Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Review: "The Strange Library" by Haruki Murakami
While not the most accomplished story Murakami has put out, his interesting, illustrated short story The Strange Library is still a vibrant, imaginative yarn that, while maybe not worth buying, is still worth a download on a mobile device. My affinity for Murakami is well-known, so I won’t go into it much. He is a grand storyteller whose fame is well deserved. This small story, maybe taking up about 25 pages if it were published normally, is Murakami simply having fun. It doesn’t take a lot out of the reader, nor does it carry an initial emotional weight to it. It is a light story that you can easily read in one sitting and still feel rewarded for doing so. The story deals with an unnamed boy on his way to the local library. He is returning some books, but wants to check out more so he could satisfy his need to learn about what kind of taxes were paid during the Ottoman Empire. He weaves his way through a labyrinth of hallways and book-filled nooks until he finds a cramped room with an ugly, surly old man who gives him three books on the subject, who tells him he must read them here since they cannot be checked out. He follows orders, despite his misgivings, and ends up the man’s prisoner, who promises to let him go if he memorizes all three books. He learns from a man dressed as a sheep, that the man will likely eat his brains to gain the kid’s knowledge. With the help of the sheep man, and a mysterious mute girl, he plots his escape. All the tropes are here: the sheep man, the mysterious beautiful girl, and the odd doors the imagination opens into our daily lives, with a quota that is bitterly sweet. It might not be worth the price I paid, but this story is never not delightful and bizarre.