Sunday, 15 April 2012
NOVEL - The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Haruki Murakami)
When I finish a book, I look it up on Wikipedia it to see what it has to say about it. Expecting a long synopsis of the book, this is what I get:
"The novel is about a low-key unemployed man, Toru Okada, whose cat runs away. A chain of events follow that prove that his seemingly mundane life is much more complicated than it appears."
When two sentences is all Wikipedia has to say about something, you know the topic at hand either has no substance or is too elaborate for anyone to actually be bothered to write a proper summary of it. In this case, it's the latter.
Nearly everything in this book is a motif. Cats, baseball bats, water, flows, music, clothing, darkness, wells. Everything is symbolic for something and the book not only depicts the life of Toru Okada, it goes into so much detail with the lives of the other characters, you begin to wonder if the book is actually about Toru and his missing cat. With 600+ pages, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is so dense, I had to take breaks now and then because it became too much.
I really liked Lieutenant Mamiya's army storyline. Usually I don't care much when books integrate actual historical events because sometimes it just feels like a history lesson, but what Lieutenant recounted to Toru was so fascinating and graphic, that it ended up being one of my favourite parts of the book.
I also adored Toru and May Kasahara's platonic relationship, slightly similar Toru Watanabe and Midori Kobayashi from Murakimi's earlier novel Norwegian Wood. The irony is that despite her quirky personality and her 'interesting' way of expressing herself (“When I see a dictionary on my desk I feel like I’m looking at some strange dog leaving a twisty piece of poop”), May ends up being the most realistic, normal (in a non-supernatural way) character. Her and Toru's constant rumination over death and human life provides much needed fodder for my Textual Dynamics essay.
One more thing I want to mention is the character Noboru Wataya, of which Toru absolutely despises. An academic and later a politician with much power at his finger tips, he intrigues me, reminding me of Patrick Bateman of American Psycho or John Tuld from Margin Call. When most people stop, he keeps going and what scares you about those types of people is not just what they're capable of, but how much it takes to stop them.
The ending is satisfying and despite not every issue being 100% resolved (eg: the mysterious woman on the phone), this leaves room for you to think about the actual novel and the ideas that it raises. This is the second book that I have read by Murakami and so far, I am far from being disappointed. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is definitely worth a read.