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Customer Review

46 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insanely entertaining and thought provoking., 10 Jan. 2003
This review is from: The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (Paperback)
I grabbed this book off a shelf, never having heard of Murakami before, a few years ago before taking a plane to Greece with some friends. We were celebrating finishing our exams, staying at a tacky resort and basically drinking and sunbathing, but after a couple of days I found myself ducking out of bar crawls to head back to my room to read The Wind Up Bird Chronicle!
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle is a bloody difficult book to explain. There are so many different, and seemingly bizarrely unrelated, strands to the story. The only real constant is Toru, the main character, and as with many other works by Murakami he is a somewhat passive presence, trying to get his head round the flurry of unusual events, emotions and observations on life. His life is turned completely upside down, but rather than over-focusing on the strange goings on, we also have beautifully written pieces about such banal events as making pasta. On one level the Wind Up Bird Chronicle is almost fantastical in nature, so bizarre are the events, but Toru acts as a grounding force. His doubts, worries, and an imagination that all too often causes him pain, are very normal aspects of any person. It is his very mundanity and passive nature that allows the events to occur - many of the characters he meets simply because he doesn't have anything else that he could rather be doing, and therefore expands his mind and perspective.
Toru as a character provokes sympathy, but it is the events around him that provoke our interest. As a character he is purer, for want of a better word, than the central character of other Murakami books. In some ways he is simply a convenient centre on which to secure the rest of the story, which at times threatens to scatter out of control. Yet I became so convinced by the view of the story through his eyes that I felt quite close to him as a character, and felt that my own reaction to such events would be similarly bemused, or self doubting.
The Wind Up Birds Chronicle IS a confusing book. There were many times when I had to go back two or three pages to reread, largely in a case of 'double-take' - I wasn't sure, or couldn't believe, that something was happening in the way it was described. But considering the various strands, it's an impressive achievement to draw them together as effectively as Murakami does. This book is, in my opinion, a true classic.
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