Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami
Nothing to learn but plenty to love about Murakami's latest anti-machismo collection.
Ostensibly inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s collection of stories of the same name, Haruki Murakami’s latest offering could quite easily be viewed as a microcosm of his own literature. In these seven tales, we encounter men who fall in love with women, who have been jilted by them and who are entirely too nervous within their own skin to even get close enough for the jilting to be conceivable… just like in all of his novels.
All of Murakami’s tropes are here in full force: the lonely male protagonist, the mysterious female who beguiles and betrays, a preoccupation with ‘simple meals’ and an obsession with the Fab Four (two of the stories in the collection are even named after Beatles hits). Fans of his writing will revel in this unoriginal but highly engaging assortment of characters, and while two of the collection are entirely new works, Murakami says very little he hasn’t already said a thousand times over.
Of course, to berate him for repeating his wildly successful formula would be churlish, to say the least. He might be something of a one-trick pony, but the trick is sufficiently impressive to keep us all coming back for more with eager appetites. What’s more, his mastery of the cliffhanger ending – always enticing, never satisfying – is multiplied sevenfold with each new story; expect to be enrapt, just don’t expect resolution. [Jonny Sweet]