Author: Haruki Murakami
Number of pages: 607
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Japan’s most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II.
In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife’s missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan’s forgotten campaign in Manchuria.
Gripping, prophetic, suffused with comedy and menace, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a tour de force equal in scope to the masterpieces of Mishima and Pynchon. (Murakami’s site)
I couldn’t recall ever having had a nickname. Never once in my life. Why was that? “No nickname,” I said…“Gee,” she said, “Think of something.”
“Wind-up bird,” I said.“Wind-up bird?” she asked, looking at me with her mouth open. “What is that?”“The bird that winds the spring,” I said. “Every morning. In the tree tops. It winds the world’s spring. Creeeak.” (p. 62)
It was a narrow world, a world that was standing still. But the narrower it became, and the more it betook of stillness, the more this world that enveloped me seemed to overflow with things and people that could only be called strange. They had been there all the while, it seemed, waiting in the shadows for me to stop moving. And every time the wind-up bird came to my yard to wind its spring, the world descended more deeply into chaos. (p. 125)
I close my eyes and separate from this flesh of mine, with its filthy tennis shoes, its weird goggles, its clumsy erection. Separating from the flesh is not so difficult. It can put me far more at ease, allow me to cast off the discomfort I feel. I am a weed-choked garden, a flightless stone bird, a dry well.” (p. 368)
To tell you the truth, I have no idea what this long, strange story of mine will mean to you, Mr. Okada. Perhaps it is nothing more than an old man’s mutterings. But I wanted to-I had to-tell you my story. As you can see from having read my letter, I have lived my life in total defeat. I have lost I am lost. I am qualified for nothing. Through the power of the curse, I love no one and am loved by no one. A walking shell, I will simply disappear into darkness. Having managed at long last, however, to pass my story on to you, Mr. Okada, I will be able to disappear with some small degree of contentment.May the life you lead be a good one, a life free of regrets. (p. 564)