Haruki Murakami, "Ice Man"

A woman falls in love with an ice man.

(from The New Yorker, Feb. 10, 2003)

This story, it occurs to me, is a lot like life, in that it is a tale told by an idiot. But seriously, what the hell? This one was so silly and overdone, I couldn’t help but think the author, generally an excellent writer from what I’ve seen, was just messing around. Stream-of-consciousness noodling on Murakami’s part. An experiment he never should have handed in. A wandering non-story with some pretty moments.
Everything about this ice man turned out to be a metaphor for more ice. The white patches in his hair? Like pockets of unmelted snow. His cheekbones? Like frozen stone. His fingers? frosted at the tips. Also, he sat as quiet as the winter scene outside the window and his stare was like a pointy icicle. So? Like? He’s? Some kinda an ice man?
Too bad he couldn’t crap out a snowcone. Make yourself useful, ice man.
Something about the tone reminded me of this classic story from one of my all-time favorite websites, superbad.com.

The link from which I printed “Ice Man” no longer seems to be working. But do some Googling and you’ll find the cached version.

Day Three of Recommendation Week. This one came endorsed by reader Stephen Schenkenberg, who told me “Ice Man” was extraordinary. That it was.

One thought on “Haruki Murakami, "Ice Man"

  1. Anonymous

    The story isn’t about the ice man; it’s about his wife. The way I see it, the story is an allegory for the impossibility of blending in with a different culture as one of their own. Even though she falls in love with the ice man, marries him, moves to his country, and has children with him, she’s doomed to forever remain an outsider. She’ll never be able to connect with anyone the way that she can with the people back home. I think that anyone who has really tried living a life in a society that is vastly different from the one in which he grew up will understand what this piece is about. Read it again with this in mind, and your opinion of the piece might just change.

    As for myself, I thought the story was incredibly depressing — because it’s so very true.


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