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Murasaki Shikibu, Royall Tyler
She Rises
Kate Worsley
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin New review from 14/04/12 -

I first read this book a few years ago… 2008 or 2007 and have for a long time wanted to re-read a Murakami. This was my second Murakami and I was still fairly unfamiliar with him as an author. I remember wracking my brains to think what all this meant. Reading it for the second time gave me the opportunity to just step back and let the story flow over me without worrying about what it meant.

I have always thought re-reading is a worthwhile experience anyway – but some books in particular do benefit from reading a second time. There is no way anyone can pick up everything from reading a book once – some things are just not obvious until you read back with the knowledge what happens next.

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is made up of many different strands, that all seem to be completely unrelated. Yet, as I carried on reading I slowly began to pick up the threads and somehow draw them together. Somehow, Murakami takes scenes from what happened within Manchuria after the war and ties it together with an ominous character, Noburu Wataya who is Toru Okada’s brother in law. Wataya is a politician, his power over Japan is dangerous and consuming but everyone else but Okada seem to love him and flock towards him, unaware of his true nature.

It begins with Toru Okada. Okada is currently unemployed and staying home as a househusband, whilst his wife goes out to work for a health magazine. Their cat has recently gone missing. One day his wife leaves for work and she too disappears.

Okada is a normal young man. He has little direction in his life, he seems to lack the drive to really take part in society. In fact, it feels as if he lives on the side lines – observing people as they go past. He passively accepts what comes across and let’s things simply happen to him. However, throughout the story he finds himself in a constant battle to find his missing cat, and discover the whereabouts of his wife.

Along the way he meets different characters who he finds a connection with. They tell him their stories. He finds himself making friends with a young and confused girl from his local neighbourhood whilst searching for his missing cat.

Reading The Wind-up Bird Chronicle makes you think and feel. What does this mean? And then you let that float over you. It is the way that these parts make you think and feel, I believe, that draws the separate threads together.

There is a feeling of calmness about reading this book – but beneath the still water, deep currents lie...

Old retrospective review written several years after having read it...

Not as good as Kafka on the Shore I thought, but still fairly good - very weird but enjoyable. It slowed down towards the end and it took me a while really to find the will to complete it.

Murakami writes abstract fiction. I'm not sure if it is supposed to make sense or if it simply just meanders around with enough basic meaning to complete a story.

I don't think he's an author for everyone, but he has a special something that draws me into the world of the characters within. It's strange, but he writes as if it is all perfectly normal, nothing fantastical or weird.

Toru Okada's pet cat has gone missing and his wife has become distant and removed. Toru leads a rather directionless life and seems to drift around letting things happen around him but seeming to have no control.

People predicted him strange prophesies that for some reason or another come true. People come in and out of his life, though for the large part - Toru remains passive to these encounters.

The people he meet he seems to have a strange positive effect on. They tell him stories of their life and seem to pass through him as he heads in one direction - to save his wife whom he has lost.