The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami

If you’re reading a book by Murakami and someone asks you what it’s about, say “It’s hard to explain.”

Toru’s wife disappears and he searches for her by sitting in pitch darkness in a dried-up well, where he also accesses a dream world. He is contacted by a mixed-bag of oddballs: a retired military man, a woman who knows things, a psychological tailor and her mute son, a teenage neighbour who works for a wigmaker, not to mention his wife’s evil bother. These characters seem scarred or they have icky monsters deep inside their psyches.

It was too dark for me.

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The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John BuchanThis book was nothing more than a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book without the choices. Buchan details too precisely each step his hero takes to elude his would-be capturers.

The plot? Cliché-city! Richard Hannay: an out-of-work soldier. A mysterious American appears, begging for help, fearing for his life. The man is killed and Richard–unable to turn to the police as he is the prime suspect–flees with the American’s coded diary, assuming various disguises to outwit the murderers, a faceless group called Black Stone.

Hannay is an early version of all our spy heros, but one-dimensional, a bit too capable and a mite too lucky. Forgettable.

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Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

A recipe book for disaster, this fable tells of Tita, born and raised in the hot comfort of a kitchen. But Tita’s mother denies her the liberty of marrying Pedro. Only through her cooking can Tita express her passion: a love as dangerous as a hot stove. One meal causes her sister’s clothing to spontaneously combust!

I didn’t connect with any of the characters because they were so exaggerated. I didn’t want to care about them because the author seemed to take their fates so lightly. Magic realism? Not sure I like it. Not sure about the recipes in this book either.

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Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis

Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis

Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis

“Hey Baby, what’s the story?” says Victor Ward, It Boy of the moment. “Never mind, spare me.”

It’s so cold that frost is creeping along the walls as Victor brushes confetti off the sleeve of his Comme des garçons tux.  Later in the script, Victor will be recruited by models-slash-terrorists and eased into senseless violence. For now, he’s oblivious.

“It’s what you don’t know that matters the most.”

As Victor flirts inattentively, from somewhere, an ominously relevant song from the 90s begins to play.

I am faux-freaked out by this book.

It’s the same plot as Zoolander but it’s hardly funny.

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The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

A photo of The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas PynchonOedipa Maas wanders into a quasi-invisible conspiracy to desert the U.S. Postal Service. Is it apophenia?

This book is the awakening from a dream. A dream in which you saw meaning in every detail and every event was related and was PROOF. But now you are awake and all the strands of your dream are slipping away and you are left with half-memories of urgent searchings and your dream companions (those specific strangers whom you knew surprisingly well). You feel a desperate triumphant urge to make sense of things. You can’t.

I felt like Oedipa at the deaf-mute dance. Bogged down.

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