0178 | The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami


Context: We listened to this in the car over weeks and weeks. Less than twenty minutes after we finished, the car’s engine died and had to be scrapped.

Murakami is world famous for his story-telling and prose, his metaphysical realities and the way he plays with concepts, roles, characters and places. I’ve now read three of his books and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s some of the most cleverly written rubbish I’ve ever had to recycle.

I did enjoy some bits. The opening chapter and the narrative of Mamiya’s experiences in WW2 simply because that’s a period of history I know something about from a Japanese perspective. Er… that’s it.

As there was in Kafka on the Shore, there’s more gore and sex. There’s more psychosis and mystical spirituality. There’s more parallel story-telling and worlds within worlds.

What there isn’t more of is any meaning or clarity.

I was advised by someone called Fiver in a comment on my Kafka review that I should be reading for themes and then it would make more sense. I listened humbly to Fiver despite them taking me for a bit of a literary plonker as I listened to this book and found that yep, there were indeed tons of themes.

There’s the reccuring well theme, themes based on wartime experience, going through walls, dreams, sexual fantasies, marriage/relationships, cats (again!), jealousy, politics…. Great. So, I’ve got a list of themes Fiver, now what?

If the point in writing is simply to be read, he’s a genius. If it is to engage the reader’s life (not just their mind or imagination) and leave them different for the reading, he’s a failure.

This is on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. Well, quite frankly, I’d die happy if I didn’t read any more of him.

When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along to and FM broadcast of the overture to Rossini’s “The Thieving Magpie,” which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta.

In a place far away from anyone or anywhere, I drifted off for a moment.

rubbish | poor | mediocre | okay | good | very good | excellent | superb

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  1. Ii’ve just reread Kafka on the Shore (Murakami’s right! It does get clearer upon a reread, and I believe the interpretations are open to each individual reader) and found it terribly significant. What was nothing but haze the first time through now has several nuggets of truth for me (finding forgiveness, letting evil go, the truama as a child which can follow one into old age). Anyway, I’m so anxiouis to get to the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and then come back to more carefully read your review.

    Please consider joining the Japanese Literature Challenge 3 which comes this July 30. I’m making a new ‘requirement’, that participants need only read one book of Japanese literature (or poetry, or nonfiction) in the six months it’s held. It would be lovely to have your opinion represented.

    .-= Bellezza´s last blog ..All These Books for $22.50?! =-.

  2. The life story of a man who lost his cat? It was never realy going far on that premis. To be fair though I think the translation from the original Japanese is not the best and I have been reliably informed that at least two of the original Japanese chapters are missing in the English version and One chapter has been ‘relocated’ and adds to the disjointedness of the aforementioned ‘themes’.

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