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Murakami meanders back into alternative realities

At its heart this picaresque novel -- the 63-year-old Japanese novelist's new 1,300 page, three volume opus -- has quite a simple narrative arc: boy and girl meet; they fall in love; they lose each other; they find each other again.

However, this story line comes freighted with several extravagantly serpentine and surreally bizarre add-ons.

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