Craig Werner's Reviews > The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
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's review
Jun 06, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: asian-lit, contemporary-fiction
Read from January 13, 2016 to January 03, 2017

I've now read two Murakami novels and, as when I finished Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, I'm mostly wondering what took so long. Simply a great novel, recognizably the work of the same novelist who wrote Wonderland, but also unique and mesmerizing in its own way. The easy description of Murakami's work is "dream-like" and that's accurate enough--the transitions and textures resist everyday reality. But the term also feels a bit simplistic. Rather, Murakami explores the intricacies of consciousness, the ways in which we build our sense of ourselves (plural intentional) out of conventional biographical experience, our political contexts, the histories that shape us, the consciousnesses of those around us, pop culture, and something fundamentally elusive. A quote that touches on what I'm writing towards: "I needed time to get used to my new self. What kind of a being was this self of mine? How did it function? What did it feel--and how? I had to grasp each of these things through experience, to memorize and stockpile them. Do you see what I am saying? Virtually everything inside me was almost entirely empty. I had to fill in that blank, little by little. One by one, with my own hands, I had to make this thing I called 'I'--or, rather, make the things that constituted me."

Another way to describe The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is to connect it with what Ralph Ellison called the "jazz impulse," the continual process of reimagining the self as an individual, a member of a community (or multiple communities) and a link the chain of tradition.

I think I'll turn to some of Murakami's earlier novels before tackling 1Q84. Any suggestions, welcome.
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Reading Progress

01/13 marked as: currently-reading
06/07 marked as: hibernating
12/28 marked as: currently-reading
01/03 marked as: read

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