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Saturday, February 2, 2013

THE WIND UP BIRD CHRONICLES by HARUKI MURAKAMI


I really should go (at least for a little while) for books which are not so heavy. This was 600 odd pages and it was heavy reading.

Having read quite a bit about this author, I was very curious to see how I would go with Japanese literature. This was not an easy read. It kept me entranced in bits and pieces but my attention wandered over large tracts of the book.

Okada is a low key employee at a law firm. Married to Kumiko, apparently quite content in his marriage, he leaves his job and is at home. He takes over routine domestic jobs and is quite happy to be the house husband in this situation.  All the adventure starts with their cat going missing and subsequently Kumiko herself goes missing and then bizarre adventure after another follows, not all of which I could follow.

During this troubled period Okada meets up with several people - all quirky, all eccentric and all slightly "different". From May Kasahara a troubled teenager, to Malta Kano to Creta Kano both taking names from two islands, to Nutmeg and Cinnamon Akasaka. All these people had fantastic histories behind them and their life history sounds very surreal. They all also have features in their lives which connect them in some way to each other - whether its a mark on the face which suddenly appears to prostitution to rape to the coincidence that whoever hears the wind up bird ends up dead.

It was very difficult to know what was real and what was fantasy in the book. I am not very good at analysing fantasy and maybe the fault lies with me! Whether the fantasies experienced by Okada was in a dreamlike state relating to his life I do not know.  For me it was a bit of a mess and though I plodded through it I did not enjoy the book as much as I felt I should.

I have Norwegian Wood with me but I think its going to be a while before I get to that book.

10 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I have a feeling my mind would wander as I read this too. Fantasy is not for me.

Heather said...

I listened to the audiobook version of this and while it was an unusual book, on a whole, I did enjoy it.

Book Dilettante said...

I started the book and have to get back to it. It requires attention and dedication on my part, and I am too easily distracted from serious reading. My hope is to finish it this year for the Japanese Literary Challenge 6 hosted by Dolce Bellezza!

I did finish Murakami's IQ84, a really huge book of about 1,000 pages, read on my Kindle, and I enjoyed it!

Noelle the dreamer said...

Definitively NOT something I would enjoy reading. That's the best part about hearing someone's else opinion: you are warned ahead of time (I am guilty of trusting much too often book covers and synopsises!)
Thanks!
All the best,

samstillreading said...

This book is definitely odd. I love Murakami, but I couldn't love this. Norwegian Wood is much 'straighter' - no hiding in wells or weirdness - just a love story.

Yvonne said...

This doesn't sound like my kind of book. Seems a bit strange and long. I'm not good with long books :)

Joy Weese Moll said...

That does sound like a difficult book.

Meg @ A Bookish Affair said...

I love Murakami but you definitely have to be in a certain mood to read his books!

Lisa said...

Yikes, I just signed up to do a readalong of this one. I had no idea how long it is and was already nervous about reading it. I fear now that I'm really going to regret this one but I guess then I can cross this author off my must-read list!

sakura said...

Norwegian Wood is a very different book to this one - it's probably the closest to realistic contemporary fiction as Murakami will get. It's my favourite of his books so I hope you do give it a try after you've recovered from this one!