“if they invent a car that runs on stupid jokes, you could go far.”

this was a real fast one (my definition of fast = one week) to finish. for the astute reader of this blog, murakami’s sputnik sweetheart has been on the current read section for pretty much a while now. well, with my other activities (work+finishing FFX-2) meant that the book was left in the backburner. i actually stopped reading at page 6, only to re-read the tome sometime last week.

murakami has done it for me again. like wind-up bird, i was hooked from page one six. i have never enjoyed reading this much since reading salinger’s whingefest that was catcher in the rye. sputnik‘s about an unkempt cigarette-smoking college drop-out called sumire who is a writer of sorts, into kerouac and is in love. the story is narrated by a teacher (only known as K) whose relationship with sumire throughout the book appears pretty much platonic, although he wishes otherwise. then one day, sumire disappears without a trace in some greek island, and K needs to find out what really happened to her. murakami’s storytelling delves into life’s everyday mundaneness, and i’m not complaining. in some ways it felt like reading someone’s blog. protagonist being woken up at 3 am due to incessant phonecalls, listens to mozart, has sex with his lover who is also his pupil’s mom, makes pasta… see what i mean? the humdrum aside, i was anticipating murakami witticisms throughout the book (see quoted example above). with gems like these, you’d catch me smiling unawares to myself like a right idjit.

the story feels like some bizarre anime. whilst wind-up was downright strange, sputnik was more conventional, with the bizarreness left for the last couple of chapters. the story is peppered with references to western classical music and literature. you may wonder what is so wrong with that, but the story is set in japan and the book was originally written in japanese (supuutoniku no koibito). i can’t recall anyone eating sushi or drinking kirin biru. it’s tomato and basil pasta whilst downing a bottle of ice-cold amstel! it’s like reading a malay novel where no one mentions siti nurhaliza (ok, bad example, but you know what i’m getting at).

sputnik sweetheart is, at the end of the day, a love story of sorts, a little quirky yet endearing at the same time. i have stressed this before, i’m a simpleton when it comes to coming up with a description of the books i read, because i can’t really give a critique as if i was writing for the new york times book review, can i? my one-word take on sputnik: enjoyable!