This was my seventh Murakami novel. I find it ranks quite highly from those I've read. It's a loose sequel to his previous A Wild Sheep Chase, which I've also read and enjoyed, if feeling it a little sparse.
Murakami has said he really enjoyed writing this one, as he'd received unexpected fame from the publication of Norwegian Wood -- a bildungsroman work (Catcher In The Rye et al) . This was a "healing act" for him, and I believe I used this novel as a "healing act" for myself. Murakami is something that isn't overly difficult to read, to comprehend, to enjoy. I feel this is why Murakami is such a modern writer; we can all use his work to mellow the blows dealt in our society.
I'd discovered Murakami when I was trawling though wikipedia.org. I'd never heard of him before, but was looking for surreal Kafka-esque works, and stumbled across a page for the novel "Hard Boiled Wonderland & The Edge of the World".
I found this a fairly fresh novel, but I've come to realise there isn't much variation in Murakami's work, which isn't such a bad thing, and why I find myself turning to him in times of need. It's as if his books are all stories based in the same surrealist world, but do actually offer a direct channel between reality. Perhaps it's not so surreal after all? He is becomming very popular over here in the west, whilst already being Japan's most popular author, something I was unaware of when discovering him. He's very in touch with western pop culture, as is Japan, and at times I don't feel I'm reading something written for the audience of a different culture.
In dance dance dance, the major themes in Murakami's work shine. The surrealist barriers paint over the loss of abandonment, isolation in society, the absurd, and of course, the joyous connection we get from reading his work: the building and discovery of human relationships to others and to art, especially music. I've actually discovered a lot of literature and music from the namedropping, especially some of the jazz standards. This is why he has more unique style and approach than simply a modern-day Kafka.
This novel stands as a midway mark for the author's current bibliography, and after writing his renown "Norwegian Wood" it's a great return to his more surreal, metaphysical world. I found the balance between realistic and surreal content spot on, as well as the books size and chapter breakdown.
It's a fun, exciting, well paced read that you'll draw many strong comparisons to real life situations and fundamental meanings, if any. I find the confines of his work explore the sense of these meanings more than accomplished works of metaphysics.
Murakami can drift into non-accessible fantastical elements, drawn out adventures that supposedly resemble something in real life, especially his more lengthy works like The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and what I've read of the latest 1Q84. It's about seeing past those clouds with enough of the connection that makes his work a joy to read, and dance dance dance is a perfect example of this, making it one of the author's finest.