Thursday, December 2, 2010

156 - The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle; Haruki Murakami


Haruki Murakami's, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, read by Rupert Degas was one amazing performance. Degas captured all of the characters of this bizarre novel with pitch-perfect skill.

The sympathetic protagonist, thirty-something, Toru Okada is one unlucky man. A bit of a sad-sap, he loses his job (well he quit his job) as a legal assistant at a Tokyo law firm, then the family cat has disappears, and soon after his wife, Kumiko, vanishes as well. Even before Toru starts to look for her, he begins some introspective soul searching, and blames himself and his shortcomings: no job and not much ambition, as the reasons she has left.

Little by little a motley crew of strangers surface to help Toru, or at least give him some advice while he searches for his cat and his wife. There is May Kasahara, a teenage girl who is troubled by her boyfriend's death.  There are psychic sisters Malta Kana and her sister Creta who share insight into where the cat may be. The reader is also introduced to, Lieutenant Mamiya, a man who tells fascinating WWII tales, which include having spent time at the bottom of a well.  This well experience is significant as Toru seems to do his best thinking  near an empty well behind a vacant house.  There is even the evil villain, Norboru Watata, who is Toru's brother-in-law, that adds interest into an already complicated plot line.

Each of the characters in this novel seem to drift in and out of Toru's world. Whether through dreams, out of body experiences, or events real or imagined, each has experienced some sort of pain, and is in search of some meaning in their life as well.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, is not an easy read, but it is one of the those books that hooks you early on, and will have you anxiously wanting to find out more. Murakami's writing is brilliant.  He always makes you think, and search for some deeper meaning when reading or listening to his work. With themes of loneliness and alienation,  I am in some ways reminded of the last book I listened to by him, Dance, Dance, Dance, which also has a lonely, sympathetic man as its protagonist.

If you are looking for a book that has all the loose ends neatly sewn up at the end, this probably is not a book that you would enjoy. However, if you like books with vivid imagery and reoccurring themes, that keep you on your toes and wanting more, Murakami is a fantastic author to begin with.

This reader, Rupert Degas, is amazing. Audio version is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

RATING - 4.5/5 stars
Library Audio Book

22 comments:

  1. Oh, I so dearly love this author, and the book, too, of course. I'd never dream of listening to it, because Murakami is rather complicated, but after reading your post I can imagine that it would be a great experience. I'll give it a try, thank you! Because there are never enough times to enjoy Wind Up Bird or Kafka on The Shore.

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  2. I do enjoy books like this but not this time of year when I have so much going on that I find it hard to concentrate. Great review!

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  3. I have read him but not this book. Thanks for this review. This has been on my TBR list for sometime now.

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  4. This book sounds truly fascinating. Maybe I will read it for the JLC-4.

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  5. I started this book a few years back, and I must have been feeling sensitive at the time because I had to stop at that scene - you know the one? - because it made me feel physically ill. Now, it's been so long that I should probably just start all over again. I'd like to read the physical book, but at your suggestion, I'll at least check out the audio.

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  6. I would never have imagined that this book would work on audio! I loved WUBC, but it is so long and detailed that I would have thought it would be an audio flop. It is great to know that it isn't :-)

    I think this is one of those books that grows on you and becomes better the more you think about it. I only thought it was good when I finsished it, but a year on I LOVE it!

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  7. Great review and sounds like an interesting book.

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  8. I’ve only read Norwegian Wood and completely forgot about it 5 minutes after finishing.

    But there are so many so many Murakami supporters in the book blogosphere that I feel I must give him another shot.

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  9. I tried this book many years ago, and didn't have much success with it. I think I read it during a time when I was a bit unformed as a reader, and I just didn't get it. I am going to have to try again, as your review makes me think I am missing out!

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  10. I still haven't read any of his books. Grr!

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  11. Sounds interesting but it would probably take more concentration than I have right now. Glad you liked it.

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  12. Oops, concentration...about what? Oh, I have a couple wind up birds too!

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  13. I have heard great things about Murakami, but since it's not an easy read have put it off. I think it will have to wait until I have a little more time and concentration.

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  14. sounds interesting...but I know I just can't do audio books.

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  15. Cats were big in Kafka on the Shore, too...is that another one of his themes? Are cats considered themes?

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  16. I've been wanting to read this one..maybe I should get the book and audio!!

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  17. I love how frequently you review audiobooks! This is another one that's going onto the list. Thanks!

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  18. Sounds like a wonderful read to me. I will add Murakami to my list of 2011 must reads.

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  19. I really appreciate this review. I have not read anything by this author, but it sounds like something that would stretch my reading outside my comfort zone a little. The fact that the narrator was amazing, is also a big thing for me, as I won't continue with an audiobook if the narrator is mediocre, even if I like the book.

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  20. I have yet to read Haruki Murakami, and am wondering why I'm being lazy about picking his work up? There seem to be a number of books of his out there (I think), so I wonder which one I should start with first!

    As always, fantastic review!

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  21. I keep hearing about this author but haven't read anything yet. I shall have to correct that for 2011.

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  22. Sadly I have still read no Murakami. I've got to set a goal to rectify this in 2011.

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