Author Haruki Murakami
Killling Commendatore is yet another literary epic masterpiece from Haruki Murakami. Murakami is one of the greats, a living legend. You absolutely must read The Wind Up Bird Chronicles and 1Q84 before you die. Honestly, Killing Commendatore could be added to the must read list now as well. The problem with Murakami is that he’s set his own bar so damn high that it becomes necessary to try to rank his 5 star books.
Killing Commendatore begins with a faceless man asking our nameless protagonist to draw his portrait. He is unable, he cannot figure out how to draw a portrait with no face. But maybe by the end of the story he will have learned how to complete this challenge.
The bulk of the book takes place during the protagonist’s separation from his wife. He ends up temporarily living in the home of an old Japanese artist who is now in a retirement home. Within the attic of this house the protagonist finds an unknown painting called Killing Commendatore, he becomes absolutely obsessed with it.
In traditional Murakami fashion the story delves into magical realism and bizarre journeys while never fully leaving a grounded emotional state. Reading Murakami is like reading a mystery novel but you don’t know what you’re supposed to be solving. There is never an “aha!” moment because the book will end when it runs out of pages, not when the story has reached a natural conclusion. It may stop abruptly, it may go on well past what could’ve been called the ending. But it will all be wrapped up by the time the book closes.
Themes of loneliness and voyeurism are strong in Killing Commendatore and the book itself is anything but predictable. Murakami adds just enough of the fantastical to keep you surprised throughout all 700 plus pages.
There is one thing I need to point out about Murakami’s work though that is less than perfect. He’s an admirer of women. Married women. And boobs. Man freaking loves boobs. Many of his books that I’ve read include a character having an ongoing affair with a married woman. And all of his books take time to overly describe breasts.
Now, I’m a cis female and I can tell you from experience that even when I was first growing my modest breasts I never once sat down with the sole intention of contemplating their nature. As far as I know that is not natural behavior for women. If your experience is different please let me know in the comments!
So my one complaint is that Murakami doesn’t seem to understand women very well. In a lesser book I would have a huge problem with this but I suppose there are always going to be exceptions. Killing Commendatore has so much else going for it that it’ll pass with a strong eye roll on the boob obsession.
Killing Commendatore is a must read for all literature fans. Go out and finally tackle some of Murakami’s longer works. They’re really not as intimidating as they look, I promise.
5/5 tiny swords 🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡
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Buy it here: Killing Commendatore: A novel