Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I just finished reading Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami. I mostly caught bits and pieces of it while I sat on the bus going back and forth through Hong Kong. When I finished it, I was also on the bus, swaying back and forth in my seat in the upper level. We were going up a large mountain, and we were about to reach my favorite part of the ride, a certain moment of view, where the city building lights are behind me.

It is a view that needs a soundtrack, but usually I don't have any - just the sounds of the tv in the front wall, tourists chatter, Cantonese, and occasionally the clicking of nail clippers (I've noticed that people really like to use commutes for that)

Sputnik Sweetheart is a lonely sort of love story - well, not love but rather obsession. There is the struggle of obsession, love and the loss of self. The plot is rather suspenseful, or at least has urgency. One of the main characters disappears, and so through half the book, the reader is trying to make terms with a character's absence.

I've gotten used to it when reading Murakami's stories, or maybe it's just that my brain is so tired that I'll accept anything - but his resolutions or explanations are always fantastic or extraordinary. And not to ruin the story - but it's the same for this novel. A disappearance that has no earthly reason, but is a combination of the "impossible". And even - this part was what made me wonder most - the idea of being abandoned by the self, a complete solitude - so then is one existing or non-existing?

There is a passage about the strangeness of the satellite name "Sputnik" - "Traveling companion", when in actuality "lonely little lumps of metal spinning around the earth in their own separate orbits. From far off they look like beautiful shooting stars, but in reality... each of us is locked up alone... When the orbits of these two satellites happened to cross paths, we could be together. Maybe even open our hearts to each other. But that was only for the briefest moment. In the next instant we'd be in absolute solitude. Until we burned up and became nothing."