It is with a Wild Sheep Chase, his third novel published in 1982, that Murakami begins to delve more into the surrealistic, dream world of the opposite sex. A girl whose unusually beautiful and super-sensitive ears confer extraordinary pleasures: "She'd shown me her ears on occasion; mostly on sexual occasions. Sex with her ears exposed was an experience I'd never previously known. When it was raining, the smell of rain came through crystal-clear. When birds were singing, their song was a thing of sheer clarity."
Murakami's fiction that include characters' with workaday mundane lives are often abruptly interrupted and sent irrevocably off course into some dreamlike worlds by the most apparent insignificant events. For example, in the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle the narrator is searching for a missing cat and comes to a vacant lot and later to the bottom of a well, through which he travels into a maze of hotel corridors where he must outrun his brother-in-law's henchmen to survive.
During his lifetime, Murakami's own life significantly changed direction in a similar, though less surreal, way. Apparently, as he relates his story, in April 1978 he was at a baseball game in Jingu Stadium between the Yakult and Hiroshima teams when a double by the American player Dave Hilton convinced him he had to write a novel. Just five months later, Murakami sent the manuscript to a publisher from a post office across from the stadium. The novel, Hear the Wind Sing, which was published in 1979, sold over 200,000 copies.
Similar to Joyce, Murakami uses his novels and short stories as a means of having his characters looking for answers, in his case, "as a psychological frame to look at postmodern consciousness in Japan. He portrays this postmodern consciousness and its dissociative states of being as symptomatic of a loss of connection to the stable and enduring worlds of mythology and the containing structures of culture and family" (Kimbles 11).
For example, in his novel, Sputnik Sweeheart Murakami sees difficulties in terms of problems in human relationships, as well as a discrepancy in one's own attitude and personality. The narrator K. had an unattainable love for Sumire and a sexual relationship with another woman, although without love. He had a deep soulful relationship with Sumire, but no physical relationship with her. He had sexual contact with his lover, but no soulful relationship with her. "In this sense we can speak about a dissociation which is situated in one's own personality and requires a feeling of internal unity first; something is missing" (Kimbles 91).
His short story, "On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning," follows in this theme of looking for different types of love. Murakami writes about this wistful fairy tale that the characters "were just an ordinary lonely boy and an ordinary lonely girl, like all the others, but they believed with their whole hearts that somewhere in the world there lived the 100% perfect boy and the 100% perfect girl for them." Because they were young and still uninitiated, they still felt that miracles, happily ever afters, could still occur (Literature online).
Murakami uses the prose in the in his story to stress this fairy-tale quality that the boy and girl desire. For example, "Oh, well. It would have started 'Once upon a time' and ended 'A sad story, don't you think?' Once upon a time, there lived a boy and a girl. The boy was eighteen and the girl sixteen. He was not unusually handsome, and she was not especially beautiful. They were just an ordinary lonely boy and an ordinary lonely girl, like all the others."
Yet, when given the opportunity for this miracle, the two are reluctant and want to prove that indeed this is the fairy tale, not another type of story in disguise. They decide, due to their personal doubts, to tempt fate and, by fairy-tale stricture, to put their love to the test. If they truly are perfect for one other, fate will intervene once again and their paths will meet. The years go by, and it is not until they have reached their 30's that one morning they accidentally meet each other on the street.
However, now when they see each other for the second time it is too late. The naivete and fantasies of youth no longer exist. This time, they are adults and see each other with adult eyes and constraints -- the 100% is no longer a reality. With only "the faintest gleam of their lost memories" in their hearts, they pass each other by and disappear into the crowd.
Unfortunately, both the boy and the girl -- now the man and the woman -- no longer have their childhood dreams. Instead, they only see the realities of adulthood. The fantasies, the fairy tales are a thing of the past. Thus, like the boy narrator in "Araby," they have come of age and can never return to the innocence of youth.
Bloom, Harold. James Joyce Dubliners. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1988
Ellmann, Richard. Joyce in Love. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Library, 1959.
Joyce, James. "Araby" 4, May 2007. http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/araby.html
Kimbles, Samuel. The Cultural Complex: Contemporary Jungian Perspectives on Psyche and Society. New York: Brunner-Routledge, 2004.
Literature Online Biography. Murakami Haruki, 2006 Proquest.
Murakami, Haruki. Sputnik Sweetheart New York: Knopf, 1991
Wild Sheep Chase New York: Kodansha America, 1989
Hear the wind sing New York: Kodansha America, 1979
____ "On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning," 4, May