Haruki Murukami – Dance Dance Dance
Murukami usually arouses contradictory feelings in me. I love his writing style, but I hate stories where impossible events happen. I have no problem with unlikely or improbable plot twists, (indeed many of my favourite authors depend on them) or sci-fi/fantasy books that from the start posit a different reality. But I dislike following a realistic narrative only for something extraordinary to be mixed in. And Murakami likes to do that, a great deal.
But although such elements are present in Dance Dance Dance, they don’t affect the storyline. Which is an engrossing one, with engaging characters. None of the characters or their relationships with each other really convince but it doesn’t really matter; while the traditional whodunit element is undermined by the main character fundamentally not caring who did it, beyond the extent to which it effects himself. This is a common pose in detective story anti-heroes, but its refreshing to see it being stuck to, rather than being undermined by better instincts or love.
P.G. Wodehouse – The Girl in Blue
Although Wodehouse was amazingly consistent in quality over a very lengthy career, his milieu of the idle rich worked better in their untroubled pre-World War 2 idyll. After that, with their stately homes only kept up for Americans to rent and good domestic staff hard to find, his inconsequential froth begins to jar slightly against reality.
So, finding that the heroine in this story is an air hostess is a disappointment. Air travel should have no part in Wodehouse’s world. He’s also guilty of pinching jokes from earlier works (the joke about arriving slowly because of needing spikes and running shoes was also in Do Butlers Burgle Banks).
Despite this, reading Wodehouse is never hard work, and anyone who doesn’t get a warm fuzzy feeling from passages like this…
“Hullo! Is there something wrong, darling? You look like a startled codfish. Suits you, of course. Very becoming. But it gives me the idea that something has happened to upset you.”
…is missing out