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A dazzling new collection of short stories—the first major new work of fiction from the beloved, internationally acclaimed, Haruki Murakami since his #1 best-selling Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are van A dazzling new collection of short stories—the first major new work of fiction from the beloved, internationally acclaimed, Haruki Murakami since his #1 best-selling Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles, woven together to tell stories that speak to us all. Marked by the same wry humor that has defined his entire body of work, in this collection Murakami has crafted another contemporary classic.


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A dazzling new collection of short stories—the first major new work of fiction from the beloved, internationally acclaimed, Haruki Murakami since his #1 best-selling Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are van A dazzling new collection of short stories—the first major new work of fiction from the beloved, internationally acclaimed, Haruki Murakami since his #1 best-selling Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles, woven together to tell stories that speak to us all. Marked by the same wry humor that has defined his entire body of work, in this collection Murakami has crafted another contemporary classic.

30 review for Men Without Women

  1. 4 out of 5

    Helle

    I saw Murakami yesterday. I don't mean that in a metaphorical way: I literally saw him in my home town of Odense, Denmark. He received the Hans Christian Andersen Literary Award and made a few small appearances while he was here, one of which was at our local library. There were only 180 of us there, and I don't think anyone left the room afterwards thinking that the event had been so-so. I, at least, felt dazed and enriched and happy afterwards. We heard him read aloud from a short story (in Ja I saw Murakami yesterday. I don't mean that in a metaphorical way: I literally saw him in my home town of Odense, Denmark. He received the Hans Christian Andersen Literary Award and made a few small appearances while he was here, one of which was at our local library. There were only 180 of us there, and I don't think anyone left the room afterwards thinking that the event had been so-so. I, at least, felt dazed and enriched and happy afterwards. We heard him read aloud from a short story (in Japanese) which his Danish translator afterwards read in Danish; we heard him answer some questions prepared by said translator and a literature expert. And we heard him answer some questions from the audience. He was delightful. He was humble. He was kind. He was funny. And I got to ask him the last question. (I may come back and actually review this collection. Then again, I may not. I may disappear down a well or go chase a cat or go to sleep and wake up as someone who doesn't read books).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs

    Men Without Women is a collection of stories about despairing men and loneliness; it depicts men who try to cope with the sorrows of life after their loved one has departed from them. Unable to move on, the men spend the rest of their days lamenting what they will never again feel. So this is a sad collection, one that captures the harsh realities of human experience, at least, the experience some people will ultimately feel in the face of rejection. The feelings the men have here are not needy Men Without Women is a collection of stories about despairing men and loneliness; it depicts men who try to cope with the sorrows of life after their loved one has departed from them. Unable to move on, the men spend the rest of their days lamenting what they will never again feel. So this is a sad collection, one that captures the harsh realities of human experience, at least, the experience some people will ultimately feel in the face of rejection. The feelings the men have here are not needy or creepy towards the women in question. This certainly isn’t a collection about desperate men. What we have instead is successful men, often those who are married or charming with the ladies, who lose their loved one or perhaps find her for the first time. They then have to get on with their loves in the wake of such a thing. Not an easy task for sure. Some have different coping strategies varying in different levels of extremity. One man simply dies, unable to eat anymore or muster the will to live, he slowly perishes and wastes away to nothing as he realises his love never felt the same way about him. What’s surprising, and perhaps a truism, is how easy it is for such an experience to break a man. Again, these men are not emotionally fragile or unhinged; they are relatively normal people who simply get overwhelmed by emotions that they cannot control or predict. Love is never easy and unreciprocated love is agony. But don’t some people have the strength to carry on? However, despite the harsh experience the men have here, I wanted to see a little bit more positivity. Some people, men or women, will find themselves in very similar situations in life, but they do not simply lay down and die. They get on with it; they keep going. Life does not fit into a neat little box. We don’t always get what we want, and simply giving up is not the answer. We have one life, and despite how painful our own experience can be, there is always a reason to carry on. If you’re not living for yourself, then live for other people. As ever Murakami’s prose is precise with the ability to handle such complex emotions. And he has tapped into something here, something true to life, but not everybody will react in such a way. We must move forward no matter how hard it may seem. At times I found myself wanting to give the men a good hard slap; they surely needed it: they needed a motivation injection or something. As important as it is to find a partner in life, it is not the thing that defines life or success. This book is certainly worth a read, though it falls short of its potential. Not all men without women react the same way. Facebook| Twitter| Insta| Academia

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook... I LOVED THESE STORIES!!!! They penetrated through my ears and my thoughts. I was hanging on to every word walking around town completely captivated. The only thing I didn't like -- only for a couple of minutes-is when switching to a new story... I wasn't ready to transition. Yet, they were 'all' fascinating & amazing!!! Quick question? Do you think women drive different than men? And... MEN: do you feel less at ease in the passenger seat with a woman driving - than when a man is? Paul Audiobook... I LOVED THESE STORIES!!!! They penetrated through my ears and my thoughts. I was hanging on to every word walking around town completely captivated. The only thing I didn't like -- only for a couple of minutes-is when switching to a new story... I wasn't ready to transition. Yet, they were 'all' fascinating & amazing!!! Quick question? Do you think women drive different than men? And... MEN: do you feel less at ease in the passenger seat with a woman driving - than when a man is? Paul said yes...'usually'! To my 'audiobook' friends.....( even if you mostly only listen to non- fiction audiobooks)...this was an EXCELLENT WALKING COMPANION...( Esil)... lol

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Smith

    A short enigmatic story from the master of the surreal. It’s a freebie (just follow the link accompanying this book on the Goodreads site) and if you’re a fan of Murakami’s work you should take a look; it’ll see you through a morning cappuccino. Kino owns a small bar in a back street of Tokyo. He doesn’t get many customers but one man does visit a couple of times each week and always sits in the same place, the most uncomfortable spot in the bar. They rarely talk. There’s a cat and jazz music and A short enigmatic story from the master of the surreal. It’s a freebie (just follow the link accompanying this book on the Goodreads site) and if you’re a fan of Murakami’s work you should take a look; it’ll see you through a morning cappuccino. Kino owns a small bar in a back street of Tokyo. He doesn’t get many customers but one man does visit a couple of times each week and always sits in the same place, the most uncomfortable spot in the bar. They rarely talk. There’s a cat and jazz music and whiskey, of course – all staple ingredients in any Murakami tale. As is his way, the story exists between the lines. Murakami tends to create a mood as much as he writes a story and there’s plenty of mood here. It’s simple and sad and I had to think about it a bit to extract its message. I enjoyed it. Link: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/201... Merged review: When you delve into a Murakami book you’re never quite sure what you’ll find – will it be surreal and mind bending, like The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, or darkly realistic like Norwegian Wood? Well this collection of short stories certainly has more in common with the latter, though not entirely so. The title gives away the linking theme, but that’s too simplistic. There’s longing and loneliness here but also a desire to understand, to discover. The tones are often deeply melancholic and are told – in typical Murakami style – in a matter of fact, somewhat unemotional way, but are totally beguiling nonetheless. As you would expect they are beautifully written, containing lines that stopped me in my tracks to ponder the pure truth of the statements. An actor has lost his wife after 20 years. She died after a short illness and as he is driven to and from the theatre in which he is performing he is quizzed by his female driver. It appears that he knew his wife had had affairs and at one stage took the strange step of befriending a fellow actor purely because he suspected he had had trysts with his late wife. Was his motivation just curiosity, as he sought to understand his wife’s motivation to seek out other male company? Or was he looking to exact revenge in some manner? A young man talks to his friend about his own girlfriend. They met when they were quite a bit younger and have been together for some time, but they don’t have a sexual relationship. He attempts to persuade his friend to take his girlfriend out on a date. What is the spur for this and where does he expect this to take his own relationship with his girlfriend? In both of these stories I was struck by the apparent strangeness of the actions taken by the lead protagonist, yet as the narrative developed these actions seemed to make more sense. Murakami regularly introduces me to people who not only live in a very different culture but who also seem slightly off-kilter. It’s unsettling… but stimulating. Sometimes I can reconcile myself to who they are and why they do what they do, but not always. A cosmetic surgeon seems to have everything a single man could want: money, a good career and an abundance of willing female company. He’s careful not to put himself in a position where he will become too emotionally involved with these women, in fact his favoured route is to liaise with women who are already in a steady relationship. He enjoys their company relishes the conversations and, of course, the sex. But then it happens - he falls in love. This certainly wasn’t in the plan and it throws his whole life into turmoil. In the title piece a man receives a ‘phone call advising him that an ex-girlfriend has committed suicide. He’s not sure why he received the call as he’d had no contact with her for a long time. However, he reflects that this is the third ex-girlfriend of his that has committed suicide. And then there’s the account of a young man in confinement, who is visited by a housekeeper who also provides sexual favours and talks to him about reincarnation (she was an eel in a previous life) and a boy she secretly stalked. These stories spoke to me of introspection and addiction and of a yearning for relationships lost. I don’t think I’ve worked out the true underlying message in any of these tales (if, indeed, there is one) but the story of the surgeon, in particular, has a haunting and compelling unexpectedness to it. Kino, about a man who opens a small bar after he splits with his wife is the only story I’d read before (and reviewed it here). I enjoyed it at the time and I believe it’s one of the strongest offerings in this book. The final story is the most surreal, it’s a reversal of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis in which Gregor Samsa awakens to find himself transformed from insect to human. As he stumbles about his apartment trying to get used to this new, strange body he is visited by a hunchbacked woman to whom he becomes attracted. It’s my first foray into the world of the author’s short story collections and it’s one I found hugely rewarding. As always with compendiums of this sort, some pieces attracted me more than others but I enjoyed the fact that each felt very separate and different to the last. Murakami has a hugely fertile mind and an uncanny ability to put words on a page in a way that excites, confuses and disturbs. I’m off to find more like this.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Candi

    “Loneliness is brought over from France, the pain of the wound from the Middle East. For Men Without Women, the world is a vast, poignant mix, very much the far side of the moon.” I couldn’t get enough of Haruki Murakami after my passionate fling with him and his Sputnik Sweetheart last month. I hadn’t intended for it to be just a fleeting, casual flirtation. I knew I’d be going back for more after he accepted my apology for abandoning him several years ago. And I did just that, less than two wee “Loneliness is brought over from France, the pain of the wound from the Middle East. For Men Without Women, the world is a vast, poignant mix, very much the far side of the moon.” I couldn’t get enough of Haruki Murakami after my passionate fling with him and his Sputnik Sweetheart last month. I hadn’t intended for it to be just a fleeting, casual flirtation. I knew I’d be going back for more after he accepted my apology for abandoning him several years ago. And I did just that, less than two weeks later. I quickly downloaded this collection of seven short stories and surrendered myself to his prose once again. The theme of all seven stories is self-evident from the title. In each, Murakami writes of men suffering from loneliness and isolation, primarily from women but also from much of society in general. They have suffered a breaking of relationships with women either due to death, abandonment or disintegration of marriages or love affairs. The yearning of these men to make connections and the despair they endure is palpable. With few and simple words, Murakami conveys to the reader exactly what they are going through, and the reader experiences the same heartache. At least this reader did. “Life is strange, isn’t it? You can be totally entranced by the glow of something one minute, be willing to sacrifice everything to make it yours, but then a little time passes, or your perspective changes a bit, and all of a sudden you’re shocked at how faded it appears.” One thing I realized, despite the title, is that this collection doesn’t just highlight the men but also points to the women that in many cases are experiencing pain as well. Some of them are in adulterous relationships, others have passed on from this world due to disease, and yet others are solitary souls themselves, set apart from love and companionship for various reasons. It is not the fact that they are simply without men, but rather their isolation has made their various cuts and bruises stand out more clearly. “I was their only child. If I’d been prettier, Father never would have left. That’s what Mother always said. It’s because I was born ugly that he abandoned us.” Of course, I didn’t love all seven stories equally. But for the most part, I was hooked. I took something away from each of them, but there were a couple of clear favorites with “Kino” and “Scheherazade” at the top of my list. Surprisingly, I loved “Kino” for its magical realism vibes. Murakami masterfully utilizes this stylistic device in such a way that I, a rather unimaginative reader, can wholeheartedly swallow with no hesitations. “Scheherazade” enticed me with its allure of ‘bedtime stories.’ Who can resist the idea of someone storytelling after sex?! Yes, please! “The other thing that puzzled him was the fact that their lovemaking and her storytelling were so closely linked, making it hard, if not impossible, to tell where one ended and the other began.” I would not hesitate to recommend this collection for anyone interested in sampling Murakami’s writing. I perhaps should have read this before Sputnik Sweetheart, because it paled just a tad in comparison to that enchanting novel. But that’s okay, it’s a tasty little morsel and I’m happy to have read it. I’m certainly seeing a clear theme to his splendid writing and can’t wait for more. "But the proposition that we can look into another person’s heart with perfect clarity strikes me as a fool’s game. I don’t care how well we think we should understand them, or how much we love them. All it can do is cause us pain… Examining your own heart, however, is another matter. I think it’s possible to see what’s in there if you work hard enough at it. So in the end maybe that’s the challenge: to look inside your own heart as perceptively and seriously as you can, and to make peace with what you find there. If we hope to truly see another person, we have to start by looking within ourselves."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nishat

    Seven stories. All about pitifully isolated men, struggling with the loss of women in their lives, coming to terms, although at a snail's pace, with death and heartbreak - some even failing miserably at that. It seems to me, Murakami has been writing about them forever. Merging all the characters that Murakami, over the years, breathed life into, we invariably discover a man, always the same man, the ultimate loner. Murakami has given him new names and effaced older ones. But there's no question Seven stories. All about pitifully isolated men, struggling with the loss of women in their lives, coming to terms, although at a snail's pace, with death and heartbreak - some even failing miserably at that. It seems to me, Murakami has been writing about them forever. Merging all the characters that Murakami, over the years, breathed life into, we invariably discover a man, always the same man, the ultimate loner. Murakami has given him new names and effaced older ones. But there's no question that it is the same, alienated man, we, from time to time, find ourselves reading about. Until now, I didn't mind, nor did I ever find myself bored on account of my hitherto incorruptible loyalty to the author. I have been always, what you call, a fan. This time, I loathed his repetitiveness, and the weakness and frailty of his characters. Disgusted by their apathy towards others and their nonchalant way of going about life, I became increasingly indifferent as to how their stories progressed. Besides, from the outset, I was uncomfortable with the misogynistic undertones. There's a certain, unmistakable charm to loneliness, to detachment. It is entirely possible to feel compassion for characters who have severed ties with their surroundings, characters completely robbed of love. But in this case, Murakami's men lack sincerity, their stories significance. Except 'Kino', the book's probably one saving grace. Only a reader, relatively new to Murakami's world, should consider reading this book. As for me, I will be taking a short break from his otherwise colorful world, which kept me entranced, admittedly, for a long time now.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    "That's what it is like to lose a woman. And at a certain time, losing one woman means losing all women. That's how we become Men Without Women." -- Haruki Murakami, Men Without Women This is a soft Murakami. A lot of his novels are dreamlike, but this one seems more like an emotional smell than a memory. There just isn't a lot to grab onto. It reminded me of petting a sea anemone flower at a local aquarium. I knew I was doing it. I was even thrilled a bit as I was doing it. It just didn't registe "That's what it is like to lose a woman. And at a certain time, losing one woman means losing all women. That's how we become Men Without Women." -- Haruki Murakami, Men Without Women This is a soft Murakami. A lot of his novels are dreamlike, but this one seems more like an emotional smell than a memory. There just isn't a lot to grab onto. It reminded me of petting a sea anemone flower at a local aquarium. I knew I was doing it. I was even thrilled a bit as I was doing it. It just didn't register in the way I predicted. Anyway, the book is a series of short stories, I've included my ranking for each: 1. Drive My Car - ★★★★ 2. Yesterday - ★★★ 3. An Independent Organ - ★★ 4. Scheherazade - ★★★★ 5. Kino - ★★★★ 6. Samsa in Love - ★★★ 7. Men without Women - ★★★

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    There I was, on vacation in Florida, when I received the email from The New Yorker with “stories to enjoy during the holiday.” Sure, as if I needed more stories to add to the ever-growing list. But the stories were right there, just a fingertip away on my iPad, and they were free. So I did what any other story addict would do: I opened the email and clicked the first link. Up popped Haruki Murakami. I didn’t know what to think about this. Was I to read another Murakami, only to become frustrated There I was, on vacation in Florida, when I received the email from The New Yorker with “stories to enjoy during the holiday.” Sure, as if I needed more stories to add to the ever-growing list. But the stories were right there, just a fingertip away on my iPad, and they were free. So I did what any other story addict would do: I opened the email and clicked the first link. Up popped Haruki Murakami. I didn’t know what to think about this. Was I to read another Murakami, only to become frustrated with the translation and story again, and in turn, feel as if I was downgrading the prized Murakami storytelling, just as I felt I did after reading, The Elephant Vanishes? No thanks. And then I saw these first two lines: “Each time they had sex, she told Habara a strange and gripping story afterward. Like Queen Scheherazade in ‘A Thousand and One Nights.’” He had me at the first five words. I haven’t read the original version of this story, but if it’s anything like Lahiri’s New Yorker version of “Sexy,” or Adichie’s “Birdsong,” you know that the translation has been fine tuned through some copious editing. I remember an instance in a graduate writing workshop, when we went over the form of Lahiri’s “Sexy.” That day, one of my workshop mates tried to follow along with the actual short story collection, but soon, we were all fascinated when we realized that The New Yorker’s version was shorter and a better read. You start by thinking this story is about Habara, the male narrator trapped in his home and his mind, until you realize that it is about the woman he calls, Scheherazade. You see her through Habara’s eyes, you see her in his bed. You see her as a thirty-five-year old woman, and as a seventeen-year-old girl. There is also the story of her past, which tells you that she too, is a mental prisoner. “She was a lamprey eel in a former life,” she tells him as they lay in bed. Lamprey eels have suckers, “which they use to attach themselves to rocks at the bottom of a river or lake. ”They float there, just waiting to attach themselves to something (or somebody if you’re looking at this in symbolic terms). Once they spy a trout, “they dart up and fasten on to it with their suckers. Inside their suckers are these tonguelike things with teeth, which rub back and forth against the trout’s belly until a hole opens up and they can start eating the flesh, bit by bit.” (Note to self: rethink ordering eel for sushi). Scheherazade attaches herself to Habara and he to her, and it makes you wonder if she, the eel, is determined to suck something out of him. No pun intended. She tells him: Lampreys think very lamprey-like thoughts. About lamprey-like topics in a context that’s very lamprey-like. There are no words for those thoughts. They belong to the world of water. It’s like when we were in the womb. We were thinking things in there, but we can’t express those thoughts in the language we use out here. Scheherazade is a surface idiosyncratic but beneath it all, you sense she is more and so you wait for something disastrous to happen. Yet nothing does happen. Or does it? Is this layered suggestiveness Murakami’s way of giving his readers the power of ending a story for themselves? Sure, Scheherazade was a stalker in her past, an obsessive person who was so fatally attracted to someone, she broke into his home to smell his dirty sweatshirts, but what of the present? This is a story of companionship and void sexual encounters, where the backstory informs the main story and pulls you along for the ride: “their lovemaking and her storytelling were so closely linked, making it hard to tell where one ended and the other began.” At its core, it is about a man who is losing his freedom and fearful that someday, when he loses it completely, he will lose what he cherishes the most: the companionship of a woman. You don’t read this story and take a break; you read it in gulps, because this is the way Murakami intended.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ellie

    As usual, there is a bar, jazz music, and a cat. Along with a repressed man (Kino), out of touch with his feelings, and some supernatural happenings. I loved this short story by Murakami (you can read it for free by following the GR link). It is filled with his classic themes, soothing and haunting at the same time. Beautiful sentences: “This was ambiguity: holding on to an empty space between two extremes.” “The roots of darkness could spread everywhere beneath the earth. Patiently taking their ti As usual, there is a bar, jazz music, and a cat. Along with a repressed man (Kino), out of touch with his feelings, and some supernatural happenings. I loved this short story by Murakami (you can read it for free by following the GR link). It is filled with his classic themes, soothing and haunting at the same time. Beautiful sentences: “This was ambiguity: holding on to an empty space between two extremes.” “The roots of darkness could spread everywhere beneath the earth. Patiently taking their time, searching out weak points, they could break apart the most solid rock.” “He had to extinguish the ability to imagine anything. I shouldn’t look at it, he told himself. No matter how empty it may be, this is still my heart. There’s still some human warmth in it. Memories, like seaweed wrapped around pilings on the beach, wordlessly waiting for high tide. Emotions that, if cut, would bleed. I can’t just let them wander somewhere beyond my understanding.” “All he could do was wait like this, patiently, until it grew light out and the birds awoke and began their day. All he could do was trust in the birds, in all the birds, with their wings and beaks. Until then, he couldn’t let his heart go blank. That void, the vacuum created by it, would draw them in.” A willow tree outside hishouse-laden with meaning, an echo of something in Kino. Trust in the birds. Merged review: Loved it! I always love Murakami, even his less than perfect works but this is an excellent addition to his oeuvre. I generally prefer his novels to his short fiction but these stories are wonderful. The stories all center around the loneliness of the male protagonists. There are missed connections and losses and a general inability to connect or stay connected to anyone, especially women. But these men seem generally isolated and lonely. Even their male friendships tend to center around lost or unattainable women. The men particularly yearn for a woman to assuage their pain. Love-or the lack of it-is the empty center around which their lives revolve. In the title story, the narrator learns that an old lover of his has killed herself. The writing in this story is the lyrical and moving as he contemplates their relationship and his loneliness (despite, apparently, his marriage!). I wanted to memorize long passages of this beautiful story (although I think the beauty of the writing was stronger than the story itself). In "Scheherazade", a woman beguiles a homebound man (the reason for his being homebound is never explained, he's one of Murakami's men without the will to go into the world, in the most literal sense) with stories. In her tale of her adolescence, she talks of a boy she was obsessed with and where that obsession led her. Like the men, the women in these stories are also unable to form lasting connections with others. "Samsa in Love" is the oddest, funniest, and yet also frightening/touching stories in the collection. In a riff off Kafka, a roach wakes up to find himself Gregor Samsa, a human. He has difficulty adjusting to his new body (as did Samsa) and vague memories of his perhaps once being a man named Samsa. He too is confined to his house where a hunchbacked woman comes to fix a lock. He is fascinated by her. But alongside this story of possible love is the presence of tanks in the city (the invasion of Prague by the Germans?) and the ominous absence of his family. I had read the story "Kino" before but was happy to reread it. It is reminiscent of Murakami's earlier work, complete with a jazz bar and mysterious strangers. I was filled with a longing to reread his early novels. Murakami remains, for me, a master of literature. Always interesting, always filled with beautiful writing and interesting stories. There is none of his literal magical elements in these stories but there is the magic of the stories themselves. This would be an easy beginning for readers new to Murakami but perhaps not the best. I would still recommend Kafka on the Shore, IQ84. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World or A Wild Sheep Chase. And for short stories, I would recommend After Dark. But this would be almost as good a place to being: accessible, moving stories filled with Murakami's distinctive touches and themes. A new reader would certainly get a sense of Murakami's power as a writer. If he or she liked this book, there's a whole world of Murakami out there. And, of course, for those of us already in love with Murakami, this is a must and rewarding read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chris_P

    Dreams are the kind of things you can—when you need to—borrow and lend out. You know how, for many people, reading books is like travelling without leaving the comfort of their living rooms? For me, reading Murakami is like returning home after a long and exhaustive trip. His prose, his style, all the little well known things that make up his stories, feel like a cozy, dim-lit room with dark corners and telephones that ring menacingly, like an unfortold dark turn of events, in the middle of t Dreams are the kind of things you can—when you need to—borrow and lend out. You know how, for many people, reading books is like travelling without leaving the comfort of their living rooms? For me, reading Murakami is like returning home after a long and exhaustive trip. His prose, his style, all the little well known things that make up his stories, feel like a cozy, dim-lit room with dark corners and telephones that ring menacingly, like an unfortold dark turn of events, in the middle of the night. These beautiful antitheses is what I love about Murakami. Men who are divorced, men who are married, lonely men, men in relationships, widowers, men who have undergone a sudden metamorphosis, all of them share a special world of their own. All of them have a missing jigsaw piece in the place of their hearts. It's one of those collections that there's no need to rate the stories seperately. In fact, I think it would be a mistake to do so. In all seven of them, I experienced the same old feelings Haruki knows ridiculously well how to deliver. Favorite: Kino. Least favorite: An Independent Organ. Suddenly one day you become Men Without Women. That day comes to you completely out of the blue, without the faintest of warnings or hints beforehand. No premonitions or foreboding, no knocks or clearing of throats. Turn a corner and you know you’re already there. But by then there’s no going back. Once you round that bend, that is the only world you can possibly inhabit. In that world you are called “Men Without Women.” Always a relentlessly frigid plural.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mutasim Billah

    "But when I look back at myself at age twenty what I remember most is being alone and lonely." Ahh Murakami and his endless alienated, lonely male characters! Men Without Women is a collection of short stories by Haruki Murakami that came out in 2017 (not to be confused with Hemingway's short-story collection of the same name). Here, we have seven stories with male characters, each with varying degrees of despair, dread or loneliness from the lack or loss of women. There are themes of grief, betr "But when I look back at myself at age twenty what I remember most is being alone and lonely." Ahh Murakami and his endless alienated, lonely male characters! Men Without Women is a collection of short stories by Haruki Murakami that came out in 2017 (not to be confused with Hemingway's short-story collection of the same name). Here, we have seven stories with male characters, each with varying degrees of despair, dread or loneliness from the lack or loss of women. There are themes of grief, betrayal, masochism or just complete alienation in this book. Some of the stories are really well-done, I particularly enjoyed "Samsa in Love", which is a reworked version of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, and "Kino", which has some of the many usual Murakami elements I happen to love. Most of the stories are already available online on The New Yorker.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    Haruki Murakami’s latest short story collection is also my least favourite of his so far. Out of the seven fairly longish stories, only one of them was half-decent while the others ranged from bleh to agonisingly dull. Kino is the ok story where a recently heartbroken man opens up a bar and plays host to a strange man who comes in every week, reads a book and drinks his booze. Its focus meanders quite a bit from Kino to the stranger to some random woman and then back to the stranger, though it’s Haruki Murakami’s latest short story collection is also my least favourite of his so far. Out of the seven fairly longish stories, only one of them was half-decent while the others ranged from bleh to agonisingly dull. Kino is the ok story where a recently heartbroken man opens up a bar and plays host to a strange man who comes in every week, reads a book and drinks his booze. Its focus meanders quite a bit from Kino to the stranger to some random woman and then back to the stranger, though it’s never boring, and I liked the hint of magical realism dancing on the edges of the tale. However I would’ve preferred a less self-consciously literary, vague ending which left me unsatisfied and wondering what the hey I’d just read. And self-consciously literary, vague, unsatisfying and what the hey basically sums up the rest of the stories! In Drive My Car, an actor gets a female driver to drive him to and from the theatre, along the way telling her about his dead philandering wife and the friendship he struck up with one of her lovers. Yesterday is about a man who goes out with his friend’s girlfriend who dreams of an icy moon. Scheherazade is about a man seemingly held prisoner in a house visited by a woman he calls Scheherazade (though it’s not her real name) who tells him about her odd dreams after they sex. A wealthy plastic surgeon starves himself to death after falling in love in An Independent Organ. Uh… huh? I guess the theme is weird relationships but I don’t know what I’m supposed to think about it - Murakami’s women is cheating ho-bags? The stories feel like they’re trying to seem deep and profound but they come across as really shallow and pointless. I get the literary references - 1001 Arabian Nights (Scheherazade), Kafka (Samsa in Love), Hemingway (Men Without Women), and of course the near-obligatory Beatles nods (Drive My Car, Yesterday) - but so what? I have read Hemingway’s collection, also called Men Without Women, though it’s been years and I can’t remember it so I’m not sure if it ties into this in any meaningful way. The worst stories were Samsa in Love and Men Without Women. A man wakes up to discover he’s Gregor Samsa - haaaah, geddit?? Like an inversion of Kafka’s Metamorphosis when Gregor Samsa woke up to discover he was a giant bug! Gregor Samsa falls in love with a hunchback locksmith and… that’s it. I guess it was all about that opening line. In Men Without Women some guy rambles on about a woman he used to love who’s just died. Awful, boring rubbish. Kino was ok and the writing in general is of a high standard, and I liked certain elements of some of the stories like the odd, ambiguous scenario of Scheherazade - why is that man trapped in a house and can’t leave? On the whole though this is a very weak collection with a series of instantly forgettable crap. I’d recommend either after the quake or The Elephant Vanishes over this fans-only book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Hugh

    I read a lot of Murakami when I was younger but I have not read a new one since deciding that I couldn't face 1Q84. So this is the first I have read in the four years since joining GoodReads, and although I found these stories enjoyable to read, I don't think they are his best work and they won't change anyone's mind about him. I recall one GoodReads friend saying that Murakami is incapable of describing female characters without mentioning their breasts, and yes, there are plenty of those gratu I read a lot of Murakami when I was younger but I have not read a new one since deciding that I couldn't face 1Q84. So this is the first I have read in the four years since joining GoodReads, and although I found these stories enjoyable to read, I don't think they are his best work and they won't change anyone's mind about him. I recall one GoodReads friend saying that Murakami is incapable of describing female characters without mentioning their breasts, and yes, there are plenty of those gratuitous references here too. This collection consists of seven stories ranging in length from 17 pages (the title story, and the final one) to an almost novella-length 40 pages. His subjects are all men, of various ages and backgrounds, and they all suffer from different forms of loneliness. For me the most interesting was Samsa, a sort of sequel to Kafka's Metamorphosis but reversed so that Gregor Samsa wakes as a human with no human memory, effectively reversing the story. An enjoyable collection but not an essential one.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    My first introduction to Haruki Murakami’s work and I’m glad I started with this beautiful collection of short stories. The men depicted are mostly lost and lonely souls, the women that float through these stories are quite progressive independently spirited, I think that speaks well to my sensibilities ;) I think I shall delve more deeply into the wonderful world of Murakami as I enjoyed these a lot.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sid

    Murakami never fails to surprise and please my sense of reading!!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sandeep

    Men Without Women is a collection of seven short stories about men suffering from loneliness and grief because of the loss of a woman or lack of them in their lives. Unable to move on, the men spend the rest of their days lamenting what they will never again feel. Individual stories and my thoughts on them are as follows: DRIVE MY CAR- 3.5/5 🌟 It follows an elderly actor who hires a female driver to take him to rehearsals. On the journeys he reflects on his life; in particular the affairs his wife Men Without Women is a collection of seven short stories about men suffering from loneliness and grief because of the loss of a woman or lack of them in their lives. Unable to move on, the men spend the rest of their days lamenting what they will never again feel. Individual stories and my thoughts on them are as follows: DRIVE MY CAR- 3.5/5 🌟 It follows an elderly actor who hires a female driver to take him to rehearsals. On the journeys he reflects on his life; in particular the affairs his wife had before she died, which he never confronted her about. Sad and beautifully written, one of my favorites from this book. AN INDEPENDENT ORGAN- 2.5/5 🌟 A writer recounts the story of a bachelor he knew who enjoyed the company of married women. He eventually fell in love with someone but it didn't end well. This was fine, nothing great. I couldn't grasp the idea of 'an independent organ' or what it signifies in the story. SCHEHERAZADE- 4.5/5 🌟 A man is confined to his house and a woman brings him food and makes love to him before telling him stories about a boy she was obsessed with during her teenage years. She seemed searching for something but the reader never finds out what it is. Great concept of love and life explained through the story. This was my favorite of all seven. KINO - 3/5 🌟 After discovering his wife is cheating on him Kino leaves her and his house and opens a bar. He is trying to bury the grief but is unable to hide it. This story is heavy on magical realism and metaphors. It's written really well but too whimsical for me. SAMSA IN LOVE- 4/5 🌟 It’s a reversal of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis in which Gregor Samsa awakens to find himself transformed from insect to human. As he stumbles about his apartment trying to get used to this new, strange body he is visited by a hunchbacked woman to whom he becomes attracted. Loved it since I really enjoyed Metamorphosis. MEN WITHOUT WOMEN- 2.5/5 🌟 A man receives a call in the middle of the night to tell him that his ex-girlfriend has committed suicide and he reflects on life and what happens to a man when he becomes one of the "men without women". This story was a little too plain in my opinion but gives a great insight on human sympathy and remorse. It’s my first foray into the world of Murakami and it’s one I found rewarding. Murakami has a hugely fertile mind and an uncanny ability to put words on a page in a way that excites, confuses and disturbs. Some say Murakami's writing is hit or miss for them and I totally get why. I think it will take a good couple of books to get used to the world of Murakami which I'm definitely interested to explore.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Aya Hamza

    I don't read lots of short story collections because most of them feel too rushed, but in this one every single story is well written and complete. I read many short stories by Murakami and really enjoyed it, but never read a complete collection by him. Now, I want to dive into the rest of his collections! The stories are beautifully written. Murakami has such a way with words. He never disappoint me! The stories themselves are amazing. There is no plot to them, but as usual Murakami writes chara I don't read lots of short story collections because most of them feel too rushed, but in this one every single story is well written and complete. I read many short stories by Murakami and really enjoyed it, but never read a complete collection by him. Now, I want to dive into the rest of his collections! The stories are beautifully written. Murakami has such a way with words. He never disappoint me! The stories themselves are amazing. There is no plot to them, but as usual Murakami writes character driven stories, and I don't care because I can read them and love them! In these seven short stories, he writes about lonely men and their experiences with mysterious women, and how they chose loneliness to avoid the pain of love. Stories that are mixed with music and smoke, and some gave me fairy tale vibes. The stories show that there is definitely a difference in the way men and women think, but also that men don't understand women! You may think that these stories are pure contemporaries, you are wrong. They are still open-ended mysteries. For a Murakami fan, it is no surprise to me. This is his specialty! Drive my car: ★★★★½ This is my second favorite story from the collection. It is about an actor who hires a new female driver and they start conversations along their way to and from his work.. talking about their past, specially about his dead wife -whom he is still deeply in love- and her affairs. And how he was hurt by her actions.. but never revealed her secret because of the fear of losing her maybe? In this sad story, we see how the husband try to understand the reason his wife might have been unfaithful and what she found in these men that was not in him. He even made a friendship with one of her loves! Yesterday: ★★★½ “If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’s not easy to look for it.” This one is about two friends, one of them "Kitaru" is quite weird! He even asks his friend to go out with his girlfriend because he thinks that he is a good guy! They don't go out as lovers but as friends.. talking about their previous relationships and their love life. The story is not about relationships only, but it also showed Kitaru's curiosity! “I figure, if she’s gonna go out with other guys, it’s better if it’s you. ’Cause I know you. And you can gimme, like, updates and stuff.” An independent organ: ★★★★ In my opinion, this one is the most beautifully written story in the collection! He tells the story of a surgeon who doesn't want to get married. He doesn't allow himself to fall in love! He goes out with women not necessary for sex but he enjoys his time with intelligent women.. until one day, he falls in love with a married woman and now lives in a conflict between his fear of falling deeply in love with her and the fear of losing her. “I’ve been out with lots of woman who are much prettier than her, better built, with better taste, and more intelligent. But those comparisons are meaningless. Because to me she is someone special. A ‘complete presence,’ I guess you could call it. All of her qualities are tightly bound into one core. You can’t separate each individual quality to measure and analyze it, to say it’s better or worse than the same quality in someone else. It’s what’s in her core that attracts me so strongly. Like a powerful magnet. It’s beyond logic.” This story is quite dark. It shows the loneliness and emptiness the man felt without the woman he loved. He knew her flaws and yet he loved her so deeply. It also show how love changes men and how love made the doctor so violent even toward himself! Scheherazade: ★★★★ This one is about this married woman that is housekeeping a young man and sleeping with him. She always tells him stories, like Scheherazade, about her teenage life and the boy she loved and even sneaked to his house to know more about him. This felt like a fairy tale. You see this young man and how he is curious and intrigued by these stories and how lonely he feels without her. Kino: ★★★½ It is about a man who discovers that his wife is cheating on him, but he just leaves her without blaming her. He decides to open a bar and lead a different life. He feels that his life is so empty and his soul is lonely. He feels nothing.. I found this one a bit strange, but when you think of it, it starts to make sense! And it has a beautiful meaning to it. Samsa in love: ★★ I couldn't fully understand this story, and this is probably a "me" thing because this story is inspired by Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" which I know nothing about! I haven't read any Kafka book so I can't even know what to expect from him. Men without women: ★★★★★ I guess this is my favorite story from the collection. It is heavily mixed with music and I LOVE when he does that! It is about a man whose ex-girlfriend killed herself, and the beautiful memories he had with her, and how he lost his 14-year-old self when he lost her! He felt that he is missing something after her death even though they broke up many years ago! Overall, this was a great Murakami collection which I highly recommend checking out!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Quann

    It’s that special time of year where I return to the works of Haruki Murakami to see how I feel about the guy. For those of you who have been following my slow reading of Murakami, I loved the first novel I read by him, 1Q84, was ho-hum about The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle , considered abandoning Murakami after really disliking Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage , and had my faith restored when I listened to What I Talk About When I Talk About Running . So, having felt the It’s that special time of year where I return to the works of Haruki Murakami to see how I feel about the guy. For those of you who have been following my slow reading of Murakami, I loved the first novel I read by him, 1Q84, was ho-hum about The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle , considered abandoning Murakami after really disliking Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage , and had my faith restored when I listened to What I Talk About When I Talk About Running . So, having felt the ebb and flow of my appreciation for Murakami, I’m happy to come back on an annual basis to check the depth of my enjoyment. This year’s candidate: Men Without Women, which also happens to fit in nicely with my attempt to read a short story collection per month in 2018. I’ve provided a brief review of each story below for your perusal and an overall review at the end. Enjoy! 1. Drive My Car ***** I really enjoyed this one! A great character study of an aging actor and widow who enlists the services of a female driver after losing his license due to a DUI. I liked the philosophical musings in this story and appreciated the lack of the supernatural. Great start to the collection! 2. Yesterday *** When a buddy is unable to make the next move with his girlfriend, what do you do? You go on a date with his girlfriend? Sounds like you’ve got a classic Murakami socially awkward situation! This failed to land for me with the circuitous dialogue that occasionally plagues Murakami’s writing, as well as a character with whom I failed to identify. Still, some interesting expository bits and some nice turns of phrase. 3. An Independent Organ ***1/2 A man reflects on his squash-partner’s career, personal life, and strange death. The salacious details of Dr. Tokai’s sexcapades were intriguing, but the heartbreak that leads him to his strange death is treated as some sort of right of passage on the way to self-discovery. A bit strange, this one didn’t totally land for me. 4. Scheherazade ** “I told you about being a lamprey in a former life, right?” From there, a man has frequent, perfunctory sex with a woman who tells a really good story. This one’s my least favourite of the stories to date, though you just gotta appreciate how weird Murakami can get sometimes. 5. Kino ****1/2 This lands right in the Murakami sweet spot for me. It’s a good mix of introspection, enticing story developments, and the surreal. What perhaps makes this story most effective is that it deals with repression and shame in a way that seems universal and not just limited to the odd turns in narrative that Murakami often takes. Also, there’s got to be some Murakami-Bingo points for: mystical cat, jazz music, surreal experience. 6. Samsa in Love **** This is another hit, though it is also another reminder that I’ve yet to read Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Though I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be set before or after the novella, I was fine motoring my way through the story with what little knowledge I had from popular culture. This is also the story that feels most different from Murakami’s standard story telling. I’m a fan! 7. Men Without Women * Ooomph. This is my least favourite type of Murakami. When he alters between the ethereal and wallowing men. It seemed more like notes to a potential story than a story itself. What a sour note to leave on. Average Score: *** This has been a really great collection for me, primarily to help me suss out what type of Murakami stories I enjoy most. It seems that I prefer his stories most when they have a clear direction, and I get irritated with him when it seems like he’s a lovesick college boy trying weed for the first time. With this in mind, I think this collection is going to help guide me towards his novels that are perhaps better suited to me. All in all, not my favourite short story collection of the year, but still a worthy mixed bag. It would also be a good choice for the Murakami initiate!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Zoeytron

    This was a short story in the New Yorker magazine. Kino lives a life that is not quite buttoned up right. There is something askew with his life, but he can't put his finger on what is wrong. With the help of the mysterious Kamita and a small gray cat, Kino struggles to find his heart. A charming and very different story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Betsy Robinson

    I am a Murakami fan (I’ve loved his novels), so I was surprised that I didn’t love this collection of short stories. I know they are said to be “new work,” but some of them seemed immature, and I wondered if they were earlier pieces that had been pulled out of a bottom drawer. Here are briefs written right after I finished each story—a very uneven mix: “Drive My Car” is really a story about how we are all actors, briefly playing roles, then resuming something else which is different each time we I am a Murakami fan (I’ve loved his novels), so I was surprised that I didn’t love this collection of short stories. I know they are said to be “new work,” but some of them seemed immature, and I wondered if they were earlier pieces that had been pulled out of a bottom drawer. Here are briefs written right after I finished each story—a very uneven mix: “Drive My Car” is really a story about how we are all actors, briefly playing roles, then resuming something else which is different each time we resume it. “All the world’s a stage . . .” a la Haruki Murakami. An actor hires a female driver, tells her the story of his marriage and loss of his wife. And then sleeps. As a former actor, I love this stuff. As a writer, I sigh a great “ah” at the “Once upon a time” cleanliness of the storytelling and unpredictable outcome. I’m either not the right audience for a nostalgic story about twenty-year-olds, “Yesterday,” or this story doesn’t work. It felt like an homage to a bunch of different writers (Salinger, Woody Allen, Paul McCartney) and frankly, had it not been in this book, I wouldn’t have finished reading it. It felt like really young work that Murakami attempted to revise into something more than it is. “An Independent Organ” is a more mature story than the previous one, but I’m ambivalent about it. Didn’t love or dislike it. Just felt a certain interest but remove about this story of a man discovering his heart, and the notion that women are born with a special ability to lie without feeling guilty. Huh? The next story, “Scheherazade,” was quite intriguing, partly because certain aspects of it were almost identical to a portion of my last novel. Although this story was clean and tightly written, which is one of the attributes of Murakami's novels that I love, the ending just petered out. “Kino” is the story of a guy who’s separated from his heart. The structure is slightly awkward and the theme feels like the kind of thing you might write in college, certain that you are onto profound insights about pain—a precursor to Murakami’s wonderfully mythological and mature novels of quest. This one felt adolescent and therefore I was unmoved by the experience of a character who is unmoved by most normal life connections. [Inner quandary: I’m at the point after “Kino” where I would normally abandon a book. Actually I’ve gone way past that point. I normally would have given up after the second story. But it’s Murakami! I’m mystified by the structural problems (unsolved by an editor), and the adolescent feeling contradicts credits saying that this is new work; some of the stories were published in magazines only a few years ago. Were they old in chronological time at first publication? Did The New Yorker publish “Yesterday” merely because it was Murakami and the writer homage fit their specs? Is Murakami capitalizing on his old work and not worrying about its maturity? I really want to stop reading this, never say anything about it to anyone, and move on. But there are only two stories left. Maybe I’ll like them.] I wonder how many of us writers have a lifelong love affair with Kafka’s The Metamorphosis such that we’ve written homages or parodies. “Samsa in Love” is Murakami’s turn at it, and as a person who adores the Kafka story, I really enjoyed this. Murakami reverses the waking metamorphosis: although he never specifies that Gregor Samsa was formerly a dung beetle who wakes to find himself a man, I assume that is the case. Murakami follows Kafka’s style for this story, and it is lovely. (Maybe someday a publisher will put together a whole book of stories that are an homage to Kafka’s Metamorphosis. If that happens, this one should be included.) And finally, the title story “Men without Women.” This isn’t a story; it’s a rambling, stream-of-conscious inner dialogue about losing one’s first love. Again, I would have left this in the bottom drawer.

  21. 4 out of 5

    ἀρχαῖος (arkhaîos)(RK)

    A somewhat disappointing book of short stories by Murakami. I suppose that this will be the last of his books that I shall read. After a great start, Murakami seems to have become a bad emulator of Murakami. Those quirky little things like the disappearing cat that once entertained me now stroke me as non sequetors that merely frustrate me. Seven stories that neither left an impression nor entertained. They shall quickly fade.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    [3.4+] The first three stories were good and solid but didn't make me feel buoyant like a Murakami novel. And the rest of the stories just left me feeling deflated. That's it? Yet they were all well written. Maybe he just needs more pages. I hate to give Murakami less than 4 stars but how much favoritism can I show?

  23. 4 out of 5

    Seemita

    "No matter how empty it may be, this is still my heart. There’s still some human warmth in it. Memories, like seaweed wrapped around pilings on the beach, wordlessly waiting for high tide. Emotions that, if cut, would bleed. I can’t just let them wander somewhere beyond my understanding." Realization, when takes seed inside, never leaves before blooming in full. While a part of us wants it to get trampled beneath a thousand confused thoughts bubbling within, a part of us does everything possible "No matter how empty it may be, this is still my heart. There’s still some human warmth in it. Memories, like seaweed wrapped around pilings on the beach, wordlessly waiting for high tide. Emotions that, if cut, would bleed. I can’t just let them wander somewhere beyond my understanding." Realization, when takes seed inside, never leaves before blooming in full. While a part of us wants it to get trampled beneath a thousand confused thoughts bubbling within, a part of us does everything possible to pull it beyond all hurdles, to the finishing line. And mostly, its the latter that is more wrecksome despite being (probably) a better alternative. This lovely little short story from Murakami gently unfolds Kino's journey to what he really is from a point where he is comfortably in. The narrative is laced with the trademark Murakami pieces like jazz, cats and intriguing quirk. A thoughtful work, which says that no matter how many people choose to help us, things never get quite right till we decide to help ourselves.

  24. 4 out of 5

    ~Bookishly Numb~

    This was my first delve into Murukami's works, and I thoroughly the experience. This is a wonderful collection of short stories, all based on men suffering from varying degrees of loneliness, despair and grief, because of the loss of a woman, or a lack of them in their lives. Murukami is certainly a master wordsmith, and his characters are dynamic and interesting, and the amount of depth he goes into with the actual character development, is truly astounding. A couple of the stories, I just coul This was my first delve into Murukami's works, and I thoroughly the experience. This is a wonderful collection of short stories, all based on men suffering from varying degrees of loneliness, despair and grief, because of the loss of a woman, or a lack of them in their lives. Murukami is certainly a master wordsmith, and his characters are dynamic and interesting, and the amount of depth he goes into with the actual character development, is truly astounding. A couple of the stories, I just couldn't stop reading until the end, those were "Yesterday" and "An independent organ" The only story that I didn't appreciate was "Men without women"It just didn't give me anything like the others did. I'm actually quite sad that I've come to the end of this book, and I'll definitely be reading more of Murukami's works in the future.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Leo Robertson

    Quick! Name a famous Murakami! Haruki will be the first, sure, but please don't forget about Ryu, Takashi, and I'm sure there are others. LIKE, it's not even like Ryu and Takashi are like, a famous 90s Honda CEO and the inventor of sashimi respectively; they're both ALSO famous ALIVE artists with the surname MURAKAMI! There may be many other talented artistic geniuses named Murakami, but my copy of this book brazenly disavows their cultural existence with its shiny fucking font declaring MURAKAM Quick! Name a famous Murakami! Haruki will be the first, sure, but please don't forget about Ryu, Takashi, and I'm sure there are others. LIKE, it's not even like Ryu and Takashi are like, a famous 90s Honda CEO and the inventor of sashimi respectively; they're both ALSO famous ALIVE artists with the surname MURAKAMI! There may be many other talented artistic geniuses named Murakami, but my copy of this book brazenly disavows their cultural existence with its shiny fucking font declaring MURAKAMI the Murakami-est Murakami (no fuckin' Haruki—they're trying to Madonna the motherfucker!), and the sad truth is that's probably not widely up for debate. In fact the whole way this book is presented is as bland fodder for people who mostly don't read which is what the fuck it is, and I was probably one of them when I discovered THIS Murakami and of all the books I've read recently, this is the only one I was ashamed of being seen in public with. I caught a glimpse of myself in the train's window reflection reading this, with its cover, mottled like a vase from Target, and I was wearing all my non-threatening muted blues and thought I wouldn't look out of place in an Ikea showroom. But I'm not that guy, thank fuck. I'm better than that (and so are you.) Next I will read The Open Pen Anthology, six years' worth of interesting contemporary authors collected by a London literary magazine, for half the price of this book, so many other, more niche and exciting writers' work to discover. I didn't use to know how to find books like that, but I do now, which means I don't have to read books like this one, whose packaging as I have said declares it for people I am not anymore and for that I am thankful. I'm not saying you have to read that particular book instead, but it is far too easy to find 200 pages more deserving of your attention than Murakami's. Far too easy. Try that Edouard Louis book everyone's going crazy about, for example. I bet that's incendiary and awesome. Can't wait to read that one. Don't let this one edge out its better competition by being inoffensive. Like I remember reading some of these in The New Yorker and thinking 'Oh wow you can write like that and get in The New Yorker? Fuck! I could do that.' But of course, no one else would get away with writing stuff this bland. Who would? *whisper with me* MURAKAMI all caps, no first name. No interviews darling, no pictures honey, gotta focus cause I'm gonna be on stage in twenny. And like, everyone's gonna pretend to get it because surely there must be a reason we're all reading it, right? Or at least if you namedrop the only MURAKAMI you'll get clicks on your site. (Because no one will understand why everyone's reading this.) It's simple really: a guy who's more famous than he should be could photocopy himself shitting on glass and people would buy it and what he's done here isn't that far off. Like, I read loads of articles about writing and writers etc every day and whose name can I not avoid? Stephen King's. I read it at least five times a day now and it's like, suck a diiiiiiiiiick, you know? There are other guys!! There are other old straight white horror writers who are also occasionally appreciated in literary circles and give good writing advice, even! Throw another of them a bone next time? Maybe? You only have to toss it like an inch to the left next time. Too much effort? Ah, go fuck yourself. I get now the frustration that writers and readers feel with his fame, with his stories that speak of a kind of wave of international inoffensiveness, borrowing nothingness from one another's cultures to say nothing. It must leave Japanese writers, who are now better than this guy, begging for someone to throw them an ill-advised "exotic", even. Because, you know, if you enjoy reading sometimes but don't spend a lot of time investigating new authors, you need a bit of help from literary institutions to recommend them to you—so how do you find new Japanese authors? Where the hell are they? All you get is this Ikea prop or that book Strange Weather in Tokyo, which wasn't even its name in the first place, they just gave it some kooky-ass "this is what Westerners think Japan is like, anime, teehee"-ass title and some goofy-ass cover and we all snapped that fucker up! And it sucks, by the way! Maybe this all sounds pretty pompous and maybe it is and that makes me sad too. Because Murakami used to be able to generate a feeling no other author could. A weird, dislocated ennui. And sure, he doesn't do short stories well; he works way better in the longer form. But he doesn't do that well anymore either. I hate saying a still-alive author's had his day. It's such a pretentious, bitter, hipster thing to say. But I'm willing to discover things I don't like about myself, discover how much I have grown into what I once hated, by presenting how I honestly feel: Murakami's had his day. He's followed that natural course of a career, the swell, the fall of the tide. I wish he could still generate that feeling. Maybe how I feel about Murakami's career is more akin to the feeling his books used to create for me than any feeling he would be capable of creating in me with new writing. I'm not mad at him; this is just what happens to famous people, just as it happens to powerful people. Artist squibify, politicians wish they could grind up and snort adulation or whatever. And it always will happen. Because famous/powerful people will tell you what it's like to be famous/powerful, that it doesn't turn out to be what you think it will, like, they have the most authority, but they're the last people anyone will listen to because you're like, fuck that, I want fame, money and power! This book will fail to excessively please you or piss you off and that's possibly the worst thing that can be said about a piece of art. For the love of God go read something else. I feel a bit ill. I want this out my house.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Supreeth

    3.5 I guess you never run out of books to read. I've read good chunk of Japanese books. Ryu, Higashino, Kirino, Dazai, Nakamura, Minato, Mishima, but never got into Haruki Murakami. Just a hunch that he wouldn't be my thing. Out of a whim I picked this short story collection to atleast know what all the fuss is about and I think I'm about to read his whole bibliography now. For one thing, i see Japanese being real crazy about Beatles in every single book. As the title says, this collection has bunc 3.5 I guess you never run out of books to read. I've read good chunk of Japanese books. Ryu, Higashino, Kirino, Dazai, Nakamura, Minato, Mishima, but never got into Haruki Murakami. Just a hunch that he wouldn't be my thing. Out of a whim I picked this short story collection to atleast know what all the fuss is about and I think I'm about to read his whole bibliography now. For one thing, i see Japanese being real crazy about Beatles in every single book. As the title says, this collection has bunch of lonely men, apparently, without women, in one or the other way. Drive my car - 3/5 Yesterday - 5/5 An independent organ - 4/5 Scheherzade - 4/5 Kino - skipped. Samsa in love - 5/5 Men without women - 2/5

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce

    I always love Murakami's work. I sometimes do not understand it fully but his flow of words, his use of metaphor, and his writing is mesmerizing. Putting together seven short stories in this book, underlines this most talented author. Each one of them is a story of a man alone, without a woman to be their guide through life. Told in his usual mysterious style and with always a nod to humor, Marakami presents the reader with lots to think about as he takes us on this journey that his male charact I always love Murakami's work. I sometimes do not understand it fully but his flow of words, his use of metaphor, and his writing is mesmerizing. Putting together seven short stories in this book, underlines this most talented author. Each one of them is a story of a man alone, without a woman to be their guide through life. Told in his usual mysterious style and with always a nod to humor, Marakami presents the reader with lots to think about as he takes us on this journey that his male characters traverse without the women they have come to love in their own special way. Mesmerizing and beautiful these seven tales will appeal to those of us who love his work with their cats, Beatles' lyrics, whiskey, characters without names, and certainly that special oddness that we have come to expect in his writings.

  28. 4 out of 5

    L.S. Popovich

    Beginning a series of reviews I will do for Murakami, though I'm arriving late to the party, what with the plethora of reviews out there. I've been a fan since high school and through college. His short stories have a very different feel than his novels in my opinion. With his stories, it is best to "feel" them, rather than to analyze them. Often, they are puzzling, eccentric, funny, and almost always enjoyable in some fashion. His 4 collections of stories in English so far, this being the latest Beginning a series of reviews I will do for Murakami, though I'm arriving late to the party, what with the plethora of reviews out there. I've been a fan since high school and through college. His short stories have a very different feel than his novels in my opinion. With his stories, it is best to "feel" them, rather than to analyze them. Often, they are puzzling, eccentric, funny, and almost always enjoyable in some fashion. His 4 collections of stories in English so far, this being the latest, are all more than worth the read. You could argue that After the Quake, with its deep and unsettling themes, might be the best collection, but it is the shortest and most unified. Blind Willow and Elephant also deserve their own reviews, where I might touch on theme, motif, and other facets to be found in his writing. At bottom, most attempts at interpretation of his work will be deeply personal. That is, people either love it or hate it. Most critics don't know what to make of his vast popularity. Murakami's obsession with Kafka and The Beatles is evident in this slim volume, which bears the same English name as one of Hemingway's short story collections (intentionally?) You get a decent amount of variety in this one, though I wish it had been much longer. It is a well-dressed selection of his recent work, nearly all of which I had read in the New Yorker online prior to this book's publication. If you don't know, Murakami consistently publishes stories in The New Yorker before releasing a book of them. Don't ask me why he does this. I imagine a lot of money is changing hands in the process. The recent stories, post-Killing Commendatore have not been up to par if you ask me. I am predicting he will release a music-centric collection in the future, since the sneak peaks are steering steadily in that direction. His entire oeuvre is music-focused in one way or another. It pervades his whole spirit and creative mind. His prose rhythm is also jazzy, rhythmic and pretty addictive. Yet, the few instances where he elevates his storytelling to sublime heights are the moments I look for in his writing, where so much of it speaks of everyday, ennui-laced, nostalgic people and mundane, melodramatic conflicts. He slides into the weird inevitably, into Lynchian territory, without a word or excuse. But this collection focusses more on the real. In the end I was not fully satisfied with it, only because he has pulled these tricks before, in some cases with more success. My favorite story was "Drive My Car," though that is likely to change. Every time I reread one of the collections I discover new likes, dislikes and uncertainties. My rabid enthusiasm has been subsiding with each subsequent publication after 1Q84, which I am afraid to reread or review, for fear of what it will do to my tarnishing view of his greater works. Murakami has a way of being effortlessly thought-provoking, even when he's pulling your chain.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vicky "phenkos"

    4.5 stars, really enjoyed this! My first encounter with Murakami was several years ago when I read Audition. I remember disliking that book intensely because I found it conveyed an unoriginal and problematic view of women - women as dangerous predators - so I decided never to read another book by Murakami again. However, the front cover and title of this one appealed to me (my copy has a different front cover from the one depicted on here, it's a circle cut in two halves that don't fit together, 4.5 stars, really enjoyed this! My first encounter with Murakami was several years ago when I read Audition. I remember disliking that book intensely because I found it conveyed an unoriginal and problematic view of women - women as dangerous predators - so I decided never to read another book by Murakami again. However, the front cover and title of this one appealed to me (my copy has a different front cover from the one depicted on here, it's a circle cut in two halves that don't fit together, a symbolism, I suppose, of a broken relationship). I decided to have another go at this extremely successful author whom everyone, it seemed, liked, but me. I was enthralled from the first few pages, the writing was genuine and accomplished, and I couldn't find much evidence of the misogynistic attitude that had marred my previous reading experience. I was intrigued. Had I changed or had Murakami changed? I couldn't figure it out, so I checked Audition again. Heck, the name on the cover was Ryu Murakami, not Haruki! What an idiot! I'd refused to read Murakami because I hadn't bothered to read carefully the author's first name! And boy, is (Haruki) Murakami worth reading! The stories included in this collection are all about the theme of men without women. The first story 'Drive My Car' is about an ageing actor whose wife has died. Because of eyesight issues he hires a young woman to drive him around, mainly to the theatre and back. Neither of them is very talkative but one day the driver asks him about his life and the man opens up. 'Yesterday' is about the friendship of two young men -- just past adolescence -- who work at the same coffee shop. The narrator studies at college whilst Kitaru, his friend, studies to pass his university entrance exams. However, he doesn't study hard and has already failed to pass his exams twice. He's a strange sort, this Kitaru; he speaks in the Kansai dialect (which the narrator knows because he's from Kansai but never speaks himself because he lives in Tokyo). But Kitaru is not from Kansai, and only has the accent because he taught himself to speak it. I guess this is a bit like speaking Geordie in Oxford, not because one is from 'up north' but because one has made that choice. The story I liked best was called 'Scheherazade' and is about a woman who tells the narrator a story every time they've had sex. One of these stories is about how this woman, who as a teenager had fallen for a classmate, was so frustrated by this boy's complete lack of interest that she decided to break into his house. She broke into his house three times, and each time she stole something of his. She was very aware of the risks she was taking -- after all, this was criminal activity in a small town where everyone would talk if she was caught -- and yet she felt she had no choice but continue to break in to her love interest's bedroom. I was very interested in this conflict, where you know the consequences are going to be dire if you get caught, yet, you cannot help yourself. I think as adults we tend to be more 'mature', weigh up the consequences, and rarely stray, but there is in every single one of us this 'crazy' streak that does not abide to 'law and order', to what is right and wrong, even when we are fully aware of the consequences and even dread them. Many of these stories were like this, such as, for instance, 'Kino', which, like 'Scheherazade' was about the split between what we consciously think and how we suppress our unconscious hurt and desire to fit more' mature', more 'adult' expectations. At the same time, Murakami is a master of the short story genre and leaves just enough to the imagination. We can see Raymond Carver's influence here, but also Kafka's. In fact, one of the stories is about someone or something becoming Gregor Samsa, the character in Kafka's 'Metamorphosis'. In that sense, these stories are not like minute novels that bring meaning and an element of completion upon the human condition, but rather like snapshots, allowing us to catch glimpses of other lives -- glimpses that are disconnected, ambiguous, enigmatic, often puzzling, always suggestive.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    Additional Note: Hemingway also wrote similarly titled book which was also a set of short stories. His approach is different, and to me it was better (three star review from me) than Murakami's effort. Original Review: This is the tenth book I've read by this author, and thus Murakami enters a small group of writers with whom I've shared/read at least ten works. But none of them have won a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize (I have read nine books, though, by John Updike, and he has won two very deserving Pu Additional Note: Hemingway also wrote similarly titled book which was also a set of short stories. His approach is different, and to me it was better (three star review from me) than Murakami's effort. Original Review: This is the tenth book I've read by this author, and thus Murakami enters a small group of writers with whom I've shared/read at least ten works. But none of them have won a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize (I have read nine books, though, by John Updike, and he has won two very deserving Pulitzers). I strongly suspect there is reverse link between the number of books an author produces and the awards received by that author. "Men Without Women" is not a particularly weak work (like this author's "Hard-Boiled Wonderland," which I rated one star, as the only thing I could remember afterwards was a "plump girl in pink") but this book is no where near the quality of his "Norwegian Wood", my favorite Murakami so far. To me, the key to Murakami's best is his ability to move me to a different plane of existence, one that is not describable: a sustained, atonal song/work like no other author. But Murakami doesn't do much of anything here: it's almost as if these stories could have been written by any other good writer. I will eventually read everything this author has published, as I'm looking for his 5-star masterpiece and I know it's there or will be shortly. But this book feels like a reply to a publisher (and a world of fans) waiting impatiently for the next "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage" which is the first book I read by this author over two years ago: I was instantly hooked. But this set of short stories just didn't satisfy my addiction for Murakami's sensationally odd worlds.

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