As you’ve probably noticed by my reviews I’m not much for reading the latest releases. I tend to jump around, get into a particular author or hear about a particular book, then read it, whether it was released in 1898 or in 2021. This month’s review is no exception to that rule. Men Without Women (also the name of a collection of stories by Ernest Hemingway from 1927) was published in 2017 (was it a 90th anniversary homage?).
This book, a collection of short stories, has one story in particular that drew my fancy: “Drive My Car.” Kafuku is a stage actor who needs a driver because he has vision troubles. His mechanic recommends, gasp, a woman, who the mechanic claims is an excellent driver despite his and Kafuku’s reservations about the driving abilities of women.
The story toys with our notions of gender and friendship as well as the story within the story (i.e. the play within the play) trope made famous by Shakespeare in Hamlet.
I’ve read quite a few of Murakami’s novels and stories. One thing is certain, he has an abiding love of Chekov and The Beatles, as well as the stoic female character. This story includes all those things and more in a quick, powerful read with his usual mastery of language. Full credit to his translator, Ted Goossen, who I’ve always felt was exceptional in his role as writer / translator.