The penultimate story references and reinterprets Kafka's "Metamorphosis".
I could not put this book down once I started reading it. It is beautifully written with subtle imagery and ideas of what men do without woman. Most stories end in tragedy but it brings a nice outlook of feeling of love,loss, and confusion as well soul finding. Highly recommend this book.