Sputnik Sweetheart- Another Murakami

I think my discovery of Murakami must rank as the high point of my reading adventures, whenever it happened - not more than a couple of years ago, at a random airport bookstore, as it usually does. Till then, he was a complete stranger I had not even heard of. Now I don't tire of waxing eloquent about his books and the only film I think that has been attempted on one of his books- Norwegian Wood.

Everyone can write (some) fiction, I think, but the quality of writing is another matter altogether. Like, anyone can write humour, but to write it like PG Wodehouse did, would be very, very difficult. So let me wax eloquent about the latest I have read, and get it out of my system. Sputnik was the first satellite sent up by Russia, BEFORE the U.S. in the early 60s. But here, the title comes from a confusion in the mind of a key character between the word Beatnik and Sputnik, two entirely different things.

Anyway, a twenty-something guy is in love with Sumire (meaning Violet), a twenty-something girl who is like a soulmate, an aspiring writer, though she has not completed any novel or piece of writing yet. The trouble is, she does not love him. She also starts feeling an attraction for an older woman, but does not know if and how to express it.

This broad storyline does not seem very original if narrated in two dimensions like I have done here, but Murakami adds many more dimensions, with an effect that is hard to describe. You end up feeling/caring for each of the three main characters, as if you are living their lives. And each one of these has an identity crisis, and feels that they are living a double life- a here and a there, sometimes contradictory personalities. The ending is also unique for a story that starts out as a regular love triangle. I think the author is intelligent enough to leave the reader to interpret this at a level of his own choosing. I think that is his greatness.


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