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Issue 25 - Journey into the subconscious

Whisky Magazine Issue 25
August 2002


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Journey into the subconscious

Jefferson Chase guides us down through the murky and mysterious world of Japanese author Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami, born in 1949 in Kyoto, is Japan's answer to David Lynch and Don DeLillo, a novelist who takes readers into a fantastic world behind the humdrum surface of everyday reality. His 1995 novel The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle starts with an unemployed house-husband, Toru Okada, searching for his lost cat in the suburbs of Tokyo. Before long, though, Okada is led into a surreal labyrinth, where everything may or may not be linked, by a series of figures that seem to have percolated up from the subconscious:

I took a seat at the bar and ordered a Scotch on the rocks. The bartender asked me what kind of Scotch I'd like, and I answered Cutty Sark. I didn't really care which brand of Scotch he served me, but Cutty Sark was the first thing to come to mind. Before he could give me my drink, I felt a hand take my arm from behind, the touch as soft as if the person were grasping something that might fall apart at any moment. I turned. There stood a man without a face … "This way, Mr Okada," he said. I tried to speak, but before I could open my mouth, he said to me, "Please, come with me. We have so little time. Hurry."

In Murakami's universe you had better watch out whom you talk to in bars.

It is impossible to summarise the plot of this novel. Suffice to say, it is about Rossini, a baseball bat, World War atrocities, sex, clairvoyance, male pattern baldness, Japanese politics, a defunct zoo, and a dried-up well that is a portal to another dimension. At the centre of it all...

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