The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami
True to form, Murakami delivers a peculiar, mildly hallucinogenic experience. We meet the directionless Toru Okada, who, while searching for his lost cat, is drawn into deeper, darker mysteries including: murder, sister mystics, prophetic sex dreams, the mind-numbing spiral of daily routines, and hours spent at the bottom of a well. There’s also a gripping side plot about the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, where the writing becomes much more horrifying, but equally surreal.
This is my second Murakami book, and I preferred the other. When Toru Okada did not understand much about his life circumstances, I couldn’t understand much either, and so I felt untethered, drifting away during certain longer passages and side plots. I continue to struggle with Murakami’s characterization of women; he tends to portray female characters as either ominously, sexily inscrutable, or as quirky-cute inexplicable girl-women. And the book is very long.
But Murakami’s strengths are in here too. His fascination with the formless places in our consciousnesses where worlds – real, bygone, and imagined – brush against each other. His quintessentially Japanese way of understating profundity. His charming deadpan tone, his ability to mesmerize. His unexpected, delightful analogies and descriptive details. Perhaps the most Murakami-like aspect is the sheer difficulty of writing a comprehensible review. It’s so sprawling, and resists synthesis. Definitely one-of-a-kind.
The 215 in 2015 series chronicles every book I read in 2015. Each review contains exactly 215 words, because 2015 words is too long and 2015 characters is too dang short. And yes, this review is backlogged from 2015.
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