The World's Literature: Korea discussion

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
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秋 (autumn): The Wind-Up Bird > Book 3: The Birdcatcher

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Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3306 comments What happens next is anyone's guess. Spoilers unintended!


message 2: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 281 comments I read this book earlier this year and enjoyed it. Sort of like going for a ride and letting someone else steer. You never know exactly where you're going, but what a ride.


Karen | 1 comments Sue wrote: "I read this book earlier this year and enjoyed it. Sort of like going for a ride and letting someone else steer. You never know exactly where you're going, but what a ride."

I love this description of the book!! That perfectly describes the feeling I had while reading this. I love this book, it's one of my all-time favs.


message 4: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 281 comments This was my first Murakami, certainly not my last. It's amazing how I just wanted to keep on reading no matter what was happening.


Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3306 comments Kafka on the Shore is a favorite of mine. Something unbelievable and weird is always happening in it. So, I'm looking forward to The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I'm thinking that both of them interweave their two subjects, i.e. alternate the chapters.

Our Japanese theme is introducing the group members to some rewarding writing.


message 6: by Sue (last edited Oct 16, 2012 09:29AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 281 comments I haven't been able to read "Kafka" yet but I will.

I've really enjoyed those Japanese books I've read this year. In fact the truly eye-opening and exciting development for me in my reading in 2012 was finding Japanese, Chinese and Indian writing that I really loved. Prior to this, I had never made a connection with any of them in a meaningful way.


Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3306 comments I'm looking forward to another rewarding reading year in 2013. I must say that Japanese literature is prolific.


message 8: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 281 comments I'll keep my eye on where you lead next year, Asma and read what I can. I also keep adding to my ideas for the future.


Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3306 comments I'll have to create a poll for 2013 in November to determine our direction. First, I want to move forward with the autumn readings about Japan, Sue.


message 10: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 281 comments Sounds good.


Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3306 comments Into Bk 3 is an odd chapter 3 "What Happened In the Night", i.e., unconnected with the Toru-Kumiko-May-Nutmeg plot but appropriate for a short story in a magazine. The obvious common thread with the other chapters is the cranking of the world by the unseen Wind-Up Bird up in a tree. The nighttime episode is factually told by a small boy awakened by the bird's noisiness. In attempting to glimpse the bird, he instead witnesses a hard-to-explain scene occurring at the base of the tree.


Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3306 comments Re: the sense of history in this novel with the occupation by the Japanese in Manchuria and the Soviet-Japanese conflict around 1945.

Several characters participated in those events, their participation casting a spell over their later lives as does a curse lend a dismal fate. As I read further along in this novel, it appears that unhappy Lieutenant Mamiya as well as Nutmeg's missing veterinarian father share the experience of Manchuria. It looks like Miyawaki of the haunted house with the dry well was also connected with that occupation. When reading about each of those characters, I never dreamed that Murakami would give them some shared experience.


message 13: by Beth Asmaa (last edited Dec 21, 2013 08:57AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3306 comments My perception of the main character Toru Okada really changed during the novel from beginning to now (two-thirds through). Okada begins somewhat passively (a descriptor found on Wikipedia but which I see). From his casually accepting Kumiko's late-night absences to his randomly walking through Tokyo by way of the changing street lights and to his believing May's promise about her eventually lowering the ladder into the well for him, he seems cool and unconcerned. But later, he becomes adamant about acquiring the "jinxed house" despite his indebtedness to Nutmeg with its unsavory employment. And, he challenges Wataya's proposal to give up involvement in that house in return for Wataya's reuniting him with his wife Kumiko (he refuses Wataya's interference for that). The house and Kumiko are what he cares for most at this point in the story. He's refusing to accept Wataya's plans for him.


Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3306 comments There are certainly mysteries in this novel, i.e., always questions posed in the novel that need patience to know the answer. Oh! to reach the conclusion to find them out in order to complete the puzzle this book is.


Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3306 comments Each character at some point recites his life story, including at least one traumatizing incident. That trend possibly began with the oddly named sisters Malta Kano and Creta Kano. Then, there was Lieut. Mamiya. After getting to know those characters, Murakami then seems to forget them in the plot, overshadowing them with new characters with life stories as with Nutmeg and her son Cinnamon. How will the author tie up all those loose ends?


message 16: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 281 comments It's been a while since I read this and parts of the wild plot are hazy. I will read it again someday to see how it unfolds on a second reading. I received A Wild Sheep Chase as a Christmas gift. I wonder how many of the same objects, themes, etc will turn up in this book?


Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3306 comments Sue wrote: "...I received A Wild Sheep Chase..."

Wind-Up Bird... and ...Sheep Chase--both titles name animals. Cannot further describe them without spoiling the plot. One or more bizarre characters made so by a disturbing event. Mysterious circumstances.


message 18: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 281 comments Fun ahead...I can tell.


Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3306 comments Sue, coincidentally, in reading Book 3 chapter 23 in Wind-up Bird, the story talks about the possibility of "sheep farming and wool processing in Manchukuo" because the soldiers in the field (in the 1930's?) had not warm enough clothing to survive a Russian winter.


message 20: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 281 comments I'd forgotten that detail though I remember parts of the war details.


Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3306 comments Perhaps I'm unnecessarily alarmed by anxiety about Toru in the conclusion. Book 3, chapter 27, says that the creaking of the wind-up bird heralds misfortune for those who hear it, like Toru and the young soldier if not the veterinarian heard the bird. Since Toru began the story in the small, daily flow of things and mild mannered, without even requesting to be given a ladder to climb out of the well, is it possible he escapes the bird's prediction by an act of will or by resignation to it? I think that the fated misfortune is less Toru's danger than his perilous happiness with Kumiko.


message 22: by Beth Asmaa (last edited Mar 24, 2014 08:36PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3306 comments Finally, Toru sits in the pitch-dark well enough times that his concentration, presumably, during sleep allows him to penetrate the metaphorical door in the well's wall to step into a surreal hotel room. Murakami likes these transitions in which the logic of objects does not proceed as expected, and in which a known experience happens as before.

In the alternating settings of chapters, Toru receives the postscript to Mamiya's letter, which goes into gruesome detail about the Lieutenant's Siberian survival at the coal mining camp, in which he re-encounters the villain extraordinaire Boris.


message 23: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 281 comments Interesting to have these moments brought back to me.


Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3306 comments Sue wrote: "Interesting to have these moments brought back to me."

Sue, and some of the events are reminiscent of his later book Kafka on the Shore. I am referring to the late scene in the book where Toru thinks that his malicious living spirit has unconsciously traveled to do harm to his brother-in-law Wataya, like Kafka's cluelessly awakening in a blood-drenched shirt and learning that his father's dead.


message 25: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 281 comments I haven't read Kafka yet but eventually probably will. I have Wild Sheep Chase and at least one other book on hand. He does like to have parallels from what I've heard...the well, the cat, etc.


Beth Asmaa (wildbirdmom) | 3306 comments Sue wrote: "...I have Wild Sheep Chase and at least one other book on hand. He does like to have parallels from what I've heard...the well, the cat, etc."

Finished Wind-up Bird to make about seven of his books read among the many more. Noted his memoir about running What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, but don't plan to read it in this year. As for W-UB, there are many excellent parts, especially the surreal stories and the histories. Some information about this book says that there's connections with the Japanese psyche, but I didn't perceive those psychological traits. Kafka... for me is consistently good with charming characters.


Nikolai Kim (NikolaiKim) | 1 comments I've written short reviews of Murakami's "UnderGround," "Wind Up Bird," "Dance, Dance, Dance," and "After the Quake". They're here on GoodReads somewhere. The more I read, however, the more I realize that the charm of his fantastical characters—particularly the animal hybrids—is a surface beneath which there's a good deal of spookiness. I'm sure that there may be some vague relationship with Shinto animism, but in fact I suspect something else is going on as well. I'd characterize that mysterious quality as "alchemical".


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