The Wild Sheep Chase
It's a book by Haruki Murakami, not me looking for love in all the wrong and woolly places. Murakami is one of the most famous authors in Japan. Or so I'm told. In any event, he writes really farking well. Most Japanese literature, when translated to English, has a flow and a rhythm, a cadence almost, that I think is just the bee's knees. One of my journalism professors from college stressed getting the words to sing, and Japanese-to-English translations just seem to sing right off the page. Murakami takes the enchanting solo of J. to E. translation and turns it into a choir, enigmatic yet engrossing. "The Wild Sheep Chase" does have sheep, for those of you with ovine issues, but it's really about loneliness and being alone. No matter how strong your connection is to someone, they're not in your head, and you're not in theirs. Also burbling just below the surface is one of the most curious things about Japan: in a country practically overrun with people, a lot of them sure seem to be lonely. Yeah, it's a generalization that's probably true of just about everyplace on Earth, it's part of the human condition. But I find it particularly poignant here, where there are so many people that are so well-off in such a small space. The backdrops of crowded Tokyo and comparatively unpeopled Hokkaido provide interesting contrasts against which being alone is painted. And that's the nut of the book. Whereever you go, with friends or lovers or alone, there is nobody with you. And that's the way we all are.