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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This will become your favourite Murakami novel
If you have just bought "After Dark," I wish you bon appetit. When you are finished the newest Murakami sensation, however, you must go back to this earlier, even more incredible work. All the haunting tropes of any good Murakami story are there (cooking, old jazz, cats, earlobes, cooking, missing people, detached sex and good coffee), but in their most distilled,...
Published on June 11 2007 by A. Beyde

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Weird events - fine. No reason for them - not fine.
I should start by saying that I usually like bizarre fiction. Well, "Wind-up Bird Chronicle" is certainly that. A "regular Joe" for the main character, surrounded by the weird and inexplicable - psychic sisters named after islands, a healer and her mute son (named after spices), a well with no water in it, and an alternative reality set in a...
Published on April 7 2004 by S. Becker


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Weird events - fine. No reason for them - not fine., April 7 2004
By 
S. Becker "sminismoni" (Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel (Paperback)
I should start by saying that I usually like bizarre fiction. Well, "Wind-up Bird Chronicle" is certainly that. A "regular Joe" for the main character, surrounded by the weird and inexplicable - psychic sisters named after islands, a healer and her mute son (named after spices), a well with no water in it, and an alternative reality set in a hotel.
The beginning of the book sucks you in, written in a crisp, modern style, with no high-brow literary waffle. Very quickly you realise that something strange is happening to our "normal" protagonist, Toru Okada. The events don't seem to be connected in any way, but they are portrayed as clues, and you are batting for Toru to figure them out. The random, bizarre happenings make you excited, curious, desperate to read on.
So then you read on. And on. More strange characters and events get introduced. There are large forays into the Japanese occupation of Manchuria before WWII and gruesome stories of violence there. But still, you think (or rather hope, by now) that this will all be explained. Somehow. But alas, it isn't. And you begin to suspect that many of the things you thought were significant "clues", were actually just there to increase the "weird and quirky" factor.
At the end, several important people and occurances had just disappeared out of the novel (Malto and Creta Kano?), or were left hanging without explanation or resolve. I don't want the meaning of everything spelled out to me, I'm happy to use my imagination to figure some things out. But this book didn't even leave me with a skeleton on which to build my thoughts at the end. Only one of the themes (good vs. evil - how original) was resolved to my satisfaction.
Read Murakami's book for an introduction to his style, read it if the words "Japanese" and "bizarre" in combination sound good. But don't expect to finish it feeling contented.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This will become your favourite Murakami novel, June 11 2007
This review is from: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel (Paperback)
If you have just bought "After Dark," I wish you bon appetit. When you are finished the newest Murakami sensation, however, you must go back to this earlier, even more incredible work. All the haunting tropes of any good Murakami story are there (cooking, old jazz, cats, earlobes, cooking, missing people, detached sex and good coffee), but in their most distilled, brilliantly rendered form. The world of the Wind-Up Bird is haunting, confusing, dreamlike and wry. It is a rip-roaringly quiet story that meanders towards the end, but keeps you turning pages nontheless. There is a prolonged torture scene that may or may not take place at the bottom of a well, or is it the plains of Mongolia? An intriguing woman who may or may not be someone's missing wife keeps calling to have phone sex. A tornado occurs. You learn something about the fall of the Roman empire. You are often unsure where you are or why things are happening, but you keep turning pages because Murakami has cast such a spell on you and his strange world is as compelling as any soap opera. A fantastic read, in all senses of the word.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wind-Up Bird has no spring, Oct. 12 2006
By 
Eric Pearce "epearce" (KC, MO USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel (Paperback)
Do you read for pain or pleasure, entertainment or enlightenment, to pass the time or punish yourself? I have enjoyed everything else I have read by Haruki Murakami, but reading THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE was a chore. I kept waiting for it to gain momentum, but it never did. There are portions of the book that are engaging, but mostly it crawls along covering the mundane minute-to-minute happenings of the narrator and protagonist. How many people fill their journals with what they have for lunch? Some of the most memorable parts of the book are the narrator's buying packages of tofu and fresh vegetables or of his book reading. He also seems to be quite fond of beer and fish.

The characters are superficially interesting. Malta Cano is a spiritual counselor of sorts who wears a red vinyl hat. Her sister, Creta, is a sexual counselor. A man gets his skin masterfully peeled off during a tortuous interview. There is another man who doesn't talk and just doesn't want to. Yet another man is a powerful politician and economist who is also an incubus. Doesn't that sound fascinating? You might think so but there is very little magic in the book. The one character that elicits sustained interest is the unkempt "chubby little frog with a bald head," the creepy assistant of the incubus, the narrator's brother in-law.

To make a short story long, I found the book a grind to read and am stunned that I cannot find a single neutral review, much less another negative one. Every other review I've read of this book lauds it as a clasic of modern fiction, a "Kafkaesque tour de force," and other such academic blather.

I have had to force myself through many books in my life for the sake of academics and usually found some reward in doing so. Don't bother waiting for the reward in reading "WIND-UP BIRD." The reader ends up like Sisyphus: rolling one's interest to the top of each chapter only to find yourself again at the bottom.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Help!, March 24 2004
This review is from: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel (Paperback)
I really liked the book but it's so frustrating with all the loose ends. It's like a David Lynch movie, and I feel like I wasn't equipped with the proper skills to thoroughly interpet the symbolism and meaning of the book. Someone perfectly summed up all the dissatisfing points that I would like more clarification on:
"Despite the fact that I enjoyed reading this novel very much and think very highly of it, I do feel somewhat unsatisfied with a number of plot elements in the intertwining stories that I think were not properly explained.
1.) Regarding the nature of Noboru Wataya's dark power, which Kumiko and her sister were also tangled up with: It seems to me Noboru Wataya is a sort of black magician who has learned to harness this innate ability, and yet it is hinted at that the entire Wataya bloodline is somehow affected by this evil power. This evil entity is central to the plotline (It was in some way responsible for Kumiko's horrifying streak of extramarital [affairs] which in turn triggered her disappearance), yet the phenomenon surrounding it is kept extremely vague. This mysterious something was almost certainly behind Noboru Wataya's defilement of both Kumiko's sister and Creta Kano, but as for the purpose for these defilements we are kept in the dark. When Toru finally does battle with this evil entity, it still is kept extremely vague and we never get to see it. I found myself wishing Toru would ignore Kumiko's requests and turn the flashlight on it, just for curiosity's sake.
2.) Regarding the story of the young boy who I assume is Cinnamon who hears the wind up bird and then proceeds to witness two shady looking characters burying a certain something on his property. Judging from his descriptions of these two shady characters - one tall and one short - I can only guess that they are indeed Noboru Wataya and Ushikawa. In the dream sequence the boy experiences after watching the real life events, the buried object is a human heart, which leads me to question #3...
3.) Regarding Nutmeg's Husband and Cinnamon's Father, who died in a certain hotel room under very bizarre circumstances. Nutmeg confirms that the assailants removed several of his organs and smeared his blood on the walls, etc. Again, I can only guess that Noboru Wataya, Ushikawa, and the evil being are involved here too. But there is never an explanation as to the connection between Cinnamon's father having his heart removed in a type of ritual killing, and Cinnamon Witnessing two men burying something which in the dream state is revealed to be a live beating human heart, shortly afterwards resulting in the loss of Cinnamon's voice.
4.) Regarding the dark hotel. I find myself wishing this place was explained a bit more. Who is the No Face man, or the "hollow man" as he refers to himself, and why does he decide to ally himself with Toru? Who is the whistling waiter? What is the significance of room 208? The dark hotel is obviously the domain of the dark entity with which Noboru Wataya is aligned. I can speculate that this is some type of spiritual prison maintained for Kumiko by Noboru Wataya, but I find myself wishing that the reason for this place's existence were more clearly defined. "
Does anyone have insight into these points? I would really like to read someone's in depth analysis of this book because I'm curious and frusterated as hell!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wild, gripping, a twist in the space we call the mind..., Aug. 19 2000
By 
R. Peterson "I'm worldwide..." (Leverett, MA (for the moment)) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel (Paperback)
When I was 12, Madeleine L'Engle's fantasy, "A Wrinkle in Time," effected me in a way no other book did - bridging the gap between childhood stories and grown-up novels. Like "A Wrinkle in Time" the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a fantastic tale in which a certain amount of the story occurs in places that are not of this world. We are given to suspect that some of these places might be in the protagonist's mind, or, they might not be. Set in Tokyo, this is the story of a young married man named Toru Okada whose cat and wife both disappear (under different circumstances). The reader follows Toru as he searches for them both (as well as his search for "self"), and in the process encounters oddly "re"named mystics, an endearing if somewhat depressed teenage neighbor girl, an old war veteran with horrible memories from Japan's engagements in Manchuria, and a megalomaniacal brother-in-law (by far the scariest character in anything I've read in a long time). The tale gripped me and was a great read. Murakami does fantastic things with both the physical and psychological details and has a way of drawing in the reader to feel (s)he is in Toru's head.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars spaghetti and water flow?, March 24 2004
This review is from: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel (Paperback)
from a short story, this novel started out with the same character making spaghetti as the phone rang - which lead him into a search for a cat and ultimately, a resolution of the world's symbolic water flow. murakami attempts to resolve many issues in this novel - including life in a well, solving the symbolic waterflow problem, ridding of his brother-in-law - which bears the same name as his cat . . . i am re-reading it the third time.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A dream-like adventure celebrating risk, Sept. 3 2013
This review is from: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel (Paperback)
Having no idea about the book or the author when it was recommended to me, I forever since have feared phone calls when cooking pasta. And from this first scene in the book, I had a sense things would never be the same. Murakami's "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" bends but never breaks the concept of reality, and is a true celebration of imagination and risk-taking in fiction. Deftly aided by Jay Rubin's English translation from the original Japanese, I recommend this book to any lover of the genre. By creating a main character that is 'no one special,' Murakami allows the other more eccentric characters a chance to shine. Drop whatever you're doing and dive head-long into "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle."
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4.0 out of 5 stars Right on., March 24 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Great book, lovingly used and getting some more love now! Arrived quickly with no problems at all. Very nice indeed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Stories Within Stories, Nov. 14 2012
By 
Daffy Bibliophile (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel (Paperback)
A young man and his wife live in suburban Tokyo and one day his wife leaves for work and never comes home. On the surface, this novel is about the man trying to find out where his wife went and to win her back. But there are numerous subtexts which are introduced by new characters who seem to pop up almost out of nowhere and present their own stories for the reader to lose himself in. Stories within stories. The borders between this reality and other realities blur and tales of other times and other places cross those borders as stories; the life stories of the characters the young man from suburban Tokyo meets as he searches for his wife and himself. Confused? Perhaps the best thing to do is to sit in the darkness at the bottom of a dry well and think it all over...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars drama with spaghetti, April 15 2004
By 
G. B. Talovich (Wulai, Taiwan, ROC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel (Paperback)
Other reviewers have summarized the plot very well, so I will leave that out, and keep my comments short. This book reads like a No drama: full of ritualized, stylized drama hidden behind masks. In the end, you never really get inside the characters' lives; a successful novel draws you in, whether you want in or not. Partly, this is characteristic of Japan, circles within circles, barriers within barriers, but partly, I think the author is striving too hard for effect.
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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki Murakami (Paperback - Sept. 1 1998)
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