My year of Murakami continues with Sputnik Sweetheart, a brooding and disturbing book about connection and isolation, what kind of pants people are wearing, and writing. While it’s not my favorite Murakami work, it’s still more gripping and provocative than most of the fifty-something books I’ve read this year. All of his books either change my worldview or spur me towards my own creative pursuits. That’s good art.
Sputnik‘s protagonist is the typical Murakamian narrator. Male. Enjoys alcohol and thinking, does ok with the ladies, interested in swimming and music. I point that out because it may be a turnoff to some readers to have that POV. Personally, I’m interested in reading about the kinds of questions and issues that Murakami likes to write about.
The protagonist, K, is a teacher in his mid-20s. He only has one friend, Sumire. Sumire is a 22-year-old nocturnal writer. She chainsmokes and writes and writes. It’s her compulsion and passion. There may or may not be unrequited love. Unfortunately for K, Sumire takes off of an international tour of sensual pleasure – good food, great wine, swimming in fanciest bodies of water. When she disappears, though, a stranger reachers out to K to help figure out what happened.
That’s the furniture in the room. As is usually the case with Murakami, the plot isn’t as important as the atmosphere and the inner world of the characters. Everything is ambiguous and open. For me, the book was about what happens when we’re not true to ourselves. Conformity is a common thread throughout the author’s books, so I don’t think I’m that far off. The dream-like world and the writing are what keep me coming back to this guy. I’ll keep grabbing whatever’s available at the library!