©2006 Haruki Murakami; (P)2006 Naxos AudioBooks
This book has an enormous number of episodes, almost all of them trivial and arbitrary, hardly relevant to an extremely dim and unsatisfactory plot. It is rich in detail - too rich for my taste - and includes some interesting Japanese history. If you have a lot of time to spare, and don't mind ridiculous mysticism (taking charge of somebody else's dream, for only one instance) then you might enjoy it. Otherwise, stay away!
Like an earlier reviewer, I also like long, unabridged booktapes. I barely got through this one. If you like exciting, linear, plot-driven narrative, then forget about it. This book was simply strange. It wasn't necesarily bad, just strange. Also, if you have kids you should know that there are graphic descriptions of sexual acts.
This book was just too far "over the top" for me. Maybe it was the translation, maybe it is just the way of the oriental thought pattern; maybe just the Murakami style of fiction. But something was lost. Too "fantastical"; too immaginative; too "unbelievalble". Adventure and the supernatural can be great if done w/ some sense of realtiy, but this one really went a bit far into outerspace. Would have given it a 2star, but some of the sexy scenes, and soft-ball gore were well done (so I gave it an extra star). YMMV.
I just couldn't attach to the characters or the disjointed story line. Someone suggested the translation from Japanese to English may be the problem. Long winded episodes and recollections by some characters left me asking, "Why do we care about this?" In an attempt to create mystery the author instead combines too many bizarre, far fetched and frankly boring elements to get a toe hold on the story, if one was intended. The main character is a completely unsympathetic dolt! I wanted to scream at him, "Get a job and out of this story, you idiot!" Poorly connected plot, wandering dialogue, bizarre and unsympathetic characters ... I only made it through the first of the 3 segments. And I must agree with many other reviewers that the reader's attempt to give voice to the female characters is a disaster. Oh, how I tried to finish, to enjoy and find something worthwhile in this book. It's a rare book indeed that I just won't pursue to the end; add this one to that very short list. Maybe if I was alone on a deserted island I'd try to finish it. No, I think I'd be more engaged sifting sand! Do listen to a sample before you download.
I think this is the first book I've read by a Japanese author. I think there's a definite cultural perspective in this book. Every time I came across something that seemed odd, new or different, I tried holding it up to the light, turning it this way and that, and trying to see it with new eyes. I'm not entirely sure this strategy worked. Perhaps it's the fantastical aspects of the book, instead of the cultural one, because I didn't really enjoy this listen. Not to say that I hated it. It just wasn't my thing. It was an interesting adventure, though, that took me out of my familiar literary groove.
I love literary fiction and I occasionally delve into non-fiction. I love books that are suspenseful and am really into well-told stories.
This book gets so much great attention here, but I was quite perplexed by The Wind-Up Bird. First of all, why was not someone like George Takei summoned to do the voice work? I have heard his voice work before, and he is amazing. All the women in the book except one sounded exactly the same and while I found the narrator's voice and diction to be (mostly) well done, the word "Soviet" is mispronounced every time except twice (why bother to say it correctly twice?) and while the men's voices were done well, why didn't anyone have a Japanese accent? The whole book takes place (with a couple of exceptions) in Japan, both in modern day (the 1980's) and at the end of WWII.
The narrator does a good job with the male voices, but still, just for authenticity, why was a voice actor with a Japanese accent not called to do this book?
And someone said "the sexual content in the book is mild". What? There was one of the most vividly brutal sexual scenes in it I have ever heard and the general brutality in the book is misplaced and overwrought and I really detested that part. I get it: War is brutal and hellish, but my God, the author just went overboard in the gore department during torture or execution segments. Animals are executed, people are executed, people are brutalized in the worst, most deviant and extravagant ways.
Characters drop in and out for no reason and their stories are not followed to the end. Especially with the sisters of Malta and Creta... I loved those characters, but they are absent in the last 2/3rds of the book and other characters who are very interesting are developed and seen through to the end.
I don't see how anyone could "enjoy" this book. I thought parts of it (especially in the first third) were quite well done and was looking forward to more, but then, when the shock value set in, I just have to balk. And nothing is really ever settled in the end. It is a book that will haunt me, and not in a good way.
Say something about yourself!
This is not my cup of tea. I still have an hour to slog through this and I don't see how any of the multiple strings of stories can be tied together. I don't recall having to take this long to get through a book. Most of the characters are not likable, the story line is so disjointed. I have to say, this book is like having a very strange dream and trying to tell someone about it - and the more you tell the less sense it makes - to even you. First and last of Murakami for me. Lesson learned. I will finish just to see if there is any redemption...
Rupert Degas did an unbelievable job giving life to all the different characters, male and female, old and young. I would give him 5 stars definitely. The story itself, I'm not so sure. I frequently did not understand what was going on.
I liked this book but was a bit puzzled by the creation of mystery simply to create a book. Still, the book held my interest and some of the stories in this chronicle are wonderful and memorable.
The reading was excellent.
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