A Wild Sheep Chase

August 17, 20214 min read

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

A Wild Sheep Chase is a beautiful novel. Murakami’s writing as always is expertly crafted and full of imagery that your imagination is captured with elegant ease.

It follows a nameless character who is forced to go on a quest to find a mythical sheep - one of a kind that really should not exist. I found the scenes Murakami painted so excellently vivid - how else can you describe something like this:

“The house kept its own time, like the old-fashioned grandfather clock in the living room. People who happened by raised the weights, and as long as the weights were wound, the clock continued ticking away. But with people gone and the weights unattended, whole chunks of time were left to collect in deposits of faded life on the floor.”

The story can be thought of as an allegory, and it is this reading that unlocks the richness of novel. If we take the sheep as something like the “meaning of life”, then we can understand why so many are looking for it, and why those who have been touched by it seem to be lost forever vying for its return. We can also see how that in the pursuit of such a mythical notion that many people forget to realise the importance of what they have and end up losing that too.

Luckily for our protagonist, although he has lost nearly everything, he knows that the story is not over.

Some quotes I found beautiful:

“Body cells replace themselves every month. Even at this very moment. Most everything you think you know about me is nothing more than memories.”

”To hold down advertising is to have nearly the entire publishing and broadcasting industries under your thumb. There’s not a branch of publishing or broadcasting that doesn’t depend in some way on advertising. It’d be like an aquarium without water. Why, 95 percent of the information that reaches you has already been preselected and paid for.”

“Whether you take the doughnut hole as a blank space or as an entity unto itself is a purely metaphysical question and does not affect the taste of the doughnut one bit.”

“Time really is one big continuous cloth, no? We habitually cut out pieces of time to fit us, so we tend to fool ourselves into thinking that time is our size, but it really goes on and on.”

Boarding a long-distance train without any luggage gave me a feeling of exhilaration. It was as if while out taking a leisurely stroll, I was suddenly like a dive-bomber caught in a space-time warp. In which there is nothing: no dentist’s appointments, no pending issues in desk drawers, no inextricably complicated human involvements, no favors demanded. I’d left that behind, temporarily. All I had with me were my tennis shoes with their misshapen rubber soles. They held fast to my feet like vague memories of another space-time.

“No, that’s not it. What I mean is, I don’t really know if it’s the right thing to do, making new life. Kids grow up, generations take their place. What does it all come to? More hills bulldozed and more oceanfront filled in? Faster cars and more cats run over? Who needs it? - J”

“Have you ever asked something like this of him?” “No but we go back a long time imposing our unrealities on each other. Whether we’ve managed to take care of things realistically or not is another question.”

“Theres that kind of money in the world. Aggravates you to have it, makes you miserable to spend it, and you hate yourself when it’s gone.”

With the job out of the picture, I felt a surge of relief. Slowly but surely I was making things simpler. I’d lost my hometown, lost my teens, lost my wife, in another three months I’d lose my twenties. What’d be left for me when I got to sixty, I couldn’t imagine. There’s no thinking about these things. There’s no telling even what’s going to happen a month from now.

I was feeling lonely without her, but the fact that I could feel lonely at all was consolation. Loneliness wasn’t such a bad feeling. It was like the stillness of the pin oak after the little birds had flown off.

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Apurva Shukla

Created by Apurva Shukla.

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