Book Review: Dance Dance Dance

January 25, 2015



Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami is a novel shrouded in mystery. The story begins with the narrator, who is searching for his missing girlfriend. Thus ensues the series of bizarre events - from ghoulish encounters to befriending a psychic teenager to encountering a string of deaths. He finds himself bouncing back and forth different realities, and the only advice that was given to him (by a sheep man) was to 'dance, dance, dance'. 

This is a sequel to his other novel, A Wild Sheep Chase, but can still be read as a stand-alone novel. Like many of Murakami's novels, it was difficult to put down this book with the suspense and eagerness to clear the conundrum. 

And once again, the narrator is another ordinary common man, making his character very relatable. Even when he is thrown in the most ludicrous situations, the narrator does not seem the least bit fazed. Instead, he treats each event with normalcy, focusing on the problem and not on the peculiarity of it all. This magical realism is an ongoing theme in most of his novels. 

If I were a character in Murakami's novel, I wonder if I'd be able to deal with the curious and unusual world that he built. Maybe living in a world where logic is often stretched, sometimes even overturned, wouldn't be too bad. Because even when things seem hopeless, there is always the possibility that you'd be transported to another reality, or a supernatural force would save the day. 

Murakami blends the worlds of surrealism and reality effortlessly. Admittedly, it gets frustrating to be left bewildered throughout the novel, only to have disappointing explanations that relates to some sort of parallel universe. This is common in most of his novels.

Yet, knowingly so, I am still inexplicably and hopelessly drawn towards each and every bit of Murakami's strange literary world. Dance Dance Dance was yet another chance for me to escape to and explore his extraordinary and perplexing creation.

And here are some of my favorite quotes from the novel:

1. No, I'm not used to things; I just recognize them for what they are.

2. It seemed unreasonable, unfair, that a woman so young and beautiful should be so exhausted. Of course, it was neither unreasonable nor unfair. Exhaustion pays no mind to age or beauty.

3. It left me wondering how the ancient Egyptians filled their days, what little pleasures they enjoyed as they whiled their weary way to death. Learning to swim, wrapping mummies. And the sum accomplishment of that you call a civilization.

4. How I managed to support myself. Yet never managed to go anywhere. Never went anywhere, but aged all the same. How nothing touched me. And I touched nothing. How I'd lost track of what mattered. How I worked like a fool for things that didn't. How it didn't make a difference either way. How I was losing form. The tissues hardening, stiffening from within. Terrifying me.

5. Tendencies. You got tendencies. So even if you did everything over again, your whole life, you got tendencies to do just what you did, all over again.

6. You gotta dance. As long as the music plays. You gotta dance. Don't even think why. Start to think, your feet stop. Your feet stop, we get stuck. We get stuck, you're stuck. So don't pay any mind, no matter how dumb. You gotta keep the step. You gotta limber up. You gotta loosen what you bolted down. You gotta use all you got. We know you're tired, tired and scared. Happens to everyone, okay? Just don't let you feet stop.

7. The things kids can memorize. Always the most meaningless, idiotic lines.

8. Some people say that's escapism. But that's fine by me. I live my life, you live yours. If you're clear about what you want, then you can live any way you please

9. I'd never eaten with a movie star before. What was one supposed to wear anyway?

10. Maybe because as you get older, things fall apart, so something needs to help hold things together.

11. “You're not such a bad cook," Yuki said.
"No, not true. I just put my heart into it. That's the difference. It's a question of attitude. If you really work at something, you can do it, up to a point. If you really work at being happy, you can do it, up to a point."

12. You really know how to depress people, don't you? Is that what you call being adult?

13. The world was doing very well without me.

14. Could pigs distinguish between a Maserati and Subaru?

15. "And I'm not a burden on you?" "Maybe you are and maybe you aren't. Don't worry your pretty little head about it. I want to be with you because I like you.

16. Sometimes when I'm with you, I remember things I lost when I was your age. Like I remember the sound of the rain and the smell of the wind. And it's really a gift, getting these things back. 

17. As time goes on, you'll understand. What lasts, lasts; what doesn't, doesn't. Time solves most things. And what time can't solve, you have to solve yourself.

18. People die all the time. Life is a lot more fragile than we think. So you should treat others in a way that leaves no regrets. Fairly, and if possible, sincerely. It's too easy not to make the effort, then weep and wring your hands after the person dies. 

19. When I was little, I had this science book. There was a section on "What would happen to the world if there was no friction?" Answer: "Everything on earth would fly into space from the centrifugal force of revolution." That was my mood.

20. I guess it was a dream. Either that or some act akin to dreaming. What, you may ask, is an "act akin to dreaming"? I don't know either. But it seems it does exist. Like so many other things we have no name for, existing in that limbo beyond the fringes of consciousness.

21. I don't want to be alone anymore. Without you I'll be flung out to the far corners of the universe. Show your face, please, tie me down somewhere. Tie me to this world. I don't want to join the ghosts. I'm just an ordinary guy. I need you.

22. “You still want me, now that it's morning?" she asked.
"I still want you," I said. "I want you more than I wanted you yesterday."
"I've never had anyone want me so much before."
"No one's ever wanted you?"
"Not the way you do," she said. "It's like being in a nice, warm room. Nice and cozy."
"Well, stay put. There's no reason ever to leave."
"Are you going to stay put?"
"Yes, I'm going to stay put.”

23. If you listen carefully, you can hear these things. If you look carefully, you'll see what you're after.

24. And someone was crying for me. Crying for me because I couldn't cry.

25. I cried inside. I cried for all that I'd lost and all that I'd lose.

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