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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami


I always find it hard to tell the difference between magic realism and fantasy. If they're both the same or if one is under the umbrella term or not. Stuff like that. Sometimes, I feel that magic realism is used to classify random weird things happening in literature. Like that time Gabriel Garcia Marquez had to ride a boat inside his home because it started raining inside his home. (But I actually believe that rowing a boat inside a house is plausible. I mean, Marquez was born quite well-off, wasn't he?) Sometimes though, I feel that magic realism is used just so that one would sound lit-smart. And maybe, if I would ask them to define it, they'd go "It's when things that don't normally happen, happen inside this setting wherein people perceive it as normal." And I'd go, "But isn't fantasy like that too? Sometimes people don't question the 'abnormality' of it." And then they'd go, "Blah, blah, blah, yakitiyak." And then they'd look at me with I-can't-believe-you-don't-get-it eyes. And then I'd look at them with I'm-pretending-I'm-not-thinking-that-you're-pathetic eyes.

And then both of us would go home and search magic realism in wikipedia.

Anyhow, I believe that The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle falls under magic realism. Just as long as you didn't grow up watching anime, playing family computer, or watching Takeshi's Castle and other "weird" Japanese game shows. But if you did, you'd probably think this is as normal as pooping.

In all honesty, I was hesitant to do a review on this book because in all honesty, I am the opposite of the compulsive liar---I feel the need to be totally honest and I end up oversharing. I was hesitant to do a review on this book because I know I have to tell you, my imaginary audience, that his writing reminds me of---get ready for this---my writing.

Don't scoff.

No, I'm not saying I'm great and all. Or my short stories (the former ones anyway) are well-written, cohesive, profound, poetic, or whatever. No. That's actually it. My (former) short stories weren't all that. That's the problem. Some of them had illogical images inserted in every scene just so that the story would say that This Is A Metaphor. And some scenes had characters popping out of nowhere, because aside from these sudden characters being a metaphor, the main character needs to vent out, other substories are needed to be told (for more This Is Interesting points), and somewhere along the way, there's that implication of the usual being alone and alienation.

I'm sorry if I'm saying all of this as if these are bad things (maybe they are, maybe not, depends which intellectual you're talking to, haha). I'm just tired of being sad, or other things being sad, that's all. Not that I'm looking for happy-gooey escapism either. It's just that I was disappointed with the main guy being blah-type sad (the kind of sadness that doesn't really scream sadness but you can see that he's awfully sad anyway). I really do believe that Toru Okada, the main guy in this novel, is to blame for his being lonely. And for his disintegrating marriage. And for other "weird" stuff happening to him.

I didn't really dislike him in the beginning though. Just in the last parts of the novel. I thought that the marriage angle was going good until his wife started blaming herself for everything (which she really shouldn't, I'm all for eternal love but her husband was mistaking disinterest with complacency and trust---which by the way, the novel tried to cover up by saying he wanted to have sex with teh wife and teh wife was the one who declined because of *insert obvious spoiler here* but not looking for the missing cat in the first place was a warning sign right there and then). Plus it just got knight-in-shining-armor-y---I'm going to save my wife! And she wants to be saved! Then everything felt like a metaphor. And then the novel's supposed to be important because of the Japanese history it contained. And then I felt guilty for not being interested in the history part, aside from the torture one soldier had to go through. And then I felt more guilty because I was entranced with violence. And then I justified myself by saying that's one of the things the novel wants to showcase anyway---what actual individuals had to go through under such environment.

But amidst all of this, would I read Murakami again (you know, for pleasure and not for parading pretend-coolness)? Um, maybe. I would try to read the one with the lesbians or the one that's supposedly popular with teenagers. Because I like lesbians. And teenagers. Um, not in the creepy way.

Also, reading how sort of a half-fairy tale, and half-knight in shining armor, this novel got, it'd be interesting to know how he handles lesbian and teenage characters in other books.

He handles characters in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle pretty much okay. Only sometimes I feel as if everyone's talking the same way. Except the teenage character.

And that guy who totally doesn't talk.

But it's interesting enough. Enough that I had to babble in this review because I still can't figure if I like it or not. It's interesting, and has some strong images, but then I wasn't totally giddy to write a review on it.

Best read if there's a storm though. With the no electricity style. I remember being freaked out then. That must be something, I guess.


p.s.
No, I'm not sure what the Wind-Up Bird stood for. If you do, please leave a comment. (Or I should just probably head to Wikipedia, haha)


6/10

5 comments :

I agree, Claire. Wieldy at may pagka-random ang Wind-Up Bird.

Kung babasahin mo ulit si Murakami, try mo ung Hard-Boiled Wonderland. Mas consistent at mas funny.

:-)

Claire said...

Sige sige. Salamat! ^^

dumating sa puntong paulit ulit na lang yung nangyayari sa protagonist, naasar ako!

Andrei said...

i had the same feeling when i first read murakami. the feeling aggravated when i read my second.

he remains to be a favorite author of mine. i really want to buy this book, because it is long enough to savor the 400 something pesos worth of the vintage edition.

try dance, dance, dance.

and tony takitani.

emily said...

norwegian wood. my favorite book by murakami.

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