Review: Dance, Dance, Dance by Haruki Murakami

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I love this book, a new favorite from Murakami. But I honestly don’t know where to start with this review! As usual, he leaves me confused but still, this is one book that I really connected with. WHY. IS. HE. SO. GOOD.

A sequel to A Wild Sheep Chase, this book was still narrated by a nameless man. We follow him as he tries and blends back into society years after his adventures in the mountains up in Sapporo. This man is lost, confused and to say the least, stuck. He is living, yet he is not alive. He lives a mediocre life, content with what comes along his way, he just continues to shovel snow. The adventure starts when he decides to find his ex-girlfriend, Kiki, who mysteriously disappeared in A Wild Sheep Chase. It is through this adventure where he reconnects with an old friend, meets a dysfunctional yet special family and finally figures out what he truly wants in his life.

Things I like:

The continuity of the story. The same nameless guy narrates to us his story as he tries to find Kiki. We continue the story years after but we find him in a sort of trance. It’s always comforting for me to read sequels of books. Especially when it’s from Murakami! It’s extremely nice to find out what happened to the nameless narrator after going through such mysterious and life changing events. Don’t fret, however, if you haven’t read A Wild Sheep Chase, you can still enjoy Dance, Dance, Dance.

His take on modern society. Before moving on, I would like to emphasize that this book was first published in January 1994. That’s more than a decade ago but if you look at the way the author describes society it hits all the right buttons (if not more). I loved how he discussed capitalism and its effect on society. I absolutely loved reading how the narrator despises the system but has no choice but to succumb to it – much like how I feel about it. I ended up with tons of notes as the narrator talks about his distaste, and at times fascination, for advanced capitalism.

“Latter-day capitalism. Like it or not, it’s the society we live in. Even the standard of right and wrong has been subdi-vided, made sophisticated. Within good, there’s fashionable good and unfash-ionable good, and ditto for bad. Within fashionable good, there’s formal and then there’s casual; there’s hip, there’s cool, there’s trendy, there’s snobbish. Mix ‘n’ match. Like pulling on a Missoni sweater over Trussardi slacks and Pollini shoes, you can now enjoy hybrid styles of morality. It’s the way of the world—philosophy starting to look more and more like business administration.
Although I didn’t think so at the time, things were a lot simpler in 1969. All you had to do to express yourself was throw rocks at riot police. But with today’s sophistication, who’s in a position to throw rocks? Who’s going to brave what tear gas? C’mon, that’s the way it is. Everything is rigged, tied into that massive capital web, and beyond this web there’s another web. Nobody’s going anywhere. You throw a rock and it’ll come right back at you.”

Death, in all its glory. I was mostly reading this while I was watching over my father. How apt was it that I was reading about death when my father was there fighting death?

The narrator was faced with multiple deaths in this book. A grim reminder of how fast life can be over and how we should cherish people while we’re still living. I’d like to talk about his friend, Gotunda. He was a former classmate of the narrator and now a famous actor who is madly in love with his ex-wife. He is the only link the narrator has with Kiki. As the story developed we find out that Gotunda is a slave to society, a prime example of someone who lived his life, not for himself. He was always afraid of making decisions for himself and he ended up wasting his life and regretted everything. This storyline touched me the most. Most of us make the most common mistake of taking the easy choices and not standing up for what we want – a typical life story. A daring reminder to his readers that every decision we make in our lives count. In the end, all that matters is how happy and fulfilled we are. You might end up with everything another person can possibly ask for but if you don’t have what YOU really want, it doesn’t count.

The overall lesson I came up with on my own. This book reminded me that no matter how unfortunate circumstances might be, I still had to live. I had to keep on dancing and keep the music going. I had to continue fighting and search for life’s ultimate meaning. Sometimes you have to let life take its course but we must never allow ourselves to cease living. We all have our own set of problems but it’s how we react to it that matters.

“Dance,” said the Sheep Man. “Yougottadance. Aslongasthemusicplays. Yougotta dance. Don’teventhinkwhy. Starttothink, yourfeetstop. Yourfeetstop, wegetstuck. Wegetstuck, you’restuck. Sodon’tpayanymind, nomatterhowdumb. Yougottakeepthestep. Yougottalimberup. Yougottaloosenwhatyoubolteddown. Yougottauseallyougot. Weknowyou’re tired, tiredandscared. Happenstoeveryone, okay? Justdon’tletyourfeetstop.”

Don’t let death scare you. Don’t let the bad times beat you down. Remember what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.


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