Thoughts on Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

I intended to read Killing Commendatore slowly; I initially aimed to finish it before the year ends- no pressure at all. But last weekend, I got hooked and couldn't stop leafing through each page, each chapter, until I found myself with only 100 pages left to go. Who was I kidding? I was bound to finish it before the month ends. In fact, I finished it just tonight, which is why I'm writing my thoughts to you dear reader, as I hope to convey them right away. 

It has been a while since I last immersed myself for hours in a novel. I used to spend my weekends reading books I borrowed from the library back when I was still studying. It's easy for me to remember my sixteen year old self, sitting on a sofa in the living room with a classic book in hand, physically present yet consciously far far away. 

Whenever I think back about those times, I would be amazed at myself for finishing a novel in one day. Now as a young professional, it would usually take me weeks, since I don't have the luxury of time.. I could only finish a few chapters at a time. But then this year rolled in, and I realized that I can actually bring back those good old days of immersing myself in the literary world. 

Which was what happened to me when I read Murakami's Killing Commendatore.  It took me one rainy weekend to realize that it was once again possible to be so enamored in what I was reading, as I was once again whisked away into the world of Murakami, one that I have been acquainted with for years. 

Every time I read Murakami's novels, I always feel like I'm in a dream, or that I am walking in between the thin boundary of what is real and unreal. Nothing is ever certain in his stories, and that could either be frustrating or you can choose to settle with the uncertainty. Readers will have to accept that answers will not be provided and there will be things left hanging in the air-- so what was all that for? 

Which is my exact expression tonight, but I'm not surprised. I can say that his previous works were more challenging to understand, to the point that it gave me a headache. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World and A Wild Sheep Chase were two of his novels that hurt my head! 

Killing Commendatore, thankfully, did not give me a hard time. To put simply, it's about a portrait artist who goes through a divorce, then is offered the opportunity to take care of his friend's father's house in the mountains where he comes across a hidden painting. Strange things happen from there, such as the discovery of an underground hole, and the sound of a bell ringing in the wee hours of the night. 

It definitely started out to be something very ordinary, what with our unnamed protagonist trying to find his inspiration and drive to paint what he truly likes and enjoys, apart from portraits. He recalls his past experiences, tries to make sense of them, and expresses it through each stroke and color placed on the canvas. I loved having an insight into the artist's thoughts, emotions, and hesitations about his work. 

Then eventually eccentric characters pop up here and there-- this for me is when the thrill began. Ominous events happen, one by one, dreary scenes creep in and the readers find themselves into a slow descent towards a different world, together with our unnamed protagonist. At this point, I wasn't sure whether I wanted to come out from it. 

Our protagonist endures a period of experiencing all these strange unexplainable events, then finds it in himself to overcome them all. And once he does, that's when things go back to normal, as if nothing ever happened. Some questions answered, most are not. 

My overall feel for this book was that it had potential to be something more. There were some aspects where I wish more thought was put into it, like I was expecting something special from one pivotal character's disappearance, yet it didn't happen that way. 

For some reason unknown to me (and to all of us), I felt like the ending was rushed; totally opposite from its very slow start. It was as if Murakami was in a hurry to place things back to normal. I couldn't truly reconcile if the ending should have been the way it was, or if I was missing the point somewhere in between the 700 pages.

The magic was there certainly, but it wasn't in the places where I thought it would produce an impact. There were also some stories that were quite loosely connected and they could have been developed further. Sometimes as readers, we tend to invest our thoughts and energy on the characters, but it might not apply for Murakami's novels. 

But it is what it is. It was long and rambling, and it was quite lacking compared to its predecessors, but I still enjoyed reading it. I don't know if it's because it's been a while since I last breezed through a novel or I just miss reading his prose. I would have to admit his conversational style has inspired and influenced how I write. I admit I miss the vague frustrating plots, talking cats, mysterious disappearances, AND let's not forget, his many music recommendations ranging from various genres-- jazz, classical, rock, you name it. 

Although not one of my favorites, Killing Commendatore has reminded me about the things I enjoy in a typical Murakami book, and has brought me back to my good old days of truly relishing every page in a novel. 

I would recommend his other novels, such as Kafka On The Shore, and if you want a good heartache, I personally enjoyed South Of The Border, West Of The Sun. Then there's also Norwegian Wood, which I lost count in how many times I've read.. haha :")


Happy Wednesday, dear reader! I am enjoying these sudden spurts expressing my thoughts, so I am definitely allowing myself to write my heart out. : - ) 

Have you read any of Murakami's novels? I would love to hear your thoughts!


  1. I love this post! I've been dying to pick up some Murakami, and I've heard this is a great one to start. It's so special when a book sweeps you off your feet. <3

    1. Thank you, Hannah! I very much recommend Murakami :) his novels are a unique experience. I hope you enjoy reading whichever book of his you get to start with, and I'm very much open to having a conversation for any of your thoughts :")

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  3. Omg, when you said "Every time I read Murakami's novels, I always feel like I'm in a dream, or that I am walking in between the thin boundary of what is real and unreal." I was like ah yes me, too! You've completely put what I feel when I read Murakami into words, hahaha. With Killing Commendatore, I did enjoy the first half of it and it gave me a sense of solitude in the beginning. What put me off was the redundancy of the two-foot tall "Idea" because Murakami took his sweet time introducing this being... haha. I'd love to reread it again soon, though! I'm currently taking an art theory class and we've tackled the concept of the "Idea" in paintings and art and aesthetics in general, maybe that will give me more insight to what Murakami wants to say. x

    PS. Norwegian Wood is my favorite Murakami too!

    1. I'm glad to know I'm able to describe the feeling accurately, and that you feel the same way!! I agree, the first half was enjoyable-- the usual slow introduction to a familiar Murakami world. I first got a bit creeped out at first with the Idea (or maybe because I was reading it while I was home alone), but I eventually warmed up to him. There really are bound to be odd characters like him in any of Murakami's works. It's great that you're studying about the Idea concept in your art class-- I don't think I've come across it during my years of study. Do let me know if you have additional insights, I do think it would definitely help with understanding the story more.

      Aww cliche as it is, but I think Norwegian Wood is really a great introduction to his works. Murakami tells the story so well, and knows how to tug at our heartstrings.

      Thank you for your time with me on here, Chia! Have a lovely weekend <3

    2. I will let you know when I pick it up again for a reread! ❤️ have a lovely long weekend too Anna 💞