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Men Without Women Audio CD
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'Drive my car' begins the collection in a good way. It's simple, easy Murakami, a great way to get into the groove. This eases the reader into 'Yesterday', arguably the second best story of the collection. But of course this story was published in the New Yorker, so I've read it a couple of times. It's still available free online.
Next we have a couple of rather ordinary stories (by Murakami standards): 'sheherazade' and 'an independent organ '. Both are written in the Murakami style, but neither really serves to grab the reader's attention.
Following these is 'Kino', which is certainly the best story in this collection and arguably rates among the author's best short stories, in my humble opinion. This story alone pushes my rating to four stars instead of three. I pondered this story for days. It really sticks with you.
Finishing the collecting are two stories that are good, but really pale after reading 'Kino'. 'Gregor Samsa in love' is a fun twist on the old Kafka story. It's a nice tribute to one of Murakami's biggest influences. And finishing the collection is the title story, little more than a few pages of musings by a vague protagonist.
All in all average compared to previous collections by Murakami. I'd say read this if you're a fan, otherwise start out with earlier collections. But as a Murakami fan, it's worth the purchase just for Kino.
There is a bit of range in the styling of these. They do carry a common theme of men on their own, even when other characters, particularly women, have strong parts. Even though there are some related elements, such as infidelity, each one is distinct. The central male characters, their situations, and even the tone of the stories feel different.
One thing that I love about Murakami's works is that they prominently feature the characters. Sometimes I will read things and the writer seems to be focused on an idea or plot point more than the character. Murakami is almost opposite of that. I love how we can delve into the characters' mindset and understand the pain, joy, confusion, etc. that is the crux of these moments. This might just be the best collection of Murakami stories.
I am glad to tell you this: that worry turned out to be just a typical worry.. Just like that man who said: Who says worrying doesn't help. Whenever I worry about something, it doesn't happen! 8-)
These are not short stories. Each is about 30 pages long. Not the novella size, probably (oh, gotta get to that last story that gave the collection its name) but just enough to make you feel content when you get to the end.
Samsa like the others is a gem of a story. Wonderful sequel to the infamous novella from Kafka (not the one on the shore).
So much more to say, but, "space" is much better as M., the woman we men all lost, declares aptly.. That wonderous nothing that is the beginning, the joyful middle and the ending of everything. Thanks H. M. Keep writing!
Top reviews from other countries
The women in the stories are invariably more poised, mature and autonomous than the men, who don't actually say 'Women, eh!' but come close, musing on the difficulty of understanding women, which is maybe a bit disingenuous for an author who has been married for over 40 years, has an enormous female fan base, and has created many convincing female characters in past books.
Six of the stories are up to Murakami's high standards with well-developed storylines, unusual but plausible characters sympathetically described, and the deft use of similes ('phones ringing in the middle of the night sound...like some savage metal tool out to destroy the world'). I particularly enjoyed the more upbeat story of Samsa in Love, a reverse take on Kafka's Metamorphosis, where an insect (?) wakes up as a man in war-torn Prague and falls in love with a feisty hunchback locksmith. The last story, Men without Women, is less a story than a stream of consciousness about love and loss and was (unusually for Murakami) unconvincing and self-pitying.
That aside, Murakami fans and lovers of short stories will not be disappointed with this collection.
Most of the stories are great. I remember one or two duds, mainly the ones that are surreal and not wholly grounded in reality. People think Murakami does this well, and maybe he does OK, but I don't really believe so. Give me the other stories instead, that tell me something about human beings getting by, that are well-crafted and whole-feeling, that have meaning lurking just beneath the page to be pondered on and teased out. There aren't many firm answers with Murakami's stories and characters, mainly just themes and moods. Gosh, he's just the best, isn't he?
For fun, re-read each story and drink the whiskey the character drinks, while listening to the jazz the character drinks. Now you're Murakami, just like every character Murakami ever wrote, and just like every fan who ever read him.
here the author is mostly interested in men + how they relate ( or don't ) to women
a mirror image to Anita Brookner - who's mostly interested in women + how they relate ( or don't ) to men
melancholic tales ( mostly about loss + regret ) with endings that often raise more questions than they answer
the influence of Kafka can be felt throughout
not least in the story entitled "Samsa In Love" in which a beetle awakens one morning to find its body has metamorphosed into that of a man !
with an appendage that does strange things when a woman comes calling !!