The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami is a favorite of my friend Cindy, who's also a book-devourer, so I thought I'd give this book a try at her recommendation. It's hard to describe or summarize—it's a fairly long novel that I would describe as "vast." There are stories within stories; almost every character tells long stories of their own, which intertwine in unexpected ways. The frame story is about Toru Okada, whose life gets turned upside down shortly after his cat disappears. He gets mysterious phone calls, has bizarre dreams, and his wife disappears as well. Murakami crafts fantastic dream sequences, but with the strange events occurring in reality, it's often hard to remember which things are dreams and which aren't.

Since this book was translated from the Japanese (by Jay Rubin), I have to wonder how the original reads. For instance, did Murakami mean "macaroni gratin" or was he really just saying "macaroni and cheese"? How much of the feel of the writing is due to Rubin's word choice and phrasing? What would have happened if another translator had been used instead?

In the end, I thought the book was very engaging and intriguing; I certainly wasn't able to predict where it was going in the least bit. I was a little dissatisfied with the ending, though. There were so many questions and mysteries raised throughout the novel that I wondered how Murakami would tie them all up by the end. And, in fact, he doesn't; there are a number of things left unresolved, which bugs me, but what can you do?

Fed to jonathan's brain | February 19, 2004