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I read widely and in most genres but romance and westerns. Here you'll find my reviews since 2007, with a few reviews of previously read books as well.


In 2012, I completed an "authors of the world" challenge, reading a book for every country (and a few other entities) by someone who'd lived there for at least two years. I expect to tag these books by challenge and country in the near future. I'm still refining my list by adding books that better meet my challenge criteria.

Norwegian Wood - Haruki Murakami,  John Chancer One of the most tiresome books I've ever read, which is especially surprising from Murakami. I suppose I would need to be more familiar with the cultural context of Japan in the mid-1980s to understand why this was such a huge bestseller. I read this as an audiobook; the narrator rendered the female voices in unappetizing squawks. I looked it up in print. Less intrusive voicing, but it was fundamentally still offputting. "Hey," she said. "Hey," I answered. Do I really need to know every step of opening a jar? The level of pointless detail and meaningless conversation is astounding, and doesn't seem to serve much purpose. In my own life, I've tried not to spend time with people who are tedious or pretentious. This was 12-13 hours stuck with those people, leavened only by the unintentional hilarity of their praise for themselves for calling other people pretentious, hypocritical, or mindless. I've also tried to spend time with people with whom the relationship is easy, by which I don't mean simple, but that everyone has good intentions. This novel of brooding, lying, sulking, manipulative, game-playing adolescents illustrates everything you don't want to experience on a date. Oh--except for all the blow jobs and booze. I disliked the characters so much that the sex was quite repulsive. It's okay, though, because most of them manage to commit suicide. As for the narrator, though we never learn how he got from the end of the book to the opening framing story, he appears to wind up as something like a salaryman--at least, just some nostalgic guy on a plane--like the people he feels superior to throughout. This point isn't made by the novel, but I certainly noticed it.An emotionally small novel with none of what makes Murakami sparkle, which is the underlying conviction that weird stuff may be happening, and it will remain somewhat inexplicable to the characters and reader, but it matters to the wellness of the world. This is a novel about things that don't matter outside a tiny bubble of tortured, brittle college students.