Rounding up the Halloween month with one of the most visceral, terrifying novels ever written about the human race. This slim novel doesn’t waste any time and jumps straight into the story of Aoyama, a Tokyo-based documentary film-maker, who is leading an achingly solitary life after the death of his wife seven years ago. His teenage son, Shige, and his best friend, Yoshikawa, decide that they are going to help him find a partner again, and start staging auditions for the female lead in a fake film that Yoshikawa is supposedly going to produce to find a young, beautiful, and dutiful wife for Aoyama.
What Murakami does significantly here is that he takes the blueprint of a generic romantic comedy, and then puts a violent, sadistic twist to it – especially in the final act. Even seemingly decent men regularly trivialize and objectify women in the book, and when they finally find the perfect girl for Aoyama – the demure and subservient Asami –they fail to notice the signs of madness that are made apparent by the writer from the beginning.
The film version, also called Audition, directed by the Japanese gonzo legend Takashi Miike also captures these elements seamlessly, retaining the sensationalist nature of the novel itself. However, it’s definitely not meant for the weak-hearted.
Murakami’s strengths are most evident when he’s describing sex and violence in his trademark phantasmic, hallucinatory style. Any reader familiar with his other works would second this sentiment.
Audition is a disturbing parable, a storm warning for those paying attention. Singer/songwriter Bob Dylan in his new book writes in one place: “Don’t be too smart. Always let somebody else think that they are smarter than you.” These sentences define Asami’s character perfectly, before of course she lets herself go and unleashes a psychotic hell on the book’s other protagonist.
For fans of horror, this is an unmissable experience. But in case you finish reading the book at night, it’s best to keep the lights on when you’re going to sleep.