Title: A Wild Sheep Chase
Author: Haruki Murakami
Year of Publication: 1982
Goodreads Rating (Avg.): 3.94
Goodreads Rating (Mine):
MOST SPOILERS EVER. SERIOUSLY, I’VE WRITTEN ALL THE ENDINGS; DON’T READ THIS REVIEW UNLESS YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT SPOILERS.
Nooo don’t make me review Murakami, please! I don’t want to. *sob*
Plot Description: So there’s this guy – he’s the narrator. And he’s on what he feels is a wild goose chase, except he’s chasing a sheep. A magical sheep, which may or may not be real… but whose goal is WORLD DOMINATION. No less.
And the narrator guy is on this sort of treasure hunt, picking up a trail of clues left behind for him by a friend called The Rat, after whom Murakami’s Rat Trilogy is named.
Quick! Save yourselves. Run while there’s still time!
So there are some truly inventive reviews of this book on Goodreads. Please be sure to check out the one by this person called ‘j’ (trust me, you’ll know the review i’m talking about when you see it, but just in case, it’s the first review you’ll see and it’s filled with trippy pictures.
Incidentally, that’s also how I could describe A Wild Sheep Chase. A collection of trippy scenes, transcribed by a guy who’s high and dreaming all at the same time. I mean, this is original dream literature; which is to say it makes NO sense.
Murakami’s protagonist – and, by extension, Murakami himself, fixates on the weirdest things, like his girlfriend’s ear. (Or that damn sheep). There’s a government conspiracy – other people are looking for the sheep too.
It’s a race against time. The protagonist MUST find his friend, The Rat, before it’s too late.
Mmm, yeah. The Rat’s already dead by the time the protagonist catches up with him. But the protagonist very smartly figures out that The Rat’s still with him because his spirit is possessing a local hobo.
The Rat tells him (through the hobo) that the Sheep is a power hungry creature that can possess the minds of certain humans it considers worthy of its attentions. The Sheep creates a tumour in their brain and uses it to blackmail them into doing its bidding – if they refuse, the Sheep lets the tumour loose and they die.
Innovative. Ten points to the Sheep.
Aaanyway, the Sheep then uses the hapless human to climb the ranks of government or society or whatever it is that matters around there, and so to further its agenda of WORLD DOMINATION. Once the human is of no use to the Sheep, it leaves his (or her, I suppose, but there’s no mention of the Sheep ever having possessed a woman. Go figure. Even the insane, megalomaniac, magical Sheep is kind of sexist) body and mind.
The minute the Sheep leaves the person, the tumour is let loose and they die, while the Sheep moves on to the next worthy candidate.
The protagonist’s friend The Rat went looking for the Sheep, and it found him instead. Rather than allow it to blackmail him and stuff, he waited until the Sheep went to sleep – in his mind – and then killed himself.
Which explains the necessity for hobo possession, but it doesn’t explain much else about this book.
OH, and at the end of the book there’s an explosion in which some of the bad guys are killed. For no apparent reason, since the Sheep’s already dead and everybody’s missions have kind of become irrelevant.
I’m not even going to pretend to be intelligent about this book. It is either SO highbrow that it requires like, fifty readings and interpretations before you can get to the bottom of it, or it’s just an excellent example of what happens when writers go crazy, and their editors do nothing about it.
[Historical examples of the same happening before do exist. See J.K. Rowling, The Casual Vacancy (2012)].
If you’re in the right mood for it, A Wild Sheep Chase is a marvellous read. You need to be prepared to be random and all over the place, and you’ll enjoy the book just fine.
I don’t hate it, but I don’t think I can give this book a higher rating after only one reading. This is because my first, most superficial interpretation of the book translates to an evaluation of 2.
I honestly do think this is a great book, but don’t attempt it unless you’re in the right mood, or you could be put off Murakami for good.
You know, on second thought… what’s cooler than a crazed, blackmailing, magically possessive Sheep – sheep!!!! – on a power trip and bent on world domination? Give this guy all the awards just for thinking that shit up.