'Men Without Women' Is Quintessential Murakami

'Men Without Women' Is Quintessential Murakami

A review of the prolific author's latest short story collection.
23
views

“Men Without Women” is the latest short story collection from acclaimed writer (and possible madman) Haruki Murakami. The seven short stories in this collection take his usual motifs of musical references, literary nods, weird sex and foreboding unreality and put them to use analyzing the lives and thoughts of men separated from, or simply longing for, women in one way or another.

In “Drive My Car,” the opening story, an actor opens up to his new female driver about befriending one of his dead wife’s multiple paramours. “An Independent Organ” follows the decline and death by starvation of a plastic surgeon who finds himself head over heels for a women who, ultimately, leaves both him and her husband for a third man. Even stories where there is a consistent female presence like “Scheherazade” (a reference to the storytelling character from “One Thousand and One Nights”) find the central male character with a state of longing or a fear of loss.

There is melancholy here, even in the most absurd of stories, and mysticism in even the most mundane. The two most quintessentially ‘Murakami’ stories, “Kino” and “Samsa in Love” explore the collection’s themes with a cool and controlled sort of surrealism. The type of mundanity spiked with magic and dream-like atmosphere that he has become known for over his multiple decades writing novels and short stories.

While the first three stories, the more realistic of the bunch, are enjoyable and strong the collection doesn’t reach its heights until after “Scheherazade” the fourth story and the sort of halfway point of the book. “Scheherazade” acts as a bridge between the realism of the first three stories and the heavier magical realism of the last half. The fifth story, “Kino,” tells of a man whose wife cheats on him, leading him to quit his job and open a small jazz bar. By the end of it he is locked alone in a hotel room trying to hide from some unknowable, nightmarish being or concept bearing down on the door and window, hiding under the covers as a child might. As absurd as this progression may sound Murakami’s writing makes it feel like an utterly natural transition.

The most absurd story, and my personal favorite aside from “Kino,” is hands down “Samsa in Love” which takes Franz Kafka’s classic novella “The Metamorphosis” and flips it around in the most Murakami way possible. In “The Metamorphosis” a traveling salesman named Gregor Samsa wakes to find himself transformed into a large, horrendous insect. No explanation is ever given and the story focuses on his internal struggles with what he has become and his family’s attempts to figure out what to do with him. Murakami’s take on Kafka is a complete reversal, finding Gregor Samsa awakening as a human with no memory and a cloudy mind. It is heavily implied that he has transformed from an insect into a man instead of the other way around. What follows is an attempt to figure out how to use his body and a bizarre semi-sexual, emotionally curious interaction with a hunchbacked female locksmith.

As usual if somebody has no love for Murakami’s works then they likely won’t find anything much to jar them out of their distaste in “Men Without Women,” but for those who are curious or who are already invested in his writing it contains another extended jaunt into the weird and thoughtful. A parallel world of casual (bizarre) sex, meandering dreams, death, and abundant melancholia.

Cover Image Credit: NY Daily News

Popular Right Now

15 Texts We'd Get From Dogs If They Had Thumbs

"If you're reading this, send Milk Bones."
11979
views

Let's be real, anyone who has a dog knows that it if we could, we would text our dogs all day long. If they could text us, our thread would look something like...

1. "Are you coming home soon?! Let's go out!"

2. "So not to be weird... but you never ended up answering me last night... Am I the good boy? Idk I just want to be clear on our relationship I don't want to be lead on if I'm not."

3. "The cat is being such a bit** I literally can't stand her"

4. "Hey, just wondering, are you going to wear those black booties tonight? If you are, I'll chew the zipper out of the brown ones instead."

5. "Okay, so don't freak out, but something not so chill happened on the rug..."

6. "Are there any leftovers in the trash? I'm not gonna get into it, I was just curious. Love u."

7. "If you're reading this... bring Milk Bones."

8. "Hey, what's for dinner tonight?! Purina again?"

9. "Miss you!!"

10. "Are you gonna eat that food on the counter or is that for everyone? Asking for the cat."

11. "I LOVE YOU"

12. "OMG, I can't wait for you to come home on break! Can you sleep in the guest room tho? Mom said I could have your room when you moved out. Love u!"

13. "Ice cream date later?!"

14. "We should go for a walk I need to get my ass back in shape for summer. You should be my workout buddy!"

15. "Netflix and chill tonight?"

Cover Image Credit: Salon

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

What Your Favorite Thanksgiving Food Says About You

What Thanksgiving food is your favorite?

177
views

As Thanksgiving is fast approaching and family members start rolling with loads of food in tow, figure out what your favorite Thanksgiving food says about you.

1. The Turkey

Thanksgiving Oven Roasted Turkey photo by Alison Marras (@foodbymars) on Unsplash

unsplash.com

You are a traditionalist, you are dependable as well as patient. You depend on your dish to be there and you are patient as others argue over dark to light as you know there will be plenty to go around after the mad rush is over.

2. The Stuffing

The Grains of Life Holiday Treat photo by Chelsea shapouri (@thegrainsoflife) on Unsplash

unsplash.com

You are the warm and fuzzy type, you enjoy the coziest of all dishes which can sometimes leave you emotionally exhausted. You believe in true love and if you haven't found it you are still probably looking for that missing Turkey in your life.

3. The Mash Potatoes 

Potato, pattern, shadow and light HD photo by Lars Blankers (@lmablankers) on Unsplash

unsplash.com

While some will consider you basic and they aren't wrong in thinking so but you do occasionally add some spice to your daily planned out routine. The pondering question of to add gray or to not does add a little mix into your life.

4. The Rolls

Yeast buns with jam photo by Monika Grabkowska (@moniqa) on Unsplash

unsplash.com

You enjoy the simple things in life, even the simplest of things bring you great joy and happiness. Fall is full of the little things that make you happy the color changing of leaves, the giggle of a baby at your family gathering, fall is a wonderful time for you.

5. The Cranberry Dish

Rustic Cranberry Pie photo by Food Photographer | Jennifer Pallian (@foodess) on Unsplash

unsplash.com

You are sweet and sassy, when life becomes tart you sugar coat your problems in a way that keeps you from having to deal with them directly. So as the weather begins to get icy think about meeting your problems head on!

6. The Vegetable 

Plate of vegetables photo by Joyce (@squarebowls) on Unsplash

unsplash.com

You are conscious, you feel the holidays are no reason to get crazy and forget all about your healthy eating. You gladly signed up for this year's turkey trot because getting healthy is always a conscious choice!

7. The Pie

Pie, pumpkin pie, slice and plate HD photo by Element5 Digital (@element5digital) on Unsplash

unsplash.com

You are quite the rebel whether you show it or keep it in the inside you know you want your dessert first! You enjoy having fun and don't feel like waiting around to have your pie and eat it, too.

Related Content

Facebook Comments