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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

15 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

A reviewer

Haruki Murakami is known for his casual narration, his lack of conventional plot structure, and for the many metaphysical happenings in his books that more often than not go completely unexplained. The latter of these things may seem off-putting to a first time reader,...
Haruki Murakami is known for his casual narration, his lack of conventional plot structure, and for the many metaphysical happenings in his books that more often than not go completely unexplained. The latter of these things may seem off-putting to a first time reader, but I think of this as a strength. To put it another way, finishing a novel by Haruki Murakami is like awakening from a dream that you know instantly was important and meaningful, but whose meaning still remains unclear. It is a powerful experience, and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is among his deepest and most complex works. The plot is centered around Toru Okada, who wakes up one day to find that not only has his cat gone missing, but his wife has left him, disappearing without a trace or a reason. As Okada seeks to find her and to reconcile with her, he meets many unusual people who either help or hinder his progress: sisters Creta and Malta Kano, the former of whom describes herself as a 'prostitute of the mind'...a wealthy former fashionista identified only as Nutmeg, and her deaf son Cinnamon...war veteran Lt. Mamiya who survived an encounter in World War II but still feels his life has been taken from him...opinionated teenager May Kasahara who lives in his neighborhood...and his well-known politician brother-in-law, Noboru Wataya. Hovering aroung this narrative is a mysterious bird, often heard but never seen, that Okada feels is winding the world's springs, ensuring that reality continues another day. The story culminates in a most likely metaphysical hotel that can only be reached by descending to the bottom of a dried-up well. There are many side stories and characters that make the book more interesting, giving it more depth and casting different lights on the situations. And while the ending is open to interpretation of the reader, it is a satisfying and ultimately victorious ending, for in many cases Murakami deals not with achieving success at life, but at achieving success at being able to live. Subtle and complex, this is perhaps the greatest of Haruki Murakami's works.

posted by Anonymous on November 10, 2007

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

A Trainwreck Garbed in Pseudo-Surrealism

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle would not be a bad book if the first 150 pages and the last 60 pages were removed from its current edition. Put simply, it is a miserably convulted book with vague and often unbelievable (I'm quite sure even surrealists were lost several times...
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle would not be a bad book if the first 150 pages and the last 60 pages were removed from its current edition. Put simply, it is a miserably convulted book with vague and often unbelievable (I'm quite sure even surrealists were lost several times) plot "twists" that chop the rhythm of the novel into a clunking mass, slowing down just as the reader is finally starting to get red-cheeked. Though Murakami's style has been compared to that of Thomas Pynchon, this book alone seems to be more than enough to disprove any allegation of the sort.

The beginning of the text is boring but promising, making you believe that soon you'll be given something really worth while. However, the reader is only rewarded with a good bit of writing that, while skillfully penned in terms of composition, leaves them feeling as if sections of the book (primarily those explaining major plot elements) have been ripped from their copy. Characters walk in and out of view all at once with little or no introduction and, in what appears to be the author's last-ditch effort to suddenly correct this, suddenly decide to spill every personal detail save their shoe size and PIN number with the main character 200 pages later.

While many Kafka readers will be drawn to the feeling of unnatural normalcy that Murakami's work usually exudes, they will starve to death trying to leech off of the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. There's nothing to see or read here except a series of unorganised events.

posted by HaydenDerk on April 12, 2009

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  • Posted April 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Trainwreck Garbed in Pseudo-Surrealism

    The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle would not be a bad book if the first 150 pages and the last 60 pages were removed from its current edition. Put simply, it is a miserably convulted book with vague and often unbelievable (I'm quite sure even surrealists were lost several times) plot "twists" that chop the rhythm of the novel into a clunking mass, slowing down just as the reader is finally starting to get red-cheeked. Though Murakami's style has been compared to that of Thomas Pynchon, this book alone seems to be more than enough to disprove any allegation of the sort.

    The beginning of the text is boring but promising, making you believe that soon you'll be given something really worth while. However, the reader is only rewarded with a good bit of writing that, while skillfully penned in terms of composition, leaves them feeling as if sections of the book (primarily those explaining major plot elements) have been ripped from their copy. Characters walk in and out of view all at once with little or no introduction and, in what appears to be the author's last-ditch effort to suddenly correct this, suddenly decide to spill every personal detail save their shoe size and PIN number with the main character 200 pages later.

    While many Kafka readers will be drawn to the feeling of unnatural normalcy that Murakami's work usually exudes, they will starve to death trying to leech off of the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. There's nothing to see or read here except a series of unorganised events.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2006

    Utterly infuriating in the end

    For the most part, except for one huge exception, I agree with the salon review. HOWEVER, in the end, I did feel cheated. And angry that I spent two weeks engrossed in something so utterly unsatisfying in the end. Murakami gives you too much, too many questions, yet in the end does not resolve anything. This of course is his choice. I understand, a post-modern writer writing about loss of identity, it's hard to find. But if you are a reader who expects to gain from your reading, you will be disappointed by Murakami, for in the end you have only lost, lost not only the weeks you spent reading this tome but also that in the end, it only leaves you more disoriented in your own life than you started out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2004

    Same ol'....Same ol'

    Albeit, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is Murakami's most ambitious attempt to date he still can't help dredging up the same ol' story line(disappearing, dying women), the same characters(Toru? He's in every novel!!), and imagery(below ground, well, etc.) that he always uses. Why do I feel like I am the only person that enjoys Murakami, but realizes that he just keeps repackaging the same stuff over and over again. He is a great writer who lost his imagination long ago. So...read one and you've read them all!! That being said his novel 'Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World' is his most imaginative and unique work to date.

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    Posted March 1, 2012

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    Posted December 27, 2009

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    Posted November 14, 2011

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    Posted October 22, 2014

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    Posted May 22, 2011

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    Posted October 16, 2011

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