[Review] Desire - Haruki Murakami

Title of Book: Desire: Vintage Minis
Author: Haruki Murakami
Publisher: Vintage Classics
Publication Year: 2017
Translator: Jay Rubin, Ted Goosse, Philip Gabriel
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 128

You’ve just passed someone on the street who could be the love of your life, the person you’re destined for – what do you do? In Murakami’s world, you tell them a story. The five weird and wonderful tales collected here each unlock the many-tongued language of desire, whether it takes the form of hunger, lust, sudden infatuation or the secret longings of the heart.
Selected from Haruki’s Murakami’s short story collections The Elephant Vanishes, Blind Willow Sleeping Woman and Men Without Women.


Desire is one of vintage minis edition which collects short stories from famous author based on a particular theme. Desire is a collection of Haruki Murakami’s short stories and as the title suggests, it centers on the theme of desire, need, or wanting from hunger to lust and love. Desire consists of five short stories taken from Murakami’s collections titled The Elephant Vanishes, Blind Willow Sleeping Woman, and Men Without Women.

The first story in this book is called The Second Bakery Attack. It’s about a couple who went to rob a McDonalds to satiate their hunger. The Second Bakery Attack is so bizarre but fascinating to read. One of the things that struck me weird is how the wife is so prepared with ski mask and gun when the husband claimed that his wife had no interest in skiing and shooting. It's either the wife has a hidden desire or the husband doesn't really know his wife. Maybe the husband just doesn’t know his wife that well.

The second short story, On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning is the one mentioned at the back cover of the book. It's my second favorite short story from this collection. It's about the narrator's experience on passing a girl whom he thought was his soulmate. While walking, he thought of several scenarios on how to approach the girl and engage her in a conversation. Half of this story is written in the first person which puts us in his position. I personally think it's an interesting story that toys around with the idea of destiny and true love.

Birthday Girl tells a tale about a girl who met a mysterious man on her twentieth birthday. The man told her that he would grant her wish. Birthday Girl is a story within the story. It starts out with an unnamed girl who had to spend her twentieth birthday working. Since her manager was sick that day, she covered for him to serve dinner to the mysterious owner of the restaurant. Upon knowing that it was the girl's birthday, the owner then told her that he would grant her one wish, any kind of wish. This whole tale was told by the girl to the narrator of the story years later. In this story, Murakami manages to write a whimsical story with no resolution but left me satisfied. We never find out what the girl's wish was until the end of the story. But then again, isn't wish supposed to be kept secret if you want it to come true?

On another hand, Samsa in Love is another unusual short story in this collection. It's basically a reverse tale of Kafka's Metamorphosis. Since I haven't read Metamorphosis, I can't speak anything about it. Still, Samsa in Love is as odd as Kafka's book, I can tell you that much. It started out with a man who woke up in a room not remembering anything else besides his name, which is Gregor Samsa. It seems like he's being reborn as he doesn't even remember human's basic capabilities. As he explored the room and the house, he started to feel human's basic needs including human's need to procreate. It's such a strange story and sad at the same time. Based on the details given throughout the story, we'll learn that somehow Gregor Samsa is estranged from his family. With this story, Murakami craftily wrote a sympathetic character without giving too much background on him.

The last story, A Folklore for My Generation: A Prehistory of Late-Stage Capitalism, is my most favorite short story from this collection. It is also the longest one in this collection. To me, this story reads like an article rather than a short fiction. It tells a specific experience of a specific person, but it's written in a way that makes it universal and relatable.

All of the short stories in this mini collection have some dreamlike quality which is not surprising for Murakami. These stories are not for all people, but for those who are interested in trying Murakami out I recommend starting with this book.

What I wanted was to be one with her, with nothing coming between us.


No comments :

Post a Comment