From the opening pages of Killing Commendatore I had my suspicions that this book would become my favourite story by Murakami. In his masterful style, writing with introspection and believability, Murakami gives us a story about contrasts. Our protagonist, an unnamed portrait painter, focuses on creating a new life for himself following his unanticipated divorce. He is an honest and trustworthy character. Beginning his self-journey by travelling Japan, and reading his travels through Murakami’s wonderful descriptions, it is easy to become immersed within the stories he tells. The overall mood is rather calming, though his experiences have sad undertones. They are dealt with matter-of-factly. Eventually settling in the mountain home of famous artist, Tomohiko Amada, the painter finds his solitude ending when he is involuntarily involved in the lives of his neighbours. Murakami delivers an eccentric mix of characters that are easy to love and interesting to read. As the painters connection to art deepens, he begins to notice lines blurring between opposing forces. It is these themes of contrast that continue through the story and leave us questioning where the line stands between past and present; reality and illusion; life and death. Though this book stands at an impressive 680 pages, it is not at all tiring. Something about the events that occur feels very magical. I felt completely invested in the character’s lives, as though I was in the room with them, always looking forward to what would happen next.