This is probably my 8th or 9th Murakami and I’ve finally come to realize Murakami doesn’t write to please anyone, sometimes it feels like he doesn’t even write to please himself. He writes because he needs to; he needs to free his mind of these thoughts that’ve made a home in his mind. And I have nothing to complain about that, we’re lucky he’s decided to!
This is the first time I took notes and wrote bullet points to refer to when writing the review of the book. This is also the first time I’m deleting them since they will make the review seem mechanical. So free flow it is, dare I say, like Eminem, I’m a Kamikaze.
It’s been more than 10 days since I finished reading Killing Commendatore, I have two reasons for waiting so long to start writing this review. Number one being that sometimes I tend to get a bit excited as soon as I finish a book and end up mostly thinking about the later parts of the book. Second is for everything to sink in and remove all the little random bits like a brain sieve.
This book starts with a very magical Prologue which sets the scene for the book which is followed by a very easy flowing but unique first 200 pages. You can tell things are going to go crazy and can almost sense it, but when it hits, you’re not ready for it. The guiding light for everything is Menshiki, a character inspired by and a homage to Gatsby. Yes, Jay Gatsby! The plot is inspired from The Great Gatsby and Murakami does more than justice to it. The book has multiple references to Gatsby and the uncanny resemblance in the characters of Menshiki to Gatsby and the unnamed protagonists to Nick is beautifully handled. Their relationship is not usual as is with most Murakami characters. What was very interesting to me though, was although based on these evergreen characters, they didn’t over power the plot and they fit perfectly which sometimes isn’t the case. It could feel forced if not balanced properly to the new plot.
If you don’t know, Murakami’s picks for the three most meaningful books to him are The Great Gatsby, The Brothers Karamazov and The Long Goodbye. A few years ago he also translated Gatsby in Japanese. So Killing Commendatore is that much more interesting to fans of Murakami.
The book is set on a hill station in a quiet town in Japan, a silent but very atmospheric setting. The mood is created through numerous references to songs, the silence of the hills, the focus on any sounds of around the characters. Murakami fills up the void created by the silence really well and the characters, though isolated have strong and distinct personalities. Another thing very tactfully done is the inclusion of history (References mainly to the annexation of Austria in Nazi Germany)
Midway through Volume one something happens which we realize in the grand scheme of things isn’t as shocking (Kind of like we get used to characters being killed off in Game of Thrones but when Ned Stark is assassinated, we couldn’t believe it!) What I realized later on in Volume two is that I was underestimating the magical element in this book, a pleasant surprise!
Menshiki and our protagonist is joined by 2 other characters, a girl and her aunt which breath fresh air into the setting, especially the girl who becomes the center of everything that happens in volume 2 and Menshiki takes the back seat. I could go on about all the little things that Murakami does to give life to the characters, like how the narrator always notices paintings wherever he goes since he is a painter but I’d be taking a lot away from your experience of the book.
Overall, this book is to be savored, and before anything I’d recommend reading The Great Gatsby and also Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (which forms an integral part of the book)
There was something lacking about the ending, it wasn’t as dramatic The Great Gatsby but then again there are somethings F Scott Fitzgerald did that you can’t imitate.
If book depository ships to you, here’s a link so you can order right away – KILLING COMMENDATORE