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on 10 May 2017
Absolutely one of the most incredible, mind-bending books I've ever read (I've pencilled it in to re-read, so I can try to wrap my head round it!). Murakami is such an effortlessly excellent writer, I think his style has a beautiful flow to it, which lulls you into the story. As for the plot itself...prepare to have your head well and truly messed with! The scenes in the well are particularly memorable, and more than a little eerie. Love, love, LOVE this book.
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on 26 June 2017
This is at times a tough read, for me, i found myself engaged but also put off by some of the long winding story telling and unusual side stories.
I'm not sure if there is something that is lost in cultural translation, but at times i never felt completely involved in the story, but found the plotting and intrigue kept me involved.
Very hard to put a finger on what i liked about this book, but i know at the end i had enjoyed the journey, although it is a long one.
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on 8 December 2016
A great book! It's a book which will play on your mind for many days after reading it. I loved the sad and lonely characters plus the surreal moments. The author's style of writing is refreshing.
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on 29 April 2017
good
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on 4 July 2015
An ordinary decent person, his beloved wife walks out on him, influenced by her evil brother.
Read this book !
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on 25 April 2017
Not normally the type of book I read, not a bad read but not outstanding either.......... just an average book really
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on 6 January 2014
My words can't begin to do justice to this incredible and moving book. Another masterpiece from a gifted writer. Read it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 April 2017
Encouraged by his wife Kumiko’s willingness to support him, Toru Okada gives up his mundane job as a legal assistant to work out what he really wants to do. The quiet life of a “house husband” is punctuated with bizarre phone calls from strange women and encounters which lead to the spinning of some odd tales against the surreal background call of the wind-up bird. Toru’s most obvious trait is a remarkable passivity - possibly the author's indictment of Japanese men in general. When Kumiko expresses her detestation of beef stir-fried with green peppers, Toru dumps the offending mixture in the garbage, not out of pique but pragmatically because it is not required. Yet the incident leads him to wonder if it is possible “for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another”. If he will die without ever really knowing her, what is the point of a life confined to living together? His job-free existence gives him the freedom to philosophise in this way for the first time – a comment on the pressurised Japanese society of the 1990s.

Kumiko seems withdrawn, and may be unhappy or concealing something from Toru, as he admits he is doing in turn. Is he depressed, going a little mad, or utterly sane in stepping off the Japanese treadmill of hard work, conformity, keeping face, and pursuing a veneer of westernised culture underlain by oriental traditions. Before Kumiko was allowed to marry, for instance, she and Kumiko had to pay regular visits to a medium, to gain a favourable assessment from him. Similarly, Kumiko’s obnoxious brother consulted a clairvoyant on the whereabouts of her missing cat, named Noboru Wataya after him.

At first I was carried me along effortlessly, sucked in by Murakami’s plain, very readable style with a touch of wry humour which has been retained in Jay Rubin’s skilful translation. Then I began to sense that the interweaving of mundane daily life, unlikely events and implausible tales might simply trail away or prove to have no meaning, rather as one might define life in which one cannot be sure of reality, or of achieving outcomes which, if not satisfactory, are at least certain.

The repetition of domestic tasks, and recurrence of erotic dreams, began to bore me. I believe the translator has omitted some chapters and reordered others, which suggests a lack of editing, even self-indulgence on the part of the writer. Without knowing about the translator’s changes at the time, I had an increasing desire to skip pages, even reading the end to see if the book justified the effort of slogging through the 607 pages of the paperback version – both a bad sign.

I am ambivalent about this book. It has clearly become a “cult classic”, prompting widespread praise for its originality, surreal brilliance and philosophical insights. Yet, I cannot help suspecting it is simply an over-ambitious shambles which Murakami wrote for his own pleasure, with, of course, the added bonus of profit guaranteed by his fame.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 November 2016
Murakami writes well but overall this is a very unsatisfying read.

He has a wonderful way of drawing the reader into simple tales merely by describing little details of daily life and conversations. He does it mainly by creating suspense, which isn't the highest art of writing but I think he deserves to be called a master of narrative. The problem is that he creates far more mysteries than he solves and the underlying themes of psychology are nothing but fake insight. There is no real depth.

Most readers of Murakami presumably accept that his writing relies on his own special brand of supernatural. I don't have a problem with a novel departing from the laws of physics. I often read fantasy. But there is one overriding rule: the departures must conform to some logic. All magic in fiction has limits to how and what it can do and the way the author presents this determines to a large extent the quality of the book. If the rules are changed arbitrarily to suit the story, the result is unlikely to be a good book. Murakami is the worst possible offender. Not only is there no logic defining the supernatural powers, but he makes no effort to set out what it does, what it doesn't do or what triggers it and he throws in new forms of weirdness with interminable regularity like a bad writer who puts an obscure word in every paragraph. A few of the weird events are explained but the vast majority are not. They are simply inserted to keep the narrative spinning. The result is little better than pulp.

I read it to the end in the hope it wouldn't turn out to be so much nonsense as I feared. But it did.
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on 9 April 2017
Recently unemployed, Toru Okada spends his time cooking, ironing shirts and napping. For a protagonist, he is rather quiet. However, when the sudden disappearance of his cat coincides with a plethora of peculiar phone calls, his life takes a serious turn for the strange.

From the ordinary to the fantastical, the known to the unknown, Murakami spins an odd yet compelling tale. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a story laced with thought provoking philosophies and mysterious imaginings. With a cacophony of characters, each bearing their own absorbing tales, some truly violent and unsettling, but all imbued with the strange nature that Murakami is famous for, there is ever a new surprise waiting to be revealed.

For the novel’s protagonist, Toru is certainly a strange character, one who takes life entirely in his stride. Accepting each increasingly peculiar event in his life with near indifference, he exerts an overall nonchalance bordering on sheer insanity. With nothing in his life to distract him, no purpose of which to focus upon, he is strung along on the curious whims of others. Of course, in a world of Murakami’s, this can prove either enlightening, or fatal.

Whilst filled with many seemingly random yet absorbing stories, thoughts and interactions, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle did however seem to lack any sort of consistent narrative. The subtleties of Murakami can be great and well hidden, however in this instance I found much of the novel had to simply be appreciated for it’s style and grace, rather than for anything of apparent overall meaning. As a rather long novel, the impression leant was more of an amassed collection of Murakami’s odd musings than a consistent narrative.

Despite this, this is certainly a novel which causes intrigue, interest, doubt and confusion, all in the mesmerising style of its masterful author.
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