What I’m Reading: The Wind Up Bird Chronicle
December 2, 2013 Leave a comment
So I recently finished read Maruki Murakami’s novel The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. I was so captured by his inventive and surreal writing in Kafka on the Shore that I felt compelled to pick another one of his books almost right away. In many ways Chronicle differs strongly from its older brother; to me it seems more an exploration of the surrealist writing Murakami will come to perfect in Kafka (and no doubt novels published since), but for that juvenility we get instead a wildly creative piece of writing uninhibited by a self-aware duty to cohesive plot lines. That’s not to say that Chronicle is a hard book to follow, it merely is as I have just hinted to: a creative tour de force full of passion, romance, history, explorations of the mind and our perception of the world around us.
The book follows the adventures of Toru Okada and the chain of events that effect his life after the rather humble setback of his cat having run away. Though, after that, I struggle to find words that can succinctly, even elaborately, describe this book. Even if I had wanted to give away the plot in this review I would find it a challenge, for Murakami’s novel’s depth comes from in part it’s intricate plot and fascinating characters and in part from what the events and historical flashbacks may mean to the individual reading them. That is a skill I admire most in Murakami, that his works that seem so abstract on paper take life when read in story. There seems to be a subtext to his work that is more implicit than explicit, it does not feel like he is forcing an agenda down your throat, more like he is trying to help you realise what personal agendas are most important to you.
Chronicle is a long, epic story and worthy of the length which befits the detail Murakami goes into. His story in this is more small-scale than in Kafka but in a sense it is also vastly broad. Not meaning to use paradox for effect, it must be said that though Chronicle’s story is set mainly in and around the block in which Okada lives the novel also takes you far elsewhere. An enigmatic statement perhaps, but if you don’t believe me you better pick up the book for yourself.