Dance Dance Dance.
So the other day I told Sonika I was having “Restless Book Syndrome,” which mostly meant I had started a few books but not really delved into any one of them. She suggested that perhaps I was having “Sucky Book Syndrome,” but I knew that couldn’t be true because one of the books I’d begun was Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami, the sequel to A Wild Sheep Chase. Sure enough, by late last week I was hooked and last night I couldn’t put the book down.
Murakami’s books are those that don’t really need a sequel, but could easily all have one. Bring back the narrator, to whom odd things happen, who likes to make his pasta al dente. He should be mildly clueless about his life. Introduce new characters, and slowly reveal more about them. Narrator eventually has a light bulb go off about the events of the past 400 pages and everything makes sense. Or not.
It sounds boring, and in anyone else’s hands it could be, yet Murakami’s novels are anything but. His stories require patience, but the writing keeps you going, and I always feel well rewarded. My point is that you REALLY don’t need to have read A Wild Sheep Chase to read Dance Dance Dance, and while I enjoyed the first, I felt connected to the second and will definitely reread it.
In some ways, this book felt more personal to Murakami for reasons I couldn’t quite explain, and then when I looked up the book, I found this statement on the ever-trusty Wikipedia: “In 2001, Murakami said that writing Dance Dance Dance had been a healing act after his unexpected fame following the publication of Norwegian Wood and that, because of this, he had enjoyed writing Dance more than any other novel.” Go, go, reader intuition! [Though if you actually want a good Murakami site, I recommend Exorcising Ghosts.]
Part of what I enjoyed the most about this book is I felt like I had a glimpse of the larger ideas Murakami is expressing, a feeling I don’t always have with his books. One of these ideas is about people who disappear and reappear in our lives. In Dance, it’s because the narrator’s former lover, Kiki, is missing but keeps appearing to him in his dreams and visions. He comes to believe that she is calling for him, but he cannot reach her, though he repeatedly watching a movie she has a bit part in and chases down a girl who looks like her in Hawaii. It’s clear that whether Kiki is dead, alive, or in a parallel universe doesn’t really matter; it’s the fact that she is quite present in the narrator’s life without actually being physically present any longer. As such, it’s a good book for everyone who has ever become slightly obsessed, however briefly, with thoughts of an old relationship.
You’ll realize I never really got to what the book was about, and that will make perfect sense if you’ve ever read Murakami. If you haven’t, Dance Dance Dance is a fine place to begin.