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The Strange Library

Hello readers. As I'm writing this, I believe that a great eager bunch is getting all pumped up for the annual Anime Festival Asia (AFA). From the looks of this year's line-up, I have to confess that there isn't a lot which I could easily pour my heart into. Granted, I'm not much of a hardcore fan in the first place. But I had quite a few pleasant surprises last year, even though the claustrophobic vibes were everywhere. For readers who are attending AFA, do take extra precaution yeah? Apparently, the super-duper three-day VIP package has been wiped out cold. Hail the power of disposable printed paper! Ooh yeah! Okay, it is time for a totally-unrelated-to-AFA article. Hold your horses.

Does anybody read the work of Haruki Murakami? Until yesterday, I had never read any of the master's books. So what changed the situation? An early Christmas surprise from a friend that came in the form of The Strange Library. I have heard of the master for a very long time; I have seen (not read) many of his books lined up beautifully on the bookshelves and such. Somebody I know has read him. But until yesterday, not me. Anyway, this is the English version translated by Ted Goossen. It also features the artwork of Chip Kidd. The design of this paperback took me by surprise. The book actually opens from the centre! What a unique and creative idea.

The Strange Library is a novella which was originally published under Toshokan Kitan in 1982 and later revised for publication as an illustrated children's book in 2005. The English version was published in 2014. There are 96 pages, with big, bold prints and colourful illustrations that give this book a surreal, symbolic feel. Well, the story itself is full of mysteries which throw the reader straight into the hole. A young boy returns some books he had borrowed from the library, and wishes to borrow more books. A female librarian who the boy had never seen before directs him to Room 107, which is located straight down the corridor from the right turn at the bottom of the stairs.

The boy gradually realises that the library isn't what he is familiar with, following a tense encounter with an equally peculiar old man in Room 107. From Room 107, the old man leads the boy to the somewhat eerie Reading Room. Well, it sure isn't an ordinary place. The boy senses danger but ultimately stays calm for his life, and the sheep man's. Yeah, another peculiar character has joined in the little group. Eventually, the boy becomes a prisoner in this strange library, with the sheep man doubling as a doughnut fryer and the appearance of yet another peculiar character, this time a paper-thin little girl who brings him the most extravagant of meals that are definitely out of place in a cell.

Slowly but steadily, the boy plots his escape with the sheep man and the little girl. However, another wave of terror awaits on the other side. In a strange twist of events, the boy finally realises the cold, hard truths of his reality which is really an open interpretation. It took me quite a while to recognise the symbolisms which hold many different 'clues' to this strange library. I enjoyed the novella thoroughly, and I'm thankful for this adventure. I highly recommend it to readers who love to dream and imagine.

Eccentrically Yours.

Written by J.Fluffysheep ♪

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