日曜日, 10月 10, 2004

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle

Nejimaki-dori kuronikuruever seen dali's the metamorphosis of narcissus? if you've not heard of the myth of this vain chap who stared at his own reflection in the river for the longest time that he turned into a flower (something like that lah), you may be a tad hard pressed to understand what the painting is all about. i suppose if you try looking at one section of the painting at a time, you'll be entranced and are able to make out things like narcissus himself, hills, an egg for a head, a bunga; then after scanning (as well as enjoying) every inch of the painting, you take a step back and go, "ahh... i get it. err... i think".

that's what i said after finishing haruki murakami's the wind-up bird chronicle.

i do reiterate. i ain't no literary connoisseur. i read books like the average joe. when i do have the time. this murakami tome was recommended by a friend who's really into john irving. i've never read any of irving's work, but i gather his stuff's a little quirky: take his the world according to garp as an example. anyway. i digress. again.

the book chronicles the events in the life of one toru okada over the span of two years and a bit. set in the mid-80's, the story starts off with the loss of his mog (with a bent tail to boot) named after a much-abhorred brother-in-law. we get to see toru's humdrum daily life revolved around househusband chores (status currently unemployed). from page one we are also introduced to several unconnected characters (excluding his wife, kumiko) whose lives later on becomes somewhat intertwined with that of toru's: the friendly limping teenager who works for a firm that makes wigs; an unknown woman who insists to have phone sex with toru while kumiko's away at work; the extremely bizarre kano sisters, one of whom is a psychic prostitute who looks like jackie kennedy; an old retired army lieutenant with one hand; a widowed fashion designer with her mute (and OCD-esque) son.

and there's this thing with wells (as in perigi). and a baseball bat. and wet dreams (complete with post-ejaculation y-front cleaning in the bathroom sink). and more bizarre dreams.

and a bird that goes creeee-eeeakkkk.

i can go on. you'd think david lynch is doing a cinematic interpretation of this book right now in tokyo. or possibly a bizarre anime.

the word surreal just doesn't do justice to explain the events surrounding toru's life. things never seem to get better for him. and when it seems like light is discernible at the end of the proverbial tunnel, something else happens that put him back on square one. the tale is not as despressing as i am portraying it to be. i thoroughly enjoyed this read. one chapter at a time. in little parcels, wind-up bird was compelling, especially with the crazy cast of characters added into the mix. i have never read contemporary japanese literature before, but i gather that murakami's writing is quite westernised: among others, you could see it from the music references to herb alpert and van halen. music seems a recurring theme in murakami's work (like bears in irving's). you'd never have thought that all his works are translated from the japanese. the nuances of the writing would never have made me think that this was originally written in nippon-go (original title: nejimaki-dori kuronikuru).

as for my next dose of murakami, i will start on sputnik sweetheart once i'm done with hornby and err... jenna. i mean, after my exams in november.

try this book. you may just like it.