I recognize that is a work of great literary merit, but here's the thing - I rely on my audiobooks to keep me awake and entertained on my commute or when I'm walking the dog in the wee hours of the morning. So in retrospect, maybe downloading such a character-driven book was setting myself up for failure, but I just couldn't finish the blankedy-blank thing. I found myself so frustrated with the main character and all of his "Bartleby the Scrivener"-type ways. I also found myself wanting to punch him in the face for the amount of time he spent wondering if his wife were on her period. I hate to leave books unfinished and tried to stick it out. But in the end, the thought of continuing on with this one just made me start avoiding my iPod, so I had to call it quits.
I'd have to agree with other reviewers who noted that the narrator's female voices are creeptastic. But honestly, so are most of the female characters in this book, so it's kind of a wash.
I guess I'd recommend thinking really carefully about what you want out of an audiobook before downloading this one. No question that it's wonderfully written, and (for the most part) well narrated, but it just wasn't what I wanted to be listening to.
This is an "off beat commentary" of a young japanese man who has a rich inner life. It is fantastical but it captures the mundane thoughts we all have much of the time. It is brilliant in presenting metaphors in different forms and in weaving the occult with the real. I read the entire first section and part of the second before becoming tired of the story. There is really no story - just the ongoing commentary of the lived life of the main character. I will pick the book up later, to read more, as the mood strikes.
The story might be compared with a David Lynch movie. A household cat vanishes and as the protagonist sets out to find it, the normalcy of his life dissipates into a compelling, dreamlike narrative.
The one big minus for me, is the reader doing female voices.
While it is amazing that a guy can present a repertoire of female characters. In the end, its still a guy doing a variation of a high pitched, emotional voice and -for me- it still sounds goofy and distracting.
For a guy to do a female voice he pretty much has to make it somewhat of a stereotype. For example, a high pitched teenage girl voice. These stereotypical depictions detract from the characters' complexity and makes them sound like the cartoon network.
I would prefer for the production did not exert the effort to make feminine voices and let the content of their words carry the book forward.
I would still recommend this audiobook and -from reading the comments- I realize that my opinion about the narration is not universal.
To start, the performance is absolutely excellent, but the voice the narrator gave to some of the minor characters was grating and unpleasant to listen to. Compared to the whole of the 26 hour duration, these bouts of audial discomfort were few and far between.
The story itself is engaging but very choppy--a first-person narration where the protagonist often listens to others talk about their lives in the first-person for entire chapters on end. Nothing progresses linearly. The core narrator will revert into flash-backs, and the tales he hears from others are often broken into nonsequential parts. Additionally, characters who seem important will often fall away from the story without warning. All of these reasons are why I gave the story a 4 instead of a 5.
With all that said, however, I would still give the overall piece as it is a 5 out of 5 stars. Often the plot will meander from the protagonist's life to focus on the back stories of relatively minor characters, but it is never uninteresting. Even the smallest of characters seems to have something significant worth sharing. It will sometimes make the main plot feel slow, but to borrow an analogy, the experience is more akin to taking the scenic route than getting stuck in traffic waiting for something to happen.
This is the first piece I have ever "read" by the author, and I fully intend to pick up more of his work.
This book will invade your brain and stay there. It's one of the strangest books I have read and definitely one of the strangest I've listened to.
Murakami is amazing, but if this is your first book of his to read, I would not recommend it. It's dense, meandering and surreal. Other books such as "Kafka on the Shore" and "Dance, Dance, Dance" are good starting points.
The audio I found to be ok. I felt the performer spoke too slow and I had to increase the speed. If one speaks too slowly when discussing dreams, it's bound to put someone to sleep. After I increased the speed on the audio, the book worked for me.
I've been listening to audio books of novels I'd previously read for a while now, and up next on my list was one of my favourite Murakami pieces. When I read this novel it was an immediate stand out, and it is so finely crafted and beautifully told. The story is full of wonder and intrigue, with just a little darkness and science fiction.
Unfortunately this audio book version is a huge let down. The performance by the narrator is actually pretty good until you get to the female characters. His female voices are so annoying to listen to and so over the top and thoroughly dumb sounding. This is especially bad when the characters are incredibly strong.
I usually give narrators a good chance to sell their interpretation to me, but after a few hours I just couldn't take it any more and unfortunately had to give up this listening. As I said; terribly disappointed.
What a shame it's not the same narrator as for Kafka on the Shore or even Hardboiled Wonderland and The End of the World.
I've listened to over 70 audio books in the past few years and this is the only the second one I completely gave up on and only the first that was due to the narrator.
I never write reviews but after listening to this for over 40 hours I can't help but to write one in fear that someone else would waist their token on this. Don't! It is so boring you just want it to end. Have to give credit to the narrator though. He did a wonderful job, could manage multiple voices well and even stayed awake. The only memories I will take away from this book is the horrible skinning a man alive scene and I wish it would go away!!!
There is very little plot here. There are a lot of pathetic, low-life characters who spend the book brooding. It will depress you.
This book is haunting and touching. Poetic and harsh. Relatable and surreal. Completely unpredictable. Different from any other book I've read.
Missing cat, over boiled spaghetti, wife who disappears, skinning a man alive… humm… you have The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki-Murakami. This is the third book I have read by Murakami. While there are some issues related to the translation of his work into English, let’s face it, he has a very unique style. For many, the seemingly disconnected independent stories, which are all tied together by the lead character, make for a very confusing story. The reader is uncertain about which is parts are dreams, which parts are where the lead character is lost in his thoughts (is it real or is it Memorex? I mean, let your mind create your own stories). This is not a linear story, though I do think it the book has some major themes which are repeated often and leave the reader with some level of “learning” or at least message on the meaning of his life. In the book, the main character, Toru Okada, an unemployed married passive man is led on a series of unexplained experiences, some real, some dreamed, some hoped for, leaving the reader creating his/her own context for the meaning of the book. This makes your read different than mine and leaves lots of room for exploration and venturing into quite a story. One of the most impactful parts of the work for me occurs when Lieutenant Mamiya and his partners in the map planning business are confronted by members of the Russian military. The Lieutenant shares his story with Toru when he is delivering a gift left by the dead palm reader who leaves Toru a present. The present, in many respects, is for Toru to hear the horror of Mamiya who is tortured, much like Toru (but in a physical way, not in an emotional / spiritual way), when he witnesses the brutal “skinning” of his colleague and then is held captive by the Russian military. He eventually is let go years later but when he attempts to kill his captive he is unsuccessful and then he receives a curse to be lonely the rest of his life. Through each of the characters