'Men Without Women' Is Quintessential Murakami

'Men Without Women' Is Quintessential Murakami

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

“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

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College Student Costume Party Ideas & Tips

Are you thinking of throwing a costume party on or off campus with your fellow classmates?

Before you start doing any planning, you’ll need to come up with some kind of a theme. As long as it’s something that would appeal to the majority of college students, it can be just about anything. Once you’ve decided what yours will be, you can start telling all your friends about the great party you’re about to throw for them. Here are some ideas to get you there.

Pirate Theme

Dressing like a pirate has become a popular trend nowadays and not without good reason. Pirates are respected individuals of the past and have a reputation for being both mysterious and in touch with their wild side. Can you think of anyone like this? As college students, you and your friends may find these to be familiar traits of your own, too. A room full of young people dressed as pirates sounds downright intriguing. Your guests are sure to play their roles well even if they aren’t any good at acting.

Medieval Characters

If you’re not into the whole pirate theme, you can always try a Medieval costume party. I’ve seen plenty of these on offer at Costume Collection so you shouldn’t have trouble finding the one to match your party theme. Since the costumes are quite unique and inviting all on their own, you won’t have to rely so much on your actual invitations for getting your friends to come. Whether you or your classmates choose to be a Medieval princess or a simple peasant, you can further set the theme, by using glassware that looks just like the ones that were used in that era. 

As a matter of fact, you can incorporate the theme into the food you’ll be serving in a few different ways. Cupcake sword and shield toppers, for example, will both excite and amuse your guests like nothing else will. You can be extremely creative with the Medieval theme. For this reason, your party will be a big success with even your hardest to please college friend.

Anime Characters

Your anime lover friends will absolutely love you for this, so don’t be afraid to clearly overdo it on this one. Ninjas, school girls, and demons, are all welcome guests at this party. White, vampire inspired candles with dripping blood and ninja star napkins are sure to impress these partygoers. If you want to make your costume party stand out from the others your friends have been to, you can try some of these ideas. You’ll make the overall atmosphere of the party even more fun, by getting everyone together to act out a scene or two from your favorite anime or manga.

What kind of a costume party do you want to throw? Now that you have some ideas, you can choose your favorite one and start planning for it. Whether you decide to go with the pirate, Medieval, or anime theme, your goal should be to make your party truly memorable. By achieving this, you can be confident that your guests will come to your next one and to the one after that. Also, it'll be great to be remembered as that cool college guy or girl that knew how to throw the best parties. By following these tips, you can make your party successful and your reputation shine.

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30 Classic Vines To Awaken Your Once-Lifeless Soul

Vine is coming back and so is my happiness.

Vine, the beloved social media outlet that could turn six, short seconds into endless laughter. Every time someone quotes a vine, my once lifeless soul, is shortly awoken. When I hear the sweet sounds of "He on X games mode" or "I'm in me mum's car, broom broom," my eyes lighten-up and my heart skips a beat.

On behalf of society, I think it's reasonable for me to say: We miss you Vine.

We miss Gavin, Jared, Mrs. Kesha, and all the other weirdos Vine has blessed us with. But, as it's said, "in every darkness there's a light," and this light is Vine 2. Since there has been talk of Vine making a comeback, I have decided to create a list of some iconic vines that make me feel less deceased on the inside. Here are 30 Vines everyone needs in their life!

^ Vine resurrecting from its Internet grave and coming back into our lives.

1. "I love you biiiiitch, I ain't ever gonna stop loving you, BIIITCH"


This vine taught me that chivalry is, in fact, not dead.

2. "What up, I'm Jared, I'm 19.."

To this day I wonder if Jared ever learned how to read.

3. Take On Me Girl

4. The adorable avocado kid

This kid that taught all of us to always appreciate our Christmas gifts, even if it is just a single avocado.

5. FR E SH A VOCA DO

6. "Hi, my name is Trey"

We are all rooting for you Trey. I hope you still have shoe game.

7. I AM CONFUSION

I say "I AM CONFUSION" about 50 times a day.

8. IRIDOCYCLITIS

9. Corbin Bleu from Jump In?

An honest mistake.

10. Wow

I cannot say the word "wow" without saying it in his voice.

11. I can't swim

12. Barbecue Sauce

A personal favorite.

13. "Okay"

14. Chipotle

This one's for all my basic girls out there.^

15. Gavin

The poster child of Vine.

16. Adam!

17. This is my jam

Everyone loves a good dad joke.

18. Would you please not eat my pants?

College is the goat and I am the woman.

19. It's freakin bats

God bless the seasonal vines.

20. Mrs. Kesha

Everyone loves Mrs. Kesha.

21. Chili's

This is gold.

22. Saxophone King

Such beauty. Such grace.

23. A potato flew around my room

Wow. What a deep song.

24. If your name is Junior

We all deserve to be as confident as Junior.

25. That is not correct

26. I wanna take a nap

Me 24/7.

27. Country boy I love you

This is actually me from when I was in middle school.

Just kidding.

28. When no one in the group chat answers you

Happens to all of us.

29. Two shots of vodka

30. Hello

Cover Image Credit: esthervargasc / Flickr

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