‘The Ice Man’ by Haruki Murakami


The Ice Man by Haruki Murakami, 1991

The magic trick:

Stretching a metaphor across the entire story

This is the story of a marriage. Seems simple, normal, even boring. But it’s the story of a marriage told with a twist of magical realism. The narrator’s husband is an ice man. What the entails exactly, we never fully learn. He is cold, icy, a man with no past. It’s an odd metaphor that stretches across the story, and it never really worked for me. The implications of the whole ice man thing either just never connected or were not that interesting. She is losing her identity in the marriage and motherhood? Meh.

But I like a story that uses a metaphor to this complete a conceptual degree. And that’s quite a trick on Murakami’s part.

The selection:

My husband’s an Ice Man.

The first time I met him was at a hotel at a ski resort. It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate place to meet an Ice Man. He was in the lobby of the hotel, noisy and crowded with hordes of young people, seating in a corner as far as possible from the fireplace, quietly absorbed in a book. It was nearly noon, but the clear, cold morning light seemed to shine on him alone. “That’s an Ice Man,” one of my friends whispered. At the time I had not idea what sort of person an Ice Man was, and my friend couldn’t help me out. All she knew was that he was the sort of person who went by the name of Ice Man.

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