the strange library

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

A new book only to fans in the United States (it was published in Japan in 2008), The Strange Library is a creative collaboration between Murakami and designer Chip Kidd. It is a (very!) short story about a boy whose eagerness to appease the adults in his life leads him into the bowels of his public library where things are very much not as expected.

The briefness of the volume and the illustrations might deceive you into believing this could be a children's book but it is not (unless you're okay with your kid reading a somewhat explicit horror tale about a boy who will never return to his public library... and I'm not being facetious here; it could conceivably be okay for some sorts of kids). It feels like an origin story, of sorts, featuring characters (the sheep man!) and elements found in other Murakami stories likely conceived around or after this story.

I always love to pull out Grant Snider's Murakami Bingo card when reading a Murakami:

Despite how short The Strange Library is, one can cover at least nine squares on the card above. He really packs it all in. 

You might think that the setting is loving tribute to books and libraries and I suppose if you prefer to imagine your library as a horrific setting with a labyrinth seething beneath, ruled by a man-creature who intends to slurp your brains (literally), you'll be correct (and pleased).