28 Down, 24 Left (52 Weeks, 52 Books)

Halfway into the surreal dreamscape that is Haruki Murakami’s Dance Dance Dance, I realise that Murakami is really Franz Kafka reincarnated in Japan with a love for pop culture and wickedly bizarre sense of humour. Amid terrifying plunges into an unknowable abyss, high-class callgirl murders and visions of skeletons in still-life, Murakami meticulously tells us exactly what is playing as soundtrack, from classic American jazz to Boy George.

Apparently a sequel to the earlier A Wild Sheep Chase, the nameless narrator lives a mundane existence as a freelance writer (shoveling cultural snow, as he puts it). Alone, divorced and generally lackadaisical, he’s slowly drawn to the dilapidated Dolphin Hotel, where he once lived with the mysterious, now-disappeared Kiki. He arrives to find an entirely new hotel in its place, re-christened the l’Hotel Dauphin. He finds the Sheep Man in a vision – a Yoda-esque character with accompanying speech impediment – and is sent on his way with the sage words, ‘you gotta dance’.

Along the way, our hapless narrator stumbles out of his ennui with the help of a shifting cast of unlikely players – his high school classmate now turned whitebread movie star, his female teenage psychic soulmate obsessed with 80s new wave, her glamourous but clueless parents and the bespectacled hotel receptionist with an unfortunate tendency to skip through dimensions.

Unhurriedly paced but headlong irresistible, Dance Dance Dance is a genre-defying trip about looking into the unknown and giving into the flow of an absurd reality. Yes, it’s one of those finding-yourself journeys, but I’ve not read one as deliciously off-the-wall as this. As another reviewer put it best, ‘this is a novel that is not plotted, but choreographed’. Dance Dance Dance is simultaneously strange and familiar, and compelling like nobody’s business. Haruki Murakami is definitely on my ‘Read Everything by Him/Her’ list now.

Dance Dance Dance
(ISBN No: 0679753796) Check NLB Catalogue for item availability.

My next book will be William S. Burrough’s Naked Lunch.


8 Responses to “28 Down, 24 Left (52 Weeks, 52 Books)”

  1. 1 avalon July 15, 2006 at 14:52

    I’m so glad you like it! You know, Dance is one of the novels by Murakami that I haven’t read, largely because I didn’t really enjoy Wild Sheep Chase that much. But regardless, he is still a good writer.

  2. 2 avalon July 15, 2006 at 14:53

    PS. your banner pic is damn nice. where from?

  3. 3 billy July 15, 2006 at 15:30

    took the picture myself while on holiday in Bangkok. quite a dingy hotel, but no sheep men, thankfully.

  4. 4 Lounge Lizard July 17, 2006 at 17:07

    Can lend me or not? Hurhur…

  5. 5 billy July 17, 2006 at 18:01

    library book da, dey.

  6. 6 Lounge Lizard July 19, 2006 at 2:29

    Where you borrow wan? I always visit Orchard Library but like not a lotch of stuff leh.

  7. 7 billy July 19, 2006 at 19:52

    anywhere also goot. can find shit if u look hard enough. but i do recommend NLB main branch at bugis, orchard and woodlands. the one nearest your house also not bad, jurong east got goot shite.

  8. 8 Lounge Lizard July 21, 2006 at 3:13

    Issit? But got nice chicks hanging out there or not?

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