It took me an unusually long time from decision (read a Murakami book) to execution, probably because I wasn’t able to decide from where to start (which book?) – but, at last, the review on the cover did the trick and made me buy it:
If Raymond Chandler had lived long enough to see Blade Runner, he might have written something like Dance Dance Dance
That is to say, it did not make me read something written by Haruki Murakami – just made me choose that specific book.
I expected the story to be driven by something slightly supernatural, located in the space between reality as we know it (and we all agree it works, with differences that are not relevant here) and the small voids in perception that characterize our semiautomatic everyday actions. I do not know where this expectation came from, perhaps from some quotations I’ve read – but I think that my guessed was ok and I was not driven off by this expectation about where the fascination should came from – but the book somehow failed me in this regard: the issue is in the fabric of the book, but it doesn’t add anything special to the story.
So I’ll be sticking to the Chandler comparison, as it is the most useful key to understand my disappointment.
It’s not about the loose ends, or the abrupt way in which the mystery is solved: Chandler’s books have both of these shortcomings, but his prose is like an abandoned bunch of rusty old metal machinery parts, where – every now and then, in a mixture of surprise and melancholic disenchantment, you happen to find a small polished joint that glitters like a jewel. And his main characters, just like the unnamed protagonist of Dance Dance Dance, spend all their time wandering around with no apparent purpose – but the reader knows from the beginning that Philip Marlowe cannot pursue any kind of bourgeoisie happiness, and the tiny bits of mutual understanding that happen between him and other characters (often female), are again like a modest, short-lived glare that shines for a while and soon vanishes, lost to sight in the overwhelming sadness of their decaying world.
I do not intend to blame the book for not being Chandler-like enough: I can appreciate other genres as well… but there are so many explicit references in the way the main character is designed and moved around, and in the way the story is driven that, due to a complete absence of the factors that make hardboiled novels so fascinating, those references become simply annoying.