Monday, January 12, 2009

Book Review: The Wind-up Bird Chronicle

Haruki Murkami's The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is truly an abstract and surreal piece of work. With my friend's raves about the author in mind, I set upon to read my very first book by Haruki Murkami. What I expect I did not know. But I certainly did not prepare myself for such a strange book.

Toru Okada is the poor protagonist of this book. At the beginning of this book he was directionless and aimless. His life changed when his cat when missing and he received strange calls. In a way, the book is about Toru's struggle for a path that he could walk. On this journey, he met various people who he changed their lives and in turn changed his life. This summary of the book is extremely shallow but I can't write more without spoiling the plot.

I will not claim that all parts of this book is enjoyable. There are parts where I feel that there has been far too many repetitions, part of the book whereby the story could have been better if they are cut. You also should not expect a clear ending where all the questions are resolved for they are not.

As I mentioned, there are too many loose-ends. We never knew exactly what happen to some characters or who they really are. Whether this is deliberate I do not know. It certainly adds on to the mysterious feel of Murakami's writing. It certainly had an effect on creating some of the more crazy characters I have have seen.

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle has two missing chapters that are not included in the English translation of the book. This may or may not have an effect on the overall enjoyment of the book. Regardless, I enjoyed this book, particularly the parts about the world war. I recommend anyone to read it. The book may be a little slow in the beginning, but it is definitely worth it to read it the end.

1 comment:

Jay said...

That loose ends are not tied is very deliberate, and a running theme of Murakami's. He's stated that his aim was to subvert the classic Raymond Chandler style detective story that many of his novels appear to take cues from. This is just my opinion, but sometimes I think sometimes there can be too much closure at the end of a novel; to my mind Murakami gets it right more often than not (Norwegian Wood has a particularly poignant and expertly realised end).

I'm glad you enjoyed The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, but as a review, I don't think you've conveyed enough here to really give readers a sense of what they may or may not take from the book. I think maybe mentioning the story's magical realism elements, or the classic American underpinnings to Murakami's style (English-to-Japanese translation of fiction being a big part of his work) might have been helpful.

If you enjoyed The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, but not all it's aspects, you might get more from After The Quake. It's a book of short stories, all related, that I think gives a better sense of where Murakami is coming from in terms of his pretty unique take on purposefully impenetrable symbolism.

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