Book Review: The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

The Strange Library by Haruki MurakamiThe Strange Library: What it is about

From the publishers: “Opening the flaps on this unique little book, readers will find themselves immersed in the strange world of best-selling Haruki Murakami’s wild imagination. The story of a lonely boy, a mysterious girl, and a tormented sheep man plotting their escape from a nightmarish library, the book is like nothing else Murakami has written. Designed by Chip Kidd and fully illustrated, in full color, throughout, this small format, 96 page volume is a treat for book lovers of all ages.

The Strange Library: What I thought

This is a long short story in a remarkable little book. To open it, you fold the flap at the front upwards, and the flap below it downwards. The text begins on the front page, which feels like it should be an additional cover page. But it’s not. There’s the text, in a kind of courier style, as if type written. There are many page-sized pictures in beautiful colors. What all these pictures mean is not always clearly visible but it’s a pleasure to the eyes.

The story itself is a simple one: A boy goes to the library to borrow a book and gets locked up inside. In order to be released, he has to carry out an impossible task. But there is a girl who may help him.

This is definitely a Murakami story. There is a lot of mystery (who are these people in the library, what do they want of the boy, why don’t his parents wonder where he is, etc.) and the story has a dream-like quality.

A pleasure for the eyes and for the reading mind. Any book lover will need a copy of this book, but Murakami lovers need it yesterday.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (good to very good)

Number of pages: 96

First published: 2014

I got this book: from my local bookstore

Genre: short story, surrealism

Also read by this authorThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Hear the Wind Sing (and many more, unreviewed, books)


Book Review: The Way Inn by Will Wiles

The Way Inn by Will WilesThe Way Inn: What it is about

From the publishers: “Neil Double is a “conference surrogate,” hired by his clients to attend industry conferences so that they don’t have to. It’s a life of budget travel, cheap suits, and out-of-town exhibition centers—a kind of paradise for Neil, who has reconstructed his incognito professional life into a toxic and selfish personal philosophy. But his latest job, at a conference of conference organizers, will radically transform him and everything he believes as it unexpectedly draws him into a bizarre and speculative mystery.

In a brand new Way Inn—a global chain of identikit mid-budget motels—in an airport hinterland, he meets a woman he has seen before in strange and unsettling circumstances. She hints at an astonishing truth about this mundane world filled with fake smiles and piped muzak. But before Neil can learn more, she vanishes. Intrigued, he tries to find her—a search that will lead him down the rabbit hole, into an eerily familiar place where he will discover a dark and disturbing secret about the Way Inn. Caught on a metaphysical Mobius strip, Neil discovers that there may be no way out.”

The Way Inn: What I thought

The idea that someone would be a conference surrogate was fun in itself. Neil doesn’t get to do much conferencing, though, because he gets into trouble with the organizers. And the hotel, which seemed like a safe haven at first, turns out to be troubled, and wants to make Neil an eternal guest. Is there more than one room 219? There must be, since Neil’s key card works sometimes but not other times. And when he gets lost in the hotel, he sees sunshine in the middle of the night. There is something odd going on and Neil expects the woman who ran away from him can help.

This is a fun story in which the Way Inn hotel is one of the characters. The story is based around the fact that all hotels from a chain are all very similar and easy to get lost in.

It’s a little long-winded but I loved the fun ideas in this novel. There is a great scene outside the hotel, when Neil tries to get to the other side of the highway, and wonders if it’s still suicide if you get killed by a car on your way to the bridge that you’re planning to jump off. The man has some fun insights!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (good)

Number of pages: 352

First published: 2014

I got this: for review from Harper Perennial (uncorrected proof)

Genre: contemporary fiction


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