My review at Goodreads.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Murakami’s fiction is delightful, whether he’s writing magical realism or a fake autobiography like this one. His style is the same in both genres: the trippy similes, the rich descriptions, the flights of introspection by the characters, the symbolism. That the narrative is first-person and that the book is just one long chapter — as opposed to the omniscient third person narrator and the sequences of intertwined chapters in his other novels — only strengthen the impact of the story.
Also delightful is that we are transported back to a time when people wrote letters — the kind where we put pen to paper, the kind we had to stick in an envelope, go to to a post office or to a mailbox to send and wait for days until we got a reply, and precisely because so much time and effort were required, we tended to invest so much more of ourselves in the letters, working our thoughts onto the pages the way a painter works his vision onto the canvas. What a welcome break from today’s shallow exchanges on the internet.
I found the letters included in the text of the novel real masterpieces; they contain deep, touching reflections on the inner worlds of the characters.
Finally, I was impressed by the way the characters dealt with sex. I know the Japanese culture can be repressive and prudish, but the young people in this novel show a no-nonsense attitude in this respect. Could it be because they were living in the 1960’s?