Killing Commendatore

23 CDs. Books on Tape. Oct. 2018. 28:30 hrs. ISBN 9780525525011. $60. digital download. F
OrangeReviewStarMurakami's (1Q84) novel is a journey into reality and mystery, metaphors and art, loss in the past and present, and, especially, obsession, all conveyed through an unnamed Japanese painter who begins to paint very different portraits than his usual commissioned subjects. After separating from his wife, he settles in to fight loneliness with art. Finding and unwrapping the hidden eponymous work by Tomohiko Amada, a famous artist who has declined into dementia, this younger painter is pulled into many unexplainable events that involve a mysterious neighbor and an insightful 13-year-old girl. In doing so, he rediscovers his passion for his own art—which the author captures in exacting detail—and is challenged when the persons in "Killing Commendatore" begin coming to life—particularly the two-and-a-half-foot-tall Commendatore, who is invisible to others, claiming to be an "idea." Such abstractions are a new paradigm for a man who has painted realistically before but is now discovering new layers of interpretation. Another of Murakami's forays into magical realism, this work requires a certain level of suspension of disbelief on the part of the listener but is rewarding for those who follow through. Reader Kirby Heyborne demonstrates the narration skills that have made him an Odyssey Award-winning performer.
VERDICT Highly recommended for devoted readers of international contemporary fiction. ["Those familiar with the author's inventive writing will certainly devour this, as will readers seeking challenging and thoughtful fiction": LJ 10/15/18 starred review of the Knopf hc.]
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