Oh boy. It has been a long time since I picked up a novel of 600+ pages and I’ve gotta tell you, I was on major Struggle Street! But before we get in to that let me give you a quick synopsis of this book:
Toru Okada’s cat has disappeared and this has unsettled his wife, who is herself growing more distant every day. Then there are the increasingly explicit telephone calls he has started receiving. As this compelling story unfolds, the tidy suburban realities of Okada’s vague and blameless life – spent cooking, reading, listening to jazz and opera and drinking beer at the kitchen table – are turned inside out, and he embarks on a bizarre journey, guided (however obscurely) by a succession of characters, each with a tale to tell.
I have to admit, I didn’t love this one as much as my romp through 1Q84 last year, and I think it was my love of 1Q84 that led me to push through the strange and confusing beginning of this tale. In many ways, I’m glad I pushed through because there’s always something disquieting but oddly nice about being in one of Murakami’s real but fantastical worlds.
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle is no different in that regard, as Murakami intricately weaves modern-day Tokyo with historical battles with this strange other dimension/world (we never really know what it is, to be honest…or maybe that’s just me?). The characters are perfectly odd, from the mysterious woman on the other end of the phone, to the intriguing Malta Kano and Creta Kano, but the most interesting characters for me were Nutmeg and Cinnamon, who appear in the final ”Book” of these chronicles.
Okada is a strange protagonist, as he so often just goes along with whatever is happening without much questioning, but this manages to be rather endearing instead of just straight-up frustrating as a reader. While I don’t really agree with or understand some of the choices he makes (or doesn’t make) during the course of this novel, he was likeable enough to keep me reading so I could find out what the frack was going on.
You know, I don’t really know if I know what was going on, even after having finished the book, but Murakami does (thankfully) give some form of ending or closure to this meandering tome. So I guess it has that going for it!
Rating: Not the best introduction to Murakami if you haven’t previously read any of his work, however this story does still follow his signature whacked-out style and lyrical prose – so if that’s a reason you enjoy Murakami then dive right in!
Have you ever read a Murakami novel? If so, what’s your favourite?
I think I will read some more of his stuff still, because I find it weirdly captivating even though I absolutely cannot put my finger on why I feel that way. Maybe a shorter book next time though!
Until next time, readers.