Killing Commendatore: A novel (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews


"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning-- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

The loneliness of men is, for better or worse, the centerpiece of many great works of fiction. Murakmi has a reputation for writing the majority of his novels from the perspective of dissatisfied men, full of wanderlust and disillusionment. Killing Commendatore is no different in that regard.

Told in the first person, our unnamed narrator, a mildly successful painter, sets out on a weeks long journey with no clear destination. Winding highways along the shoreline, roadside diners, and cheap motels all blur together into haze, providing the reader with a sense of the vertigo our narrator must be experiencing in the dizzying aftershock of his marriage ending.

He comes to live in the house of celebrated Japanese artist Tomohiko Amada, who has been moved to an assisted living center in his old age. A college friend has taken a sort of pity on our narrator, and has offered him use of the house (and Amada's art studio) for as long as he needs.

"You should be careful. Don’t get possessed by my dad’s spirit. He’s a guy with a strong spirit."

In the attic of Amada's cottage, our narrator finds a heretofore unknown painting, titled "Killing Commendatore" , based on Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni. The masterful painting depicts the titular murder, but it also seems to hold some metaphorical significance as well.

It is not long into our narrator's stay in this mountain retreat that he meets a Mr. Menshiki, a mysterious man who just happens to live across the mountain from Amada's cottage. Menshiki is an extremely successful, forthcoming, generous man who takes an instant liking to the narrator.

Menshiki acts as something of a catalyst for the entire plot of the book, if you could really say that there is a through-line amongst these nearly 1000 pages. Characters meander in conversation, in action, and in nonaction. Several pages are dedicated to situations in which people drink tea, or whiskey, and listen to the voluminous vinyl record collection left behind by Tomohiko Amada. Again, this is vintage Murakami stuff.

Why Menshiki lives where he does, and why he is so willing to befriend the narrator are the crux of the story here, although the majority of that story is wrapped up in the first 500 pages of Killing Commendatore.

The second half of the novel takes a turn into the magical realism for which Murakmi's earlier works are so beloved. Ideas become physical manifestations, Metaphors become jester-like guides, and Double Metaphors can swallow you whole.

To be fair, I'm not sure I would have made the connection between Fitzgerald's seminal work and Murakami's newest novel if it were not for the fact that it were spelled out for me in the promotional materials. I guess I'm not one for metaphors and the barren lands within they reside.

This is a major work, although it will not be for everyone. Fans of Murakami will almost certainly find something to love here. There are a few clumsy turns of phrase, and the female characters are very underwritten. The spirited journey of our narrator though, are enough to propel readers through this winding tome. Frequently I found myself turning the page for "just one more chapter", as I needed to know where all of this was going.

And to be honest, it doesn't go much of anywhere. And that's beautiful. True resolution is the green light on Daisy's pier, always just out of reach.

— Chris Linendoll

This book will more than satisfy any steadfast Murakami fan. I'm just not sure it will bring in many new readers with its intimidating length and oh-so-slowly-burning plot. — Josh Cohen-Peyton

Description


The epic new novel from the internationally acclaimed and best-selling author of 1Q84

In Killing Commendatore, a thirty-something portrait painter in Tokyo is abandoned by his wife and finds himself holed up in the mountain home of a famous artist, Tomohiko Amada. When he discovers a previously unseen painting in the attic, he unintentionally opens a circle of mysterious circumstances. To close it, he must complete a journey that involves a mysterious ringing bell, a two-foot-high physical manifestation of an Idea, a dapper businessman who lives across the valley, a precocious thirteen-year-old girl, a Nazi assassination attempt during World War II in Vienna, a pit in the woods behind the artist’s home, and an underworld haunted by Double Metaphors. A tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art—as well as a loving homage to The Great GatsbyKilling Commendatore is a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers.

About the Author


HARUKI MURAKAMI was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages, and the most recent of his many international honors is the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award, whose previous recipients include J. K. Rowling, Isabel Allende, and Salman Rushdie. 

harukimurakami.com

Praise For…


“[Murakami] is as masterful as ever at building an intricate narrative and keeping his audience in suspense. Killing Commendatore is both a testament to the transformational power of art and a cautionary tale on the dangers of exploration.” —Houston Chronicle
 
“A spellbinding parable of art, history, and human loneliness.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
 
“Expansive and intricate . . . touches on many of the themes familiar in Mr. Murakami’s novels: the mystery of romantic love, the weight of history, the transcendence of art, the search for elusive things just outside our grasp.” —The New York Times
 
“Eccentric and intriguing, Killing Commendatore is the product of a singular imagination. . . . Murakami is a wiz at melding the mundane with the surreal. . . . He has a way of imbuing the supernatural with uncommon urgency. His placid narrative voice belies the utter strangeness of his plot. . . . The worldview of Murakami’s novels is consistent, and it’s invigorating. In this book and many that came before it, he urges us to embrace the unusual, accept the unpredictable.” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Beguiling. . . . Murakami is brilliant at folding the humdrum alongside the supernatural; finding the magic that’s nested in life’s quotidian details. . . . His prose is warm, conversational and studded with quiet profundities. He’s eminently good company; that most precious of qualities that we look for in an author. We trust him to get us entertainingly lost, just as we trust that he’ll eventually get us home.” —The Guardian
 
“Exhilarating. . . . Only in the calm madness of his magical realism can Murakami truly capture one of his obsessions, the usually ineffable yearning that drives a person to make art.” —The Washington Post
 
“Another intriguing, time-challenging tome you can’t wait to finish . . . while simultaneously wishing you might never reach its conclusion, dreading the end of another indescribable Murakami odyssey.” —The Christian Science Monitor
 
“Some novelists hold a mirror up to the world and some, like Haruki Murakami, use the mirror as a portal to a universe hidden beyond it. . . . What can't be denied is Mr. Murakami's irresistible storytelling ability. He builds his self-contained world deliberately and faithfully, developing intrigue and suspense and even taking care to give each chapter a cliffhanger ending as in an old-fashioned serialized novel.” —The Wall Street Journal
 
“No other author mixes domestic, fantastic and esoteric elements into such weirdly bewitching shades. . . . Just as he straddles barriers dividing high art from mass entertainment, so he suspends borders between east and west.” —Financial Times
 
“Wild, thrilling. . . . Murakami is a master storyteller and he knows how to keep us hooked.” —The Sunday Times (London)

“[Killing Commendatore] marks the return of a master.” —Esquire
 
“More of Murakami’s magical mist, but its size, beauty, and concerns with lust and war bring us back to the vividness and scale of his 1997 epic, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.’’ —The Boston Globe
 
“No ordinary trip; get ready for a wild ride.” —Entertainment Weekly
 
“A perfect balance of tradition and individual talent. . . . Murakami dancing along ‘the inky blackness of the Path of Metaphor’ is like Fred Astaire dancing across a floor, then up the walls and onto the ceiling.” —The Spectator


Product Details
ISBN: 9780525520047
ISBN-10: 052552004X
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: October 9th, 2018
Pages: 704
Language: English
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