A Wild Sheep Chase - Alfred Birnbaum, Haruki Murakami The mundane melds into the fantastical as you get further into the chase. Details dominate in summary form giving the impression of a detective novel. Murakami tells us, simply and without elaboration, when the narrator shaves, what he eats, when he has intercourse. There are 16 steps to his apartment and his wife had an affair with his friend, but he also notes "such things happened often enough" to not be out of the ordinary. It was with such straight-forward observation that Murakami slips the reader into an increasingly bizarre world centered on an elusive white sheep with a star-marking on its’ back.

Murakami's writing not only survives the rigors of translation (presumably since I don’t read Japanese), but straps you to its back and hikes you into desolate areas. Physically and emotionally. The namelessness of the main character, his girlfriend, the boss, the Sheep Professor and others heightens the sense of isolation. There is one name given in the book and that christening happens in the story.

“Nice kitty-kitty,” said the chauffeur, hand not outstretched.“What’s his name?”
“He doesn’t have a name.”
“So what do you call the fella?”
“I don’t call it,” I said. “It’s just there”
“But he’s not a lump sitting there. He moves about by his own will, no? Seems might strange that something that moves by its own will doesn’t have a name.”
“Herring swim around of there own will, but nobody gives them names.”
“Well, first of all, there’s no emotional bond between herring and people, and besides, they wouldn’t know their name if they heard it.”
Which is to say that animals that not only move by their own will and share feelings with people but also possess sight and hearing qualify as deserving of names then?”
“There, you got it.” The chauffeur nodded repeatedly, satisfied. “How about it? What say I go ahead and give the little guy a name?” Pgs. 178-179.

Easily, one could pull any passage from the last half of the book and endlessly discuss potential meaning. In 2005, Murakami gave a lecture regarding his writing.
In some ways, a narrative is like a dream. You don’t analyze a dream – you just pass through it. A dream is sometimes healing and sometimes it makes you anxious. A narrative is the same – you are just in it. A novelist is not an analyst. He just transforms one scene into another. A novelist is one who dreams wide awake. He decides to write and he sits down and dreams away, then wraps it into a package called fiction which allows other people to dream. Fiction warms the hearts and minds of the readers. So I believe that there is something deep and enduring in fiction, and I have learned to trust the power of the narrative.
The symbolism of the sheep, among many other symbols Murakami imbues his story with, resonate for reasons unknown. Murakami accomplishes his quest to warm the heart and mind of the reader, but some of us do analyze dreams. Perhaps futilely. Whether intended or not, Murakami’s story provides for those who wish to dream together.