‘The Kangaroo Communiqué’ by Haruki Murakami


The Kangaroo Communiqué by Haruki Murakami, 1981

The magic trick:

Using an oddball, scattershot first-person narrator to make what is a surprisingly well-considered argument for forgiveness

Another day, another kangaroo story.

Murakami has given himself free rein here to write in the voice of a first-person narrator who is all over the shop, as they say. It’s meta. It’s scattershot. It’s the corporate bureaucracy invasion that Murakami likes so much to terrorize us with. It’s nutty. It’s funny. But is it worth your time?

Oh yes.

Very much.

There is, tucked within the folds of madness, some method. There is the kangaroo communiqué, after all. Well, actually, the key is what he calls the Nobility of Imperfection. We all forgive each other. Just like the kangaroos do. Or something to that effect.

This narrator’s mad ravings actually follow a thread of logic if you pull back and consider the theme of forgiveness. The notion of a mistaken music purchase at a big box store might not seem the most likely place to ponder the nature of forgiveness, the mechanics involved and the accompanying validations and justifications. But in fact why not?

Once you conclude that such a scenario is an acceptable setting for such a deep dive, then as a writer you’re freed up to write with any kind of off-the-wall narrator you want. And that’s quite a trick on Murakami’s part.

The selection:

To tell you the truth, all week I’ve tried over and over to write you a letter. I’m very sorry, but according to standard business practices, we can’t exchange your record. But something in your letter touched me, and personally, blab blab blab….That kind of letter. But I never could write it well. It’s not that I’m poor at writing, it’s just that when I decided to write, the words wouldn’t come. The words that did come were not to the point. It’s a strange thing.

So I decided not to reply. If I’m going to send you an incomplete letter, it’d be better not to send anything. Don’t you think so? I do. An imperfect message is like a mixed-up train schedule.

But this morning, in front of the kangaroo’s fence, I experienced the accumulation of 36 coincidences and had a revelation. What this was, in other words, was an enormous incompleteness.


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