“Is it possible, in the final analysis, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another?”
Read from October 01 to 18, 2016.
Paperback, 607 pages.
Murakami, this guy, he just gets me. His writing speaks to me and I can’t say that there are any other authors doing that for me right now. Love him or hate him, the man is just as much a philosopher as he is writer. Please also appreciate the fact that Murakami manages to talk about cats, food, and sex in practically all of his novels. No wonder I like this guy! Prophetic, imaginative and insightful, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a classic piece of Murakami philosophical fiction.
Toru Okada lives an unremarkable life. However, shortly after he quits his job, with no other prospects lined up, things take a sad and strange turn. It begins after Toru is asked to look for his wife’s cat. Shortly thereafter, Toru’s wife goes missing too in which Toru is thrown into a netherworld in order to find her, the truth about himself, his marriage, and the complexities of human connection and identity. Toru encounters a facade of interesting people, including a psychic prostitute who is trying to help him find his wife, his wife’s rancorous brother with a political agenda, a WWII veteran who has stories of torture that will make your skin crawl, as well as a pleasant, yet strangely morbid teenage girl.
The book explores some deep themes on loneliness, loss, hitting rock bottom (in this case, figuratively and literally) as well as trauma. Toru spends extensive amounts of time alone after his wife is gone, especially at the bottom of a well. Every single character in this book battles with loneliness and their interactions with Toru help them come to terms with it. Each character also learns more about themselves and how it is that we connect with others in the process. This is a persistent theme across all the books I have read so far by Murakami.
Murakami is so descriptive. There were scenes in this book that absolutely shattered me. Especially the horrific scenes he laid out about WWII. Let’s just say a man gets his skin peeled off, slowly. It was horrific. The story comes full circle as Toru investigates the whereabouts of his missing wife.
“When you’re supposed to go up, find the highest tower and go to the top. When you’re supposed to go down, find the deepest well and go down to the bottom.”
The first half of this book had me on the edge of my seat and had the book remained that riveting, I would have happily have given this book a 5 star rating. Not that the last half was bad, it just slowed down a little bit. So the first half gets 5 stars and the second half gets 3 stars for an overall rating of 4 stars.
This books is a refreshing read for those that may be having a bit of a hard time, for those that know what it is like to hit rock bottom, or for those that know what it means to be lonely, so pretty much all of us.