After reading three of Murakami’s books, I wondered, was it the right thing to pick up another? Today, I ended Sputnik Sweetheart and I still wasn’t sure. Murakami’s works are designed in a way that draws you away from the realistic world, and delve into the possibilities of the unrealistic. There was a thin line between what was supposed to be real, and what was supposed to be a fragment of imagination, a decipherable impactful metaphor.
‘Sputnik Sweetheart’ literally means ‘travelling companion sweetheart’, which pretty much represents Sumire’s perspective instead of the narrator’s, of Miu. The narrator didn’t carry that much plot of the story, but rather, the book was entirely Sumire and Sumire alone, even after her disappearance. Only a little handful of the narrator was told at the end, in a way that what Sumire had done, affects him in the decision he made in the end.
I found one theme (as the narrator had too), throughout the second half of the book: oblivion.
I don’t know if people can truly lost themselves into oblivion, like Sumire and the other half of Miu. I’m saying this in a-how can you put it-metaphorical way, like how much does the conscious you were in touch with the parts of you that makes you a whole, full person? How do you know that parts of you were lost to oblivion, or as Sumire put it, ‘the other side’? How do you know that losing those parts means you won’t be whole again? Both the characters of Sumire and Miu yearned to be normal, or at least something that they think would consider them ‘whole’. What if Sumire was really her own brand of ‘normal’ from the beginning of her life, only to be fed a false societal obligation where ‘love has to be fulfilled’, or ‘I have to write, it’s what I live for, and I cannot stray from it’.
Somehow, I felt that what the narrator told Sumire at one point could save Sumire and Miu both. One tiny realization that might seem so small compared to all the bigger, deeper conversations in this book. At one point the narrator told Sumire, that it is fine to lost the drive in writing, the thing that she believed she was destined to do, and it doesn’t make you a false you if you strayed from your aim of being a writer. I agreed with the narrator when I read this, and I believed that it wouldn’t make Sumire a false Sumire if she didn’t know her mother, and it wouldn’t make Miu a false Miu if she lost sexual desire when the ferris wheel incident happened.
What makes you, a whole you, and what makes me, a whole me?