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Killing Commendatore (2017)

by Haruki Murakami

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,2354312,071 (3.83)61
"The much-anticipated new novel from the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of 1Q84 and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Killing Commendatore is an epic tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art--as well as a loving homage to The Great Gatsby--and a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers"--… (more)
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» See also 61 mentions

English (40)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (43)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
The release date of any new Murakami novel is noted by me, I buy and read his books the moment they arrive. Once again I loved immersing myself in the slightly bizarre world he created in KILLING COMMENDATORE. There is always so much going on in his books that I learned long ago to not worry if I'm getting it all, what matters is what does resonate with me. Here I came up with two major themes, one that, as one character puts it, "none of us are ever finished. Everyone is a work in progress." Our narrator is in a moment of great change and flux in his life, everything he knows is essentially disrupted and that leads him on a life changing series of events. As part of that he must let go of the ideas he may have had and learn to see what is there (and not there) in front of him. As he puts it, "Perhaps nothing can be certain in the world. But at least we can believe in something." Understanding that nothing remains the same, it is always changing, allows him to grow and adapt as frankly crazy things are going on around him. Secondly the book featured a lot of places where the absence of something was every bit as important as the presence. There is one place where our narrator is awoken by a "sudden silence" that "will cut through sounds, waking you." There are many other places where noticing what is not there is the key to understanding life. One of the people he interacts with has a name that essentially means "lack of color." Being calm enough to see what is not there makes life so much richer.

I probably shouldn't love Murakami books as much as I do. I generally don't enjoy "magic realism" the type of writing where magical things happen in realistic settings. But I do love them and I think it all comes down to how richly he creates his characters and how the magical elements occur in ways that make sense based on that character. He also generally avoids what my wife has described as the "elf in the kitchen problem" which is where in a realistic setting a character comes down to breakfast, there is out of nowhere an elf in their kitchen, and they note it but then go on about their morning as if nothing amazing has happened. Murakami lets his characters work their way into the magic. In KILLING COMMENDATORE it is very important to have the "capacity to believe."

So yes, I loved this book and I will be thinking about it and what it has to say for a while. It is a long book but it never felt long to me. How long do I have to wait for his next book? ( )
  MarkMad | Jul 14, 2021 |
Although it's well written, something about this novel just didn't quite work for me. It felt like Murakami had recycled too many elements of his earlier novels. While I'm always happy for more of that, there was just something that didn't propel it into the top tier of his works. ( )
  arosoff | Jul 11, 2021 |
me21, ngf ( )
  amobogio | May 31, 2021 |
Here’s another trippy book from a master of them. This story centers on a thirty-something, moderately successful portrait painter, who’s wife has left him, and he finds himself living in the mountain home of a famous Japanese painter. He’s lucky enough to be in this beautiful home because of a friend, but then things become strange and more involved. Odd noises in the attic draw him up there to discover not only an owl, but a completely unknown painting titled Killing Commendatore.

Soon, a fabulously wealthy and reclusive man involved in the tech world, makes himself know, as he lives across the valley. When the mysterious ringing of a bell continues, the two men track it down, only to discover that it’s coming from under a huge pile of rocks on the mountain. The tech man brings in some heavy equipment that uncovers a mysterious ten-foot deep well of smooth stones underneath the stack of rocks. There is an abandon bell on the floor of the well, but in true Murakami fashion, uncovering the well has also let loose a two-foot-tall living troll.

After learning of the troll, the neighbor tells his own convoluted story of him getting a woman pregnant and how he now has a thirteen-year-old daughter, but one who knows nothing of her dad. The girl also lives on the mountain, and he hires the painter to paint her portrait, and find a way to introduce father and daughter. There’s also another storyline about the famous painter being involved with an assassination attempt involving Nazis during the war. That story also ties in to everything happening on this mountain.

All these stories come together in a fashion, and then characters from the mysterious painting start coming to life. In the end it becomes a story about love, loneliness, and death … maybe all stories do if you let them play out long enough. Starting to explain a Murakami novel is always a silly and unsatisfactory process, they should always be experienced by simply reading them. I felt that this was one of his better and more clever books in some time. I love to sit down with a new Murakami and see all the places he will take me with his imagination. ( )
  jphamilton | May 20, 2021 |
the unnamed narrator has suffered a profound dislocation: his wife has left him. in response he has left his previous job, gone on a road trip, moved into the empty family house of an old friend, developed a girlfriend, acquired some possibly unfriendly spirits, and uncovered a pit. he's also enamoured of the advantages of not thinking. he's caught between presence and absence, between Idea and Metaphor. he seems functional, but he's sinking. this is a very metaphysical novel, in all its senses. it's existential, surrealist, and it hinges on a psychic detective story, which makes it vintage Murakami. not every bit of it works, but almost. ( )
  macha | Apr 16, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Haruki Murakamiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gabriel, PhilipTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goossen, TedTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Today when I awoke from a nap the faceless man was there before me.
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"Without realizing it, I had come to feel a certain kinship with the two-foot man with the tiny sword art his side, despite his odd way of speaking, his voyeurism when my girlfriend and I were making love, and the fact that I had no clear idea what he was." -narrator, pg. 409
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"The much-anticipated new novel from the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of 1Q84 and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Killing Commendatore is an epic tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art--as well as a loving homage to The Great Gatsby--and a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers"--

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