This was my first encounter with “the other Murakami”, and I’m still not sure what to make of it. It is both a strangely conceived and eerily gripping story, centred around the relationship between gaijin tourist Frank and his guide to Tokyo’s nightlife, Kenji. The tension builds wonderfully throughout the first half of the novel, with vivid details of both Franks unnerving behaviour and the night world of Tokyo’s Kabuki-cho. Yet halfway throught Event X happens, after which the novel spins in new and bizarre directions. The meeting of the two characters is itself a plot device, and the Miso Soup metaphor is spared right until the end, at which point you are left exhausted but slightly unsatisfied. I loved the first half, sped through the second, and enjoyed the vivid charactersiation of those who end up walking the streets of Kabuki-cho at 3am with no place- or reason- to go home. Yet I didn’t expect the violence to be quite so graphic, and felt little lingering message from the short novella once the final page had been turned.