Well at the end the moral seems to be that life is what you make it and amidst the unbearable sadness and death the hero Toru decides to live. He could have chosen differently but in that moment when he is on the beach far away from home it is the sense of enough being enough that drags him back to Tokyo.
This was enjoyable but quite why it stirred all the fuss it did is not something I can picture immediately. Perhaps there was a shock caused by the sexual scenes in the book and the relatively casual attitude that the characters have towards sex. Maybe the theme of suicide was very cutting edge for the time and stirred interest? Not sure about either of those but it does seem dated.
What perhaps makes it more so is the decision to date it in 1968/69. But reading this in 2008 when most of the subjects tackled by this book appear in the weekly run of Eastenders it is no longer that shocking.
What does succeed is the writing around the main character. This is a coming of age book where the main character has to cope with death, isolation, loneliness and the oddities of other people. But it is the lack of a supporting cast that heightens the sense of loneliness. A memorable read for that aspect alone. Where are you he is asked at the end of the book and you had to wonder how that question gets answered.
A review will follow soon…