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Old 18th Jan 2006, 21:45   #21
kumquat
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Default The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.

An absolute winner. Murakami is such a filling, meaty kind of read.

It's a difficult one to categorise as it has a number of threads running through. There are quite large chunks for Japanese military history which make fascinating reading. There is the usual parade of quirky and enthralling characters (psychic healers, problem teenager, deceptive and threatening in laws, women who can enter your dreams to sleep with you) and an element of dark spookiness that gives it real edge. Some of it does not make for pleasant reading at all; torture, disturbing sex, manipulative mind games etc. It really is a thriller in many ways, stuffed full of intrigue and tension. The plots and characters are complex but the effect is refreshing and intelligent. A really clever book and one I can heartily recommend.
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Old 18th Jan 2006, 22:01   #22
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Default Re: Murakami

kumquat, just merged your starter thread with the other Chronicle/Murakami thread...
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Old 18th Jan 2006, 22:04   #23
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Default Re: Murakami

ta
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Old 20th Jan 2006, 9:17   #24
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Default Re: The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kumquat
An absolute winner. Murakami is such a filling, meaty kind of read.

It's a difficult one to categorise as it has a number of threads running through. There are quite large chunks for Japanese military history which make fascinating reading. There is the usual parade of quirky and enthralling characters (psychic healers, problem teenager, deceptive and threatening in laws, women who can enter your dreams to sleep with you) and an element of dark spookiness that gives it real edge. Some of it does not make for pleasant reading at all; torture, disturbing sex, manipulative mind games etc. It really is a thriller in many ways, stuffed full of intrigue and tension. The plots and characters are complex but the effect is refreshing and intelligent. A really clever book and one I can heartily recommend.
Yum! going to make this one my next read I think. Additional motivation comes in the form of it belonging to someone else, so I ought to read it sooner rather than later.
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Old 20th Jan 2006, 11:35   #25
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Default Re: Murakami

Quote:

Avoid Kafka On The Shore if you have never read him before though. Bad one to start with.

Hope that helps.
I really wish I could have read this before I read Kafka on the Shore.
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Old 20th Jan 2006, 11:51   #26
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Default Re: Murakami

In the middle of A Wild Sheep Chase at the moment, and loving it. It won't last much longer, a very speedy read...as a Murakami virgin I would suggest this to others coming to him for the first time.
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Old 28th Jan 2006, 13:53   #27
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Default Re: Murakami

Let's see then.

A Wild Sheep Chase, as gil points out, is about - well - a chase for a particular sheep (one, specific, sheep) which gets kind of wild. I won't go into why the sheep is being sought out, but it's logically implausible, or plausibly illogical, depending on which page you're on and it's only really when you get into the last forty pages, following a lengthy - for this book - hiatus describing a quiet mountain retreat, that you start to think "hang on, now just a sec", and he loosens his grip on you enough that you start to falter.

A shame, because up until then it's so chocka with ideas and witticisms that you're happily pulled along, gleefully unconcerned that this is so wonderfully pointless. For that, it loses a star and is just (sic) a read.

I'd echo JS's comment about it being cold or 'other', though. Why this is I don't know, but I can't think that Murakami's determination to name none of the characters helps in any way; it tends to place them an extra remove from you.

That's a minor point: lots of super comic passages, a couple of laugh-out-loud moments and a brilliantly wacky set-up; read it.
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Old 28th Jan 2006, 16:50   #28
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Default A Wild Sheep Chase

I read this last summer and wrote the following in August. In the interest of discussion, I post it. Looking at this now, I think I was very harsh, because my overall impression of Murakami was so positive that I have just gotten Wind-Up Bird Chronicle from the library:



I finished reading A Wild Sheep Chase yesterday and was left with such a sense of incompleteness. Thinking about it, the novel fell short in a couple of important ways. First, the main character was so passive and anonymous that I felt less and less invested in his outcome as the book progressed. Rather than becoming involved in his quest, he seemed not to really care about what happened one way or the other and was only pressed into the quest by his nameless girlfriend, another person who floated through the narrative without an anchor. So, the emotional landscape was flat and airless. His connections with anyone, including the Rat, the partner, and J were inexplicably without content or story.

MOUSEOVER FOR SPOILER HERE:

And then there is the denouement, which similarly was uneventful, unexplained, and a bit of a cheat. I don't need to be spoonfed plot, but it seems to me that the whole ghost-character ending, with primarly people disappearing and the protagonist not really caring about anything was a nonstory. It's so convenient for an author to walk out on the story, which feels like what happened here.

In Wild Sheep Chase Murakami neglects to do the two most difficult tasks of writing a novel: building characters that are worth the reader's investment and tying up a plot satisfactorily, with a narrative arc that leads the reader to at least a brief moment of recognition, if not a feeling of closure.

You could argue, of course, that these ideas about what a novel should be are too conventional and conservative. I just happen to like novels that pull these two difficult tasks off, and Wild Sheep Chase just doesn't do either.

Murakami has a gift for the odd detail, and his philosophical ruminations are pretty interesting, almost enough to carry the book. I don't mind not having answers to all the open questions left at the end of the story, but, to me, it seems like he missed an opportunity to drop a few pieces into the right places. I think not doing that is almost cowardly: better to be cryptic and inexplicable than to elucidate something that in the end risks sounding pedestrian. If every fiction author thought this way, I might have to give up reading fiction altogether.


Still, I'm tempted to try Wind-up Bird Chronicle anyway. His writing style is intriguing, and maybe the failed aspects of WSC are unique to this book.
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Old 28th Jan 2006, 22:15   #29
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Default Re: Murakami

Wild Sheep Chase was my first Murakami and I liked the detached nature of the narrator. In fact the whole story has stayed with me years later and this is my primary criterium for judging a novel. Norwegian wood is on my TBR pile but I'm not sure if I'll be able to stay with him through many more rounds of 'lone man heats up food in his now empty apartment' - all too accurate and painful, but I did like the idea of the girl with the irresistable ears.
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Old 29th Jan 2006, 12:23   #30
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Default Re: Murakami

From my dim memory of the book, I would agree with your comments on Wild Sheep Chase, knovella. Having said that I too have been persuaded by the general adulation for Murakami (here and elsewhere) to buy The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and will probably try it next.
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