Monday, September 30, 2013

Lots of Wind Up, not so much pitch

Now that I’m not ruminating on Breaking Bad, I can discuss something else.

SO. September book: The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. My tl;dr is: Not a fan overall.

The protagonist, Toru, is an interesting character. He is not what one would expect out of a stereotypical Japanese business man. To even American standards he’d be considered a slacker, by Japanese he’s downright sinfully slothful. He quits a well paying job at a law firm that offered him a good career track for… nothing? Ennui?

It starts off as an interesting examination of a man bucking societal expectations and the fallout in his life and marriage as a result of that. Had it remained about this, I probably would have enjoyed it much more. As it stands, I liked Book 1 the most and Book 3 the least. I think the book largely suffered for trying to mix the mundane with the magical. Some authors manage to do this successfully, but here it oftentimes felt like two entirely different books had been sliced together. It didn’t always flow or make sense *within the narrative* and the abrupt pacing changes were jarring.

I found it to be an easy read overall, as in I was able to read it very quickly, and it did have a lot of the lyrical prose that Murakami is known for. It does a lot to explore and examine the history behind Japan’s involvement in WW2 and all that happened well before Pearl Harbor.

The book throws a lot of questions, side plots, and nonsensical elements at you along with enough red herrings to fill an entire boat. The point of this seems to be the subvert the expectations and conventions of western detective stories and instill a sense of wonder and whimsy in readers. The lines between fantasy and reality are blurred and reason and logic do not apply to this story, much as they often don’t apply in real life.

He is mostly successful in a storytelling sense, but whether or not that makes it a welcome literary contribution is up for debate. It at times seems to defy order for the sake of it and the lack of cohesion and closure feels less like an artistic choice and more like he fell asleep at the typewriter and picked the plot back up 10 pages later.


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