Once upon a time, many years ago, I was at an anime convention. It was the last night. I'd sat in on all the panels I could stand, spent ridiculous amounts of money in the dealers' hall, and was camped out in one of the "theater" rooms with assorted flavors of Pocky, ludicrously priced bottled water, and a big, fluffy Mokona plushie. I'd been burning the candle at both ends for three days, and I was well and truly fried.
I started to nod off about halfway through Millennium Actress. I dozed fitfully all the way through The Cat Returns and woke up just in time for the start of the second half of the Angel Links marathon. I was left with vague, dream-like images of cats in business suits and regular people in kimonos, and a sneaking suspicion that my friend and fellow convention-goer had taken advantage of my semi-consciousness to eat half a box of my blueberry Pocky without me noticing (but that was never proved conclusively).
Reading this book was a lot like that. It invoked the same surreal feelings and images, even the sense that something had been taken from me. I was remembering that night at the con and picturing cats in suits even before I got to the part where the cat town is first mentioned (and boy was that a trippy moment for me!). The translation is pretty darn good, combining clear, comprehensible English with the same pervading sense of Japanese-ness I get from watching a subtitled anime, which for me is a very familiar and comfortable feeling. This was a solid four-star read for me, and I will definitely pick up another Murakami title in the future.