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Tuckered out by 10.30

Well, I finally found a Murakami novel that disappointed me. 

It was beautifully written and I powered through but it left a bitter taste in my mouth. 

This is hard to write because I have the utmost respect for Murakami but I really disliked the protagonist.

Spoilers ahead: 

The story is about Hajime, an only child, who feels left out as the rest of his school peers have siblings. He makes friends with another only child named Shimamoto, a girl in his grade who has a limp due to having polio. They have an extremely deep bond until Hajime changes school and loses touch with her. 

He still pines for Shimamoto as he loses touch but starts a relationship in high school with the beautiful Izumi. He ruins her life by sleeping his her cousin and then spends the next eight years kinda doing nothing until he meets his wife Yukio. They have two daughters and he gets a sweet job he loves, owning and managing two jazz bars.

His life is great until Shimamoto comes back. All he wants to do is to be with her. They meet once a week and get to know each other again when she asks a favour from him. She needs a river close to here and he finds one, in a place I can’t remember but somewhere that needs a plane to get there. She asks Hajime to go with him and he does, no questions asked. He lies to Yukio about the trip and tells her he plans to be home after dinner. Yukio doesn’t even bat an eyelid and says that’s fine. 

Shimamoto and Hajime go the river and there she scatters the ashes of her baby, one that she had for only a day. No other information is given. They drive back to the airport but then Shimamoto has this kind of physical meltdown. It seems like they are going to miss the airplane but the plane is delayed and they get home, albeit quite late. Hajime spends all his time replaying what could have happened with Shimamoto if they had missed their flight/had their flight cancelled. 

So basically the rest of the novel is spent him pining for Shimamoto but she disappears for awhile causing him to spiral in this numb depression. He realises that even though he has a good life and loves his wife and daughters, he would give it all away for Shimamoto. 

Shimamoto eventually turns up again to his jazz bar one night and Hajime decides to choose Shimamoto over everything. He rings Yukio and tells her that he is going to go to their vacation house to think things through. Yukio, a little upset, asks if it’s her and he says no.

He takes Shimamoto up and they have an intimate night together. Shimamoto leaves without a trace before Hajime wakes up.

He goes into another depression and Yukio asks about it - she knows that there was someone else that he loved and she wanted to know whether he wants her to leave or not. Hajime, not know what’s up from down, says he doesn’t know. 

He stays in this lull for ages, causing his wife much grief, but ends up pulling himself out when he sees Izumi causing the memory of Shimamoto fades. 

Hajime and Yukio start a new day together. 


Hajime is a selfish man throughout his life. Always willing to put his desires over the feelings of the people he loves, he goes through his life chasing after one desire after another. 

I get that he has this deep desire for Shimamoto but it just comes off arrogant and stupid. He ruins Izumi’s life and while he seems remorseful, he doesn’t even try to make things better. 

He loves his wife and daughters but he’s willing to give it all up to a girl he used to love when he was 12. I mean, Yukio took him out of his 8 year lull and is extremely accepting of his downfalls but he still puts his lusts over her’s. 

Maybe I lack depth or something but it irks me, that’s not how you treat your loved ones. 

Rating: 2/5 - I loved the writing, beautiful and warm as always, but a really disappointing story. 

Another scarf finished ❄⛄
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Self Portrait with Purple and Orange Flowers, Santa Cruz, March 2014 by Vivian Fu


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