This is my third Haruki Murakami read and by far my least favorite. After Norwegian Wood and After Dark, I felt this author could do no wrong. Those two novels were vastly different from each other - one a simplistic-yet-moving coming-of-age story and the other a mindtrip into the streets and characters of nocturnal Japan - and I was hoping some of that mastery of story would show up in each one of these tales. I was sorely mistaken.
My rating is based solely on the fact that I only liked 7 out of 17 stories. The ones I like are as follows:
The Second Bakery Attack (5 stars)
Sleep (4 stars)
Barn Burning (4 stars)
The Little Green Monster (5 stars)
TV People (5 stars)
The Dancing Dwarf (4 stars)
The Elephant Vanishes (5 stars)
The seven stories listed above are great distractions, but not worth the price of admission (Basically, I paid an illogical $11.99 on Amazon for seven stories). Had the book consisted of only those seven stories at half the price, I would have been pleased with my purchase. Tacking on the other ten titles felt like padding so that the publisher could charge for a novel-length outing.
The other stories get between 1 and 2 stars each and are not worth noting whatsoever, as they were completely unremarkable. Suffice to say they were all either mind-numbingly boring or horribly repetitive. A man meets a woman and his viewpoint of the world changes. That's fine two or three times in one collection, but ten times is too much for my tastes.
In summation: Some authors are good novelists, some are good short story writers, and a few are both. Murakami joins Neil Gaiman on my list of authors who should stick to novel writing. I highly recommend the two novels I listed in this review, but I cannot recommend this collection.
Final Judgment: Like watching your crush take a shit.