Haruki Murakami’s The Strange Library was available on Amazon‘s special sale. For half of its original price. I rushed to acquire. Also, if I didn’t mention before, I am a sucker for Murakami’s books. Why would I wait? 🙂
My edition of The Strange Library is fully illustrated by Chip Kidd. Every page was like a black hole. It sucked me in, and I didn’t have the heart to turn pages. I ran my fingers on every illustration, turned pages delicately, and told myself, “I think this is a collector’s item.” 🙂 The book seemed to have been designed by a team, who loved Murakami’s words, and who knew how to play with readers’ minds to enhance their reading experience.
Story-wise, The Strange Library is only mildly Murakami. It is Murakami minus some of his motifs. But that is not a complaint really. The story flowed smoothly (just like every other Murakami work), and I often thought, “This man must have enjoyed writing it. He must have leaned back on his chair, and smiled often.” Also, every now and then, The Strange Library reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s books. Especially Coraline, Neverwhere, The Graveyard Book, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I have always found some similarities between Gaiman’s and Murakami’s themes. It seemed so strong in The Strange Library, for Murakami has made it adventurous, memorable, but less melancholic. Murakami hasn’t employed his signature style — that makes the reader pensive, introspective, and if I may say, slightly depressed — in The Strange Library. (Save the last few pages though.)
The book is just 96 pages long, and perhaps shorter than a novelette. A thrilling read all the same. Getting lost in a dark, strange place, and being accompanied by queer people later, would just do to scare the living daylights out of a child. 🙂
Some favourites illustrations and passages here:
“The world follows its own course. Each possesses his own thoughts, each treads his own path. So it is with your mother, and so it is with your starling. As it is with everyone. The world follows its own course.”
“Ever since I was little my mother had told me, if you don’t know something, go to the library and look it up.”
“Like a blind dolphin, the night of the new moon silently drew near.”
Maybe, on a rainy day, when I want to read something super short, and see some quaint pictures, I will seek The Strange Library‘s help that day again.