REVIEWED BY FRANCINE PROSE
Murakami reports that he finds writing novels a challenge, while writing stories is a joy. Here that joy is passed along to the reader, the lucky beneficiary of his affection for what he calls the "strange tale." In one, a waitress celebrates her birthday by bringing dinner to a rich man who may, or may not, grant her a wish. In another, a man mourns his shopaholic wife by having an assistant wear her clothes. It's satisfying to be in the hands of an author who so deftly and dazzlingly persuades us to believe the apparently implausible.