Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle


Title: The Wind Up Bird Chronicle

Author: Haruki Murakami

Number of pages: 608

Started: 11 April 2010

Finished: 28 April 2010

Opening words:

When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along with an FM broadcast of the overture to Rossini's The Thieving Magpie, which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta.

I wanted to ignore the phone, not only because the spaghetti was nearly done, but because Claudio Abbado was bringing the London Symphony to its musical climax.


Plot summary:

Bad things come in threes for Toru Okada. He loses his job, his cat disappears, and then his wife fails to return from work. His search for his wife (and his cat) introduces him to a bizarre collection of characters, including two psychic sisters, a possibly unbalanced teenager, an old soldier who witnessed the massacres on the Chinese mainland at the beginning of the Second World War, and a very shady politician.

What I thought:

This book was an interesting read. A book of two halves. If I were to say what I thought of it purely based on the first half, I would use a word like “brilliant”. It was really engrossing and engaging. A good story and told in a way that I really liked. But then there was the second half of the book and somehow those observations on it no longer seem to apply. I found the second half more of a mish mash of stories and occurrences and absurdities. I just didn’t get where the second half of the book was coming from and why it was taking so long to come to its conclusion.

So it was a strange read. A lot of Murakami’s books are odd (in a good way) and tell a good story be that through a narrator or a talking animal. But somewhere along the line I thought this book lost its way and it took a lot to make me see it through to the end. Having said that, I liked the closing pages. It was a well written and moving end to the book, but it didn’t half take a long time to get there.

2 comments:

TOM FOOLERY said...

Blinkin' 'eck Random, I was hoping you were going to throw some light on elements of the plot for me. I reckon this book would make a good film. Maybe not the skinning bit though :O

Random Reflections said...

TF - wouldn't I have had to understand the plot to be able to do that??

I think I followed most of it but sometimes it was a bit beyond me.

It could make a good film, but I suspect that it might lose some of its finer points if it is a Hollywood version.