Wind Up Bird Chronicle-Murakami   Leave a comment

By following the ‘1001 books to read before you die’, I have now read most of the novels by Murakami and enjoying them all. This is the last one on the list for me to read by this author.

I am getting used to Murakami’s style now. All novels were originally written in Japanese, this was published in 1994 and the English translation in 1997. The story is set in Japan and centres around Toru Okada, an unemployed young man, who is unsatisfied with his career path; who is tasked to find their missing cat, by his busy working wife. Murakami seems to always write about troubled adolescents, or depressed young men with issues to work through, so this is a similar scenario.

During the search for the cat, Toru becomes interested in an adjacent vacant house, which has an empty well in the garden and according to his teenage neighbour, May, is cursed. Komiko his wife, employs a fortune teller to help, as suggested by her brother, Noboru Wataya.

Komiko suddenly goes missing, later her brother contacts Toru to say she has left him for another man, but that doesn’t seem to fit the facts as Toru sees it. He involves the fortune teller in this too. He takes a job with his neighbour, May, and also goes to the vacant house and goes down the well, sitting alone at the bottom, where he can think. During this time he seems to have a mystical experience. Murakami likes to play with reality, I have found.

As a result of his experience in the well he develops a blue mark on his face. He is suddenly offered a terrific job out of nowhere by Nutmeg, a smart professional woman. Toru realises this is connected with the blue mark, and it enables him to bring relief to people’s inner turmoil, although it never explains how exactly. Toru moves into the empty house and has access now to the well.

If I explained the significance of the well, it would ruin the plot, but now all the pieces are in place for Toru to solve the puzzle and rescue his wife, Komiko. It gets very fast moving as the end approaches. It is a great read, and I guarantee you will spend time afterwards making all the connections, seeing how it all worked. A very complex plot, all about realities.

Murakami also has his obligatory musical references, including a few operatic ones. As a musician, I enjoy spotting these in each book. They aren’t always so obvious. For instance, the original Japanese version is in 3 parts, all referring to birds, but the last part is ‘the birdcatcher’ – an obvious reference to Mozart’s Magic Flute- as any opera buff would know, but for many people a bit obscure. This is the only mention of the phrase in the book, too!

I will be looking for more by Murakami, I think, he is becoming quite addictive.


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