Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami - Book Review - Kristopher Cook

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami Book Cover
Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone.
Genre: Contemporary
Available from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Audible

Men Without Women was one of those books that I read at just the right time in my life. I started reading this book the day before I broke up with my girlfriend. This was something that deeply affected me at the time.

Suffice to say, this book was one of the driving forces that helped to pick me up. It also allowed me to see intimate relationships from a whole new perspective.

Consisting of seven short stories, Murakami uses the theme of heterosexual relationships that span all levels of commitment. Each one offers different viewpoints on what it means to lust, love, and desire another human being.

As is the case with most of Murakami’s work, this collection features his unique, almost dark humour, tinged with his philosophical forebodings of what it means to be in a relationship. From the title, you can guess that most of which are about a lack of meaningful relationships.

Life is strange, isn’t it? You can be totally entranced by the glow of something one minute, be willing to sacrifice everything to make it yours, but then a little time passes, or your perspective changes a bit, and all of a sudden you’re shocked at how faded it appears.

Haruki Murakami, Men Without Women

As I mentioned my break up at the beginning, there was one quote that stuck with me throughout. It’s the thought that you fall head-over-heels for someone or something, but as time goes on, you begin to see the bigger picture. Their true personality and flaws start to show through.

The more decisions the two of you make, the more you see them for who they are. For better or for worse.

My favourite of the stories was the one consisting of a man and a woman having an affair.

He was open and honest and self-reflective. And he wasn’t all that afraid of revealing his weaknesses to others—an unusual quality.
Haruki Murakami, Men Without Women

She comes to his apartment, usually with groceries to stock the cupboards, and then climbs into his bed. After sex and a chat (because who doesn’t love these mutual activities?) she gets up and leaves at 4am, every time.

The story goes more in-depth about his conflicting feelings for the woman, and the life she leads in her seemingly healthy family life.

Not only does it draw questions up of not knowing what people do in their free time, but also the fact we often struggle rationalising our own emotions. Much less putting them into cohesive sentences to express our true feelings for each other.

Closing Thoughts

I couldn’t recommend this book highly enough.

For anyone who’s feeling down from a relationship, these are definitely the stories to get you back on your feet. Short, punchy and often humorous, there’s little not to like about Murakami’s Men Without Women.

If you’ve wanted to get into Murakami’s work, then this is the ideal place to begin.

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