The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

I read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami on a reccommendation from Meg Andrew, a sister of a friend of Catherine Knight nee  Peisher’s.

Meg is out in California in grad school at Stanford (i think?). This was the gist of our online conversation which led to my reading this book.


[13:39] Meg Andrew: isn’t there anything else you could do there?
[13:39] TarzanBoy007: on campus? not really
[13:39] TarzanBoy007: i odn’t have any gf/s down there or anything, lol
[13:40] Meg Andrew: you could bring a book and read outside watching the IM games or something
[13:40] TarzanBoy007: i did that a little bit last week
[13:40] TarzanBoy007: i don’t have a good book to read
[13:41] Meg Andrew: stop by a bookstore
[13:41] Meg Andrew: does the tech bookstore have a regular book section?
[13:42] TarzanBoy007: yes
[13:42] TarzanBoy007: but its not super large
[13:43] Meg Andrew: should still have good books
[13:43] Meg Andrew: what kind of books do you like?
[13:44] TarzanBoy007: good narrative i guess
[13:44] TarzanBoy007: depends
[13:44] Meg Andrew: that’s not a genre
[13:44] TarzanBoy007: i know
[13:44] TarzanBoy007: i don’t have a fav genre, i guess
[13:44] TarzanBoy007: antying that keeps my interst is good
[13:44] Meg Andrew: you could look for the book I just lent Jenny. we both loved it
[13:44] TarzanBoy007: what is it about
[13:44] Meg Andrew: Windup Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
[13:45] Meg Andrew: it’s weird.]
[13:45] Meg Andrew: it’s about this normal guy, but all of a sudden completely bizarre things start happening to him
[13:45] Meg Andrew: probably Amazon has a better synopsis…
[13:50] Meg Andrew:…
[13:54] TarzanBoy007: sounds interesting enough
[13:54] Meg Andrew: ooh, or have you read Life of Pi by Yann Martel?
[13:54] Meg Andrew: it’s really good!
[13:54] TarzanBoy007: no
[13:54] TarzanBoy007: what is that about
[13:55] Meg Andrew: an indian boy immigrating to Canada with his family and their zoo
[13:55] Meg Andrew: only there’s a ship wreck
[13:55] Meg Andrew: and he and the tiger: Richard Parker, are the sole survivors, and drift across the Pacific in a beginner kayak.
[13:57] TarzanBoy007: which is better
13:57] Meg Andrew: I dunno
[13:57] Meg Andrew: they’re both good
[13:57] Meg Andrew: I have to go to ballet now
[13:57] Meg Andrew: good luck finding something to do
[13:58] TarzanBoy007: ok

About two weeks later I bought it at the Border’s in Buckhead. The original novel was written in Japanese by a japanese author. The book is set in Japan, but aside from some historical and geographical references, the foreign setting does not preclude the reader’s comprehension of the story (in other words, familiarity with Japan neither helps nor hinders reading this book).

As for the writing itself…. I haven’t read all that many modern novels, but I was impressed by the depth and illustration of everyday details in the story. I don’t mean to say that every landscape or scene is tirelessly described with 2 pages of adjectives and imagery a la Tolkien. The author does an impressive job connecting events, giving information and descriptions with a precision that makes you not question at all whether or not the events in the story happened at all. It *is* a fiction novel, so nothing in the story (save some historical references) really happened, but it crafts a wholly believable world with very round characters (at least, compared with what i’ve been reading *cough*JKROWLING*cough*)

Wind-Up is a strange story about a very peculiar set of events that center around the main character, Toru Okada. Toru is a middle aged man that lives with his wife in a suburb. He first notices things that have gone awry when his cat goes missing, but soon learns that the missing cat is just the start of peculiar happenings, trials, decisions and forays he will make as his normal life starts to unravel itself. He is counseled and aided by two sisters with psychic talents Psychic Journey that often does free psychic readings for him and tell him just enough to make him wonder why noone can give him any real information. Soon enough, he starts to realize that the causes of problems aren’t necessarily their real root… and that is when things really start to get even more strange.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Its not the best book that I have ever read, and I’m not even sure how good a re-read it will be… but I found it very very hard to put down every time I picked it up. I often stayed up till 4, 5, and even 6 in the morning just reading to find out what was going to happen next. The main story is not difficult to understand, but I don’t feel like I could nail down or isolate any themes in the book because so much happens. I’m not always good at that sort of thing anyways, and its not requisite to enjoying the novel. The author does go out of his way to explain the main theme of the title, the wind-up bird, which is mentioned here and there at a few points in the story.

The book has a good length, and as Meg pointed out after I’d finished it… long, good books tend to have seemingly unimpressive endings. This is probably due to a raised level of expectation from having taken to the first part of the story. I would reccomend this book to anyone looking for a solid read. When I say solid, i mean something with a little bit more to it than the pop-narrative (like Clancy, et al) that won’t disappoint you. I’ve never gone to a coffeehouse to read anything, but I imagine this is the kind of book you could spend hours there reading. Don’t bring this book there if you’re looking to socialize, though… you’ll end up not talking to anyone 😉

Well, those are my thoughts. I’ve never really reviewed a book before, so forgive me if this review lacks the proper form. Thanks to Meg for a great reccomendation! My only gripe is that the book cost $15 for a TPB (trade paperback). Which is what I’m used to spending on hardbacks.


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