I have the Vintage paperback edition of Murakami's Dance Dance Dance, discussed in my last post, and, as is all too normal, the book comes with many review-blurbs touting Murakami and Dance Dance Dance to the skies. I enjoy reading blurbs. Sometimes they're so over-heated that they can't help but make me smile. Then there are the ones that appear on every book by a given author, like Updike's famous blurb on Nabokov, who, of course, "writes prose the only way it should be written, that is, ecstatically." But most blurbs are fairly boring, and in more recent books, which have many, many blurb pages, only serve as additional voices in a chorus praising the book. Others make grandiose claims about the writer (who is invariably the next great whoever, or who combines the wit of x, with the crisp style of y, and the zing of z). The blurbs on the Murakami generally don't say much. He is compared to Philip K. Dick and Mishima. Sex and mystery and rock 'n' roll and sci-fi and "the future" are all invoked.
But there is one blurb I thought I'd share with you. It's right there on the front cover, and it grabbed my attention, in part because I have no idea what it means. From The Washington Post Book World: "A world-class writer who takes big risks. . . . If Murakami is the voice of a generation, then it is the generation of Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo." It's bad enough when a reviewer writes about someone as "the voice of a generation", but it's not clear to me how Murakami, being 12 and 13 years younger, respectively, than Pynchon or Delillo, could be the "voice of [their] generation". If I had to guess, I'd say that the reviewer was trying to invoke Pynchon and DeLillo as comparisons and ended up with this trainwreck of a sentence. Or, by invoking them, the review is saying that Murakami transcends their influence. Murakami is like them, he or she might be saying, only better. Or, the reviewer was trying to say that Murakami is the Pynchon or DeLillo of his own generation. Or that he's the Japanese Pynchon or DeLillo. Not that any of these are of any help, either, mind you, but at least they make a little bit of sense.