Melody
ISBN-10: 0099448777
Publisher: Vintage Books
Published: 2003
299 pgs
Translator: Alfred Birnbaum


It all begins when a young advertising executive (whose name is never revealed throughout the whole story but based on a first person narrative) receives a postcard from a friend. It is a snapshot of a herd of sheep but amid of these sheep there is one unique breed with a star on its back. He had used this shot as an illustration onto a newsletter for a company and it seems it has captured someone else's attention.
That someone is a mysterious person dressed in black who refuses to indulge to his questions but gave him a time limit to track that one particular special sheep or else he would face a consequence (meaning he would lose everything).

The narrator and his wife had divorced some time back and it is not like he is committed to anything, moreover his life is a blah but he get acquainted with a girl with a pair of beautiful ears (in fact he is obsessed with them). You will find out more about his acquaintance with the girl though but this is not the main issue of the story (which it led me into believing it in the beginning).

The girl encouraged him to this wild sheep chase, not that he has a choice to begin with. And thus, the narrator begins his quest which takes him from the urban Tokyo to the remote, snowy mountains of northern Japan. From there the story takes on like a detective story as the narrator will have to find all means and he will meet some strange people (a Sheep Man who wore a full sheepskin costume and speak with a rush) and some unexplainable events that will throw you offguard.

To tell you honestly, I was a little confused with the story in the beginning and it took me a while to get into it. In Haruki Murakami's style, there is always something extraordinary about his stories that make his readers get sucked into them. And then, there is something beautiful about his writing that made me forget about the confusion in a while and be drawn into it. The more I read it, the more I am drawn to the narrator's chaotic world (never mind if it is all caused by a sheep or dreams and hallucinations are parts of it). At times, it read like a mythology but yet it seems more like a mystery especially towards the middle half of the story. To me, these two are enough to make me get sucked into this wild adventure.

I will leave you with some passages about the sheep (whether or not if they are true, I do not know) that had me chuckling :
"Do sheeps quarrel?" asked my girlfriend.
"You bet they quarrel," said the caretaker. "It's the same with any animal that goes around in groups. Each and every sheep has a pecking order in the sheep society. If there's fifty sheep in a pen, then there's number one sheep right down to number fifty sheep. And each one knows exactly where it belongs."
"But if they all know their place, why should they fight?"
"Say one sheep gets hurt and loses its strength, its position becomes unstable. So the sheep under it get feisty and try for better position. When that happens, they're at it for three days. The sheep that gets the boot, when it was young, gave some other sheep the boot, after all. And when it all comes down to the butcher block, there's no number one or number fifty. Just one happy barbecue."

"When you're raising sheep, the most important thing you got to keep an eye on is mating. So you keep 'em separate, the males with the males, the females with the females. Generally, it's the strongest number one male. In other words, you're serving up the best seed. After a month, when all the business is done, this stud ram gets returned to the males-only pen. But during the time the stud's been busy, the other males have worked out a new pecking order. And there' s no way he can win a fight. So all the other males gang up on him. Now that's a sad story."
"How do sheep fight?"
"They bump heads. Sheep foreheads are hard as steel and all hollow inside."
15 Responses
  1. Ladytink_534 Says:

    It does sound a little confusing but I'm glad you enjoyed it!


  2. mari Says:

    Sounds interesting. I have not read anything by Haruki Murakami but maybe one day. Thanks for the review. :)


  3. violetcrush Says:

    looks like you are on a Murakami roll. I loved the Teaser tuesday you had for this book. Sounds really good. I have got to read one of his books someday. I know, I know i keep saying it, but I will :)


  4. Melody Says:

    Jen - It can be confusing at times but I thought the premise sounds intriguing though. I'm glad I did enjoy it towards the end.

    Mari - I hope you'll read this author one day soon. I've read two books by him so far and I'm captivated by his beautiful writing.

    Violet - It sure looks that way, haha. I've a few of his books in my pile as well but I'm not reading them any time soon. Will have a short Murakami break. ;P(Well, who knows if I might change my mind?!) LOL.


  5. Nymeth Says:

    This sounds so very Murakami :D And I mean this in the best possible way, of course.


  6. Sandy Nawrot Says:

    The premise sounds pretty wacky, but I am told that is typical for the author (who I've yet to read!). You have to give the guy some credit for creativity!


  7. Jeane Says:

    This sounds very strange but interesting. Would you say it falls under the category of magical realism?


  8. Melody Says:

    Nymeth - I like Murakami's style of writing. Very unique IMO. ;)

    Sandy - Yeah, both wacky and bizarre but I enjoyed it.

    Jeane - Well, I wouldn't say it belongs to that category. It sounds magical but it doesn't have anything to do with magic or fantasy actually. It's more or less connects to myths, beliefs and stuff like that.


  9. Alice Teh Says:

    Ah-hah! This sounds like typical Murakami. :)


  10. Trish Says:

    Confusion? Sounds exactly how I felt during Kafka on the Shore. This one sounds really great, though, and I'm dying to try more Murakami. I haven't heard of this one, but I'll have to watch out for it.


  11. Melody Says:

    Alice - I thought so too, hehe.

    Trish - Oh, I've Kafka on the Shore in my pile, and I'm looking forward to reading that one! I heard it's one of his bestsellers.


  12. Julia Says:

    Truly enjoy the passages, Melody! Not sure if this be book I would enjoy reading, but we shall see :)

    Enjoy your review :)


  13. naida Says:

    this does sound like a unique book, I like the sheep passages you quoted :)
    great review!

    http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/


  14. Melody Says:

    Julia - I'm hoping you'll try his books one day! They're intriguing and oh so interesting!

    Naida - I thought those quotes are funny, hehe.


  15. I love Murakami, but I think this is the weakest one of his that I've read. I still enjoyed it, but the ending was a bit too 'normal' - I'm not sure that's the right word for it - as it wasn't normal - it was really weird, but it didn't feel as though it was other-worldly, as it does in his other books. It was as if the characters didn't really belong there - sorry I'm waffling - do you have any idea what I'm trying to say!!?