It begins quietly: just ordinary scenes strung together—each faints mystery, never resolves, never becomes truly strange, never clear whether dream or truth. The book asks a lot of you. It’s overlong and unpolished. It meanders. It doesn’t all make sense (at least not to me). Then again, if you pull away any of this, you unravel it all. By the halfway mark, I was in a fever. I began to see the world a little differently; it became harder to put the book down. The scenes from the war never quite fit with the rest, but they’re pure suspense and some of the book’s finest writing, and I liked what they had to say about the war, and about Japan. I felt a little used at the end—Murakami takes his chances—but I didn’t mind all that much. I’ve never been used like this before.