Sarah Whitney's Reviews > The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
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Sep 11, 10

bookshelves: book-club, fiction, library, 2010
Read from August 26 to September 09, 2010

** spoiler alert ** Ben Harrison's review of this novel sums up my impression quite well. Be forewarned, however: his review is riddled with spoilers and not for the faint of heart ;-)

SURREAL! Imagine a Dali or Tanguy painting as a BOOK! This novel was absolutely unique and like nothing I've read before. A strange and wonderful trip down the rabbit hole. Or, shall I say, down the WELL...

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Quotes/ Passages/ Bits that stood out:


Is it possible, finally, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another?
We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close are we able to come to that person's essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?
page 24 Toru Okada


When the revelation and the grace were lost, my life was lost. Those living things that had once been there inside me, that had been for that reason of some value, were dead now. Not one thing was left. They had all been burned to ashes in that fierce light. The heat emitted by that revelation or grace had seared away the very core of the life that made me the person I was. Surely I had lacked the strength to resist that heat. And so I feel no fear of death. If anything, my physical death would be, for me, a form of salvation. It would liberate me forever from this hopeless prison, this pain of being me.
- Lieutenant Mamiya's letter to Mr. Okada
page 209


All during the long train ride to the little town in Chiba, and all the way back again, though, I felt I had become a different person. Even after I had seen her home and returned to my room, to lie in bed and look at the ceiling, I could sense the change. I was a new me, and I could never go back to where I had been before. What was getting to me was the awareness that I was no longer innocent. This was not a moralistic sense of wrongdoing, or the workings of a guilty conscience. I knew that I had made a terrible mistake, but I was not punishing myself for it. It was a physical fact that i would have to confront coolly and logically, beyond any question of punishment.
page 234 (after Kumiko's abortion)


"As you are well aware," the man continued, his voice soft but penetrating, "in the course of life we experience many kinds of pain. Pains of the body and pains of the heart. I know I have experienced pain in many different forms in my life, and I'm sure you have too. In most cases, though, I'm sure you've found it very difficult to convey the truth of that pain to another person: to explain it in words. People say that only they themselves can understand the pain they are feeling. But is this true? I for one do not believe that it is. If, before our eyes, we see someone who is truly suffering, we do sometimes feel his suffering and pain as our own. This is the power of empathy. Am I making myself clear?"
page 239 (the man in the cafe... who held his left hand over the lit candle)


Once before, when camping on a mountaintop with some friends in the fifth or sixth grade, I had seen stars in such numbers that they filled the sky. It almost seemed as if the sky would break under the weight of all those things and come tumbling down. Never had I seen such an amazing skyful of stars. Unable to sleep after the others had drowsed off, I crawled out of the tent and lay on the ground, looking at the sky. Now and then, a shooting star would trace a bright arc across the heavens. The longer I watched, though, the more nervous it made me. There were simply too many stars, and the sky was too vast and deep. A huge, overpowering foreign object, it surrounded me, enveloped me, and made me feel almost dizzy. Until that moment, I had always thought that the earth on which I stood was a solid object that would last forever. Or rather, I had never thought about such a thing at all. I had simply taken it for granted. But in fact, the earth was nothing but a chunk of rock floating in one little corner of the universe: a temporary foothold in the vast emptiness of space. It - and all of us with it - could be blown away tomorrow by a momentary flash of something or a tiny shift in the universe's energy. Beneath this breathtaking skyful of stars, the uncertainty of my own existence struck me full force (though not in so many words, of course). It was a stunning discovery for a young boy.
pp 248-9


Creta Kano shook her head. "Hatred is like a long, dark shadow. Not even the person it falls upon knows where it comes from, in most cases. It is like a two-edged sword. When you cut the other person, you cut yourself. The more violently you hack at the other person, the more violently you hack at yourself. It can often be fatal. But it is not easy to dispose of. Please be careful, Mr. Okada. It is very dangerous. Once it has taken root in your heart, hatred is the most difficult thing in the world to shake off."
page 312


Then, all at once, he thought of the ocean - the ocean he had seen from the deck of the ship that brought him from Japan to Manchuria. He had never seen the ocean before, nor had he seen it since. That had happened eight years ago. He could still remember the smell of the salt air. The ocean was one of the greatest things he had ever seen in his life - bigger and deeper than anything he had imagined. It changed its color and shape and expression according to time and place and weather. It aroused a deep sadness in his heart, and at the same time it brought his heart peace and comfort. Would he ever see it again? He loosened his grip and let that bat fall to the ground. It made a dry sound as it struck the earth. After the bat left his hands, he felt a slight increase in his nausea.
The wind-up bird wen ton crying, but no one else could hear its call.
page 522 - "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle #8"


Chapter 30's Dream


"After you graduated from college - and after all the trouble with your family - you married me and left the Wataya house. Our life was serene, and with each day that went by, you were able, bit by bit, to forget your dark anxiety. You went out into society, a new person, as you continued gradually to recover. For a while, it looked as though everything was going to work out for you. But unfortunately, it wasn't that simple. At some point you noticed that you were being drawn, unconsciously, toward that dark force that you though you had left behind. And when you realized what was happening, you became confused."
(Toru Okada to the woman in room #208)
pp 579-80
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