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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
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秋 (autumn): The Wind-Up Bird > Book 1: The Thieving Magpie

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Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3319 comments The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami opens with the narrator Toru Okada at home. cooking pasta, and listening to a Rossini opera when the phone rings...

Kathryn | 10 comments I'm in the first few pages and I'm engaged already. I love the humour.

Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3319 comments I'm beginning it today!

Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3319 comments At the beginning, a lot of mundane stuff is happening between married Toru and Kumiko and between them and some clairvoyants. And, a lot of their personal and family history is told. You get a sense of where they come from and presently are. The disappearance of the cat Noboru Wataya takes Toru to a long-vacant house and introduces him to a slightly lame sixteen-year-old. Right now at the end of One.9 some curiosity arises due to an unknown keepsake which an old fortune-teller leaves Toru.

Kathryn | 10 comments I have to admit I am letting the story take me where it needs to but I don't really 'get' how it all fits together yet. What did Mr. Honda leave Toru? or more importantly, "Why"? ...and what is the significance of the light in the well....and the limited time of the light. Where is Kumiko?...and how does this all fit together? or does it? On to Book Two and the Old Tea Seller just arrived in the mail!!!

Kathryn | 10 comments Actually, I think that Kumiko voiced something to Toru explaining that he doesn't really 'see' her. After 6 years of marriage he seems to coast in life and not really give any thought to how Kumiko likes her food. She doesn't like beef with green peppers, for example. He didn't know that. Could it be that the fortune tellers keepsake is a symbol of Toru's life? And that the small fraction of light in the well is simply another symbol of the amount or darkness Toru is in? Is his ability to see the light so limited? The lame sixteen year old seems to have more insight in her questions than Toru has in his answers. How can a 16 year old girl give an older man so much enlightenment? Seems to me that Toru is kind of "empty"?

Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3319 comments I'm going to read Part One of The Old Tea Seller then continue Wind-Up Bird, a mystery which raises many questions! I'll be back shortly. Kathryn, will I 'see' you at Baisaō?

Kathryn | 10 comments Yes, you will see me at Baisao but I want to finish with Mr. Wind-Up Bird first.

Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3319 comments Kathryn wrote: " ...Could it be that the fortune teller's keepsake is a symbol of Toru's life? And that the small fraction of light in the well is simply another symbol of the amount or darkness Toru is in... Seems to me that Toru is kind of "empty"..."

Book I begins with a safe, secure, unproblematic existence. The six-year-married couple is even renting a nice house from an uncle. Minor, not-too-unsettling mysteries are the missing cat, the vacant house, and the obnoxious telephone caller.

The ordinariness is strained when diviners and psychics enter the scene; they talk and act as if they live in a far-out world and their unconventional behavior poses riddles for Toru. Thus, Kumiko and Toru's cocoon-like environment takes a pause, coming to an end with their remote acquaintance Mr Honda, who dies an even more remote death, surprisingly announced by Lieutenant Mamiya. What Mamiya reveals about himself and his friend Honda is a paradoxically horrible-miraculous tale which occurred during the tense Mongolian-Japanese-Soviet conflict in 1937 onward. This knowledge and the surprisingly empty keepsake muddies the waters of Toru's nonchalance.

Kathryn, the well appears in the experience of Mamiya, and of Toru (though I just finished Mamiya). The brief, life-giving sunlight into the bottom of the dark well in the Outer Mongolian desert does want a deeper explanation than the story's 'the perpendicular placement of the sun to the earth'. Anyway, Honda's special knowledge isn't logically explainable.

I like your point about Honda's keepsake, an empty box without the Cutty Sark. Toru finds another empty box, Kumiko's. Out of the blue she is using a new fragrance but is being inattentive to him. You suggest that the empty box is metaphorical for Toru's purposelessness and dispassion in life and for his troubled marriage. The metaphor makes a lot of sense.

message 10: by Beth Asmaa (last edited Dec 02, 2013 11:43PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3319 comments What can be the significance(s) of Book 1's title "The Thieving Magpie" to the story's characters/events?

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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (other topics)

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Haruki Murakami (other topics)