This book generated quite a stir in the literary community--I think largely bcs no one understood what was going on in it! Is this like Firebird (Igor Stravinsky's avant-garde, misunderstood, seemingly chaotic piece that caused a riot when it was performed for the first time?) or Finnegan's Wake (James Joyce's seemingly nonsensical tome which is so complicated that *shelves* of lit crit have been produced trying to explain it)? Or is it just a wreck? I don't know. I couldn't make head or tail of it myself. But if you don't expect tidiness (neat endings to plotlines, for example, or explanations of any kind), there is a lot of very interesting stuff in this book.
Me, I think Murakami wrote it while he was feverish, and then never went back and revised.
Muakami has become virtually a genre unto himself - hallucinatory prose where even mundane events (a lost cat, a telephone conversation) seem to carry within them the seed of a disturbing nightmare even when delivered with humor. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is one of his best. A masterpiece.
Chronicle is written in a very Japanese way. The plot gets fragmented easily and becomes obscure, both lending to an ethereal quality. Many threads begin, intertwine, and unravel during the book so if one is not paying attention and connecting seemingly disparate parts, the story can readily confuse a reader.
There are parts of the book that are graphic, especially parts detailing torture during the war. I would say that the style is similar to other Japanese media such as Anime or even video games, so if you enjoy those, you'll probably enjoy The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
A quirky book with mystery, metaphysics, history and sex. About a struggling marriage in modern Japan with fascinating stories about the Manchurian war between Russia and Japan with its horrific aftermath. Finding the connection between these story lines made for an interesting book group discussion.
If you've ever wondered what would happen if David Lynch and Takashi Miike collaborated to write a novel, look no further; this is it. Full of bizarre characters, an astonishing number of clairvoyant females, odd behaviors, and some of the worst human torture scenes I've ever read, this book delighted and disgusted me. Every character had a story, some more interesting than others, and the reader could tell that something was amiss with one of them.
Slaughtered animals and skinned humans peppered this novel of a man in search of the wife who abandoned him. Typically, Murakami gave excruciatingly painful detail from everything to a baseball bat beating reminiscent of _Crime and Punishment_ to the meals he ate every. single. day.
The craziest part of the novel, I thought, was the inexplicable draw to sitting in the bottom of dry wells. More than one character did this and more than several times. The dream sex that was actually real; the moving through the wall at the bottom of a well; the curses on people and houses; the secretive wig surveys; and the war stories of broken soldiers were almost too much to handle. This is complex.
The loose end was the unknown woman who called to speak pornographic messages to the main character. What happened to her?
This also reminded me of _Norwegian Wood_ because of the isolation one character sought from the madness of her life (ever since the main character entered it!). He visited it and found it pleasant. I'd like to go there, too, right now just to get some of this out of my head. If it wasn't so darn entertaining it would be painful.
This was one of the most bizarre books I have ever read. I read it for a book club, and it was a chore to try to get through. No one in the book club understood what was going on, or who the many characters really were. There is no real resolution at the end, that we could figure out. There must be a great deal of symbolism that none of us could figure out, and we wondered if we had known more about Japanese history if we would have understood the book better. The book has gotten great reviews, but it isn't a book that I enjoyed.
Although marketed as literary fiction Id definitely categorize this as fantastic realism. Murakami is definitely influenced by Kafka, but has a very Japanese perspective and a distinctive style all his own.
As the novel opens we are introduced to Toru Okada and his wife Kumiko a seemingly average young married couple. Mr. Okada has recently quit his job at a legal firm to try to decide what he really wants to do with his life but Kumiko has a good job, so overall, their biggest worry seems to be that their cat has gone missing. Okada isnt doing much he looks for the cat, does domestic chores, becomes acquainted with a teenage neighbor, May Kasahara, who is recovering from a motorcycle accident. His wifes unpleasant brother, Noboru Wataya, puts him, indirectly, in touch with a weird couple of sister psychics with the unlikely names of Malta and Creta Kano, ostensibly to help find the cat. It seems strange, but the Wataya family is known to consult psychics, as a matter of fact, they had encouraged the couple to see one before, the elderly WWII vet Mr. Honda, who always told more war stories than he made prophecies
But then, Kumiko goes missing. The evidence seems to indicate that she left her husband for another man but this just doesnt ring true to Okada. His brother-in-law, Noboru Wataya, now a rising star in politics, seems to take on a much more sinister aspect, as allegations against him surface. Dark family secrets are hinted at Okada is definitely a go-with-the-flow kind of guy, but he cant help feeling that Kumiko is being kept from him, that she has not chosen to leave him. Following vague and subject-to-interpretation statements from psychic advice, he sits down in a well on a neighboring property that is rumored to be haunted or at least ill-omened to think. The well seems to gain a sort of compelling force over him. A weird mark appears on his face, which in turn attracts another weird psychic team the obsessively fashionable Nutmeg, and her mute son Cinnamon, who recruit Okada into their lucrative business. But still the well calls him back Okada seems to believe that he is getting close to something self-revelation? A way to discover the truth? A way to get Kumiko back?
The book meshes realistic depiction of modern Japan, surreal psychic phenomena, astral travel, and tales of WWII and its aftermath its heavily symbolic, and effectively evocative in its creation of atmosphere Ill be looking out for more of Murakamis books.
To say that this is an odd novel is a major understatement. I felt like I was reading someone's dream. I was hoping for a tying up of events, characters by the end of the novel but it did not happen. Dreams don't tie up loose ends either. Maybe that was the point...
This book can best be described as the title itself suggests, as a chronicle. I really enjoyed the leaps from ordinary mundane life, into the surreal dream/nightmare life that the main character, Mr. Okada, finds himself. And then there are the first hand accounts of historical narrative from pre and post WWII! I know I am not nearly clever enough to delve deeply into the book to see how all the imagery connects, the well, and water and love, death, and sex all have in common, but it was sure fun getting to try. what I think Murakami does best though, is paint a scene so that you are there... feeling the heat, hearing the cicadas (or the wind- up bird) or tasting what Okada is having for lunch. I am glad I read this chronicle.. it is unlike anything else I have ever read.
So I'm not really sure how to rate this book. This is one where I do feel like I recognize the quality of the writing so I'm inclined to give it a higher rating, but I didn't really enjoy reading it at all. It was kind of a chore to finish. I don't think it needed to be as long as it was, I think a lot of parts were extraneous, and while this wasn't the MOST annoying Murakami protagonist I've read he still grated on me. There was lots of what I guess I would define as magical realism? Which I don't really like anywhere, so I'm already starting with a negative opinion in terms of that.
I guess in the end where I'm coming down on Murakami is that most of his novels are the same protagonist having the same conflicts about the same broad concepts. Can we really connect with other people or are we fundamentally alone? I guess if you want to use your life's work to try to sort out one particular question that's your prerogative, but I don't know that it's a concept I personally am invested in reading about time and again.
As to recommendations, it seems like kind of a cop-out but: if you like Murakami, I'm sure you'll like this. If you don't, probably not. I know that's not a ton of help for new readers but I feel like there's enough about Murakami and his style out there that you can probably judge for yourself if you're interested.
IN SUMMARY: I'm giving this novel a 3 based on the quality of the writing and the fact that I think this is honestly probably a better book than I'm giving it credit for. BUT IT'S A RELUCTANT THREE.