Japan's most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II.
In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat.... Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo.
As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid 16-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria.
Gripping, prophetic, suffused with comedy and menace, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a tour de force equal in scope to the masterpieces of Mishima and Pynchon.
©1997 Haruki Murakami (P)2013 Random House Audio
"Dreamlike and compelling.... Murakami is a genius." (Chicago Tribune)
Murakami's wonderfully delicate, mysterious and absorbing novel is terribly marred by the narration here; Degas renders the main character unpleasantly arch and snarky initially and seems to be struggling without success to find the right voice for him throughout; children and teens have voices like obnoxious TV cartoon characters, and both female and children's voices are indicated by a very rapid, jerky, breathy, oddly pitched delivery that's just all wrong and actually jarring. The tone throughout is much too theatrical and feverish for the quiet deeps, wry humor and reflective unfolding of this tale.I loved reading this book - Murakami's stories never seem abstract and 'experimental' in the off-putting way at all and I can never put them down. Other narrators have done Murakami really, really well (1Q84, with multiple readers, is terrific, as is Kafka By the Shore with Sean Barrett and Oliver Le Sueur ). Degas just never gets the mood of the work right, to my mind.
I'm a Murakawa fan; would just add to the many reviews of his work something that's often not mentioned - not only are they deeply beautiful, his novels are really fun to read. I think he's often made out to be less accessible than he is; newcomers should just relax and flow along with the narrative and not be too worried about assembling things - just kick back and enjoy the ride. Even with a poor narrator it's a dandy.
No indeed. I'm really not such a hard critic of audiobook performances and appreciate many readers deeply, but a good reader needs to understand and respect his characters and not deliver caricatures.
I didn't closely follow the outline suggested here (seriously?), but would say that this is a tremendous tale, difficult to put down for those who like Murakami's work, and widely reviewed elsewhere; I only wanted to warn readers that they might be unfairly put off this author by the disappointing performance here.
"... there are times when silence is a poem." - John Fowles, the Magus ^(;,;)^
A weird metaphysical (I KNOW it is a bit redundant to start off ANY review of Murakami by dressing it up in adjectives like weird & metaphysical) novel. I remember wanting to buy this book back in 2007, but I was poor and just about to get married and it seemed like my limited money would be better spent on bread and cheese. Now I own three (four if you count audible), but I still wish I bought it. I still regret NOT buying it. Not necessarily because I wish I had read it earlier. I think I'm reading Wind-Up Bird Chronicle at exactly the right point for me, but just because I would have liked to carry that book with me like some form of lucky talisman during the last 17 years (kinda like what I did with Infinite Jest). And it is more than that ... I actually remember in my brain THE book. Displayed with the bird eye out against a support beam in the bookstore. I regret not buying THAT book.
I've now read about all of Murakami. Well not quite. I still have to read: 1Q84, Sputnik Sweetheart, Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche, Hear the Wind Sing & Pinball, 1973. That's it. After THAT I'm done. Anyway, my point is even after reading 11 or more previous Murakami novels I still exit W-BC a bit uncertain.
I liked it a lot and think it is an important novel and worth the listen/read, but it just seemed a bit too untidy or ambiguous. I KNOW. The novel is built on ambiguity, uncertainty, evil, weird coincidences, funky time, projections, reflections, shadows. My only criticism is that sometimes the shadows seemed to cover the reflections (metaphorically speaking). Sometimes, I read a page and was left with not just a WTF moment, but exhausted from not knowing WHY it twas a WTF moment. Anyway, there still is no escaping that the novel is huge, creepy, cool, and feels like David Lynch should make the movie (complete with midgets and nymphets). For me it was a 21st century novel written in the last decade of the 20th century, reflecting on the evils and history of the past and present Japan.
I've now ventured through more of his books but this remains my favorite. Performance seems like it should be annoying, but somehow is just perfect instead.
Many of the performer's voices were distractingly awful. His voice for May sounds exactly like a man doing a comedic impression of an annoying teenage girl for a broad comedy, his voice for Ushikara is a bad villain stereotype from a low budget Hanna Barbera cartoon, and he insists on reading the 'news story' chapters using a poor imitation of a classic newsreel narrator. The only thing that kept me listening was the wonderful writing of Murakami itself, which deserves the respect of a competent vocal actor.
The narrator and the very, very unpredictable story line.
same as above
he was incredible with the various character voices, especially the female characters.
all were very deep and involved characters, hard to pick one. WOuld have to say Mei would be most memorable, probably due to the narrators voice being able to accurately reflect a manic/flighty typical 16 yr old girl.
My first Murakami book but I'll be downloading his others!
3 words: surreal, sinister, gripping.
An ordinary life goes slowly and then not so slowly off the rails, until the line between dreams and waking is no longer clear. The cast of characters is rich and interesting.
If felt like the author kind of gave up on making a coherent story of all the threads he had been drawing out through the book. Instead of the lines converging, they mostly proceed independently towards the horizon. The Manchurian war episodes contrast jarringly with the domestic life portrait.
By far the best thing about the experience. The range of different accents and affects he brings to the characters, like the threatening messenger or the teenage girl, is wonderful. The quiet, sibilant politician's voice will stick in my ear for a long time.
It certainly kept me awake late several nights.
The storyline was complex and VERY imaginative. From reading some of the other reviews, it seems that people either love the narration or hate it. I really enjoyed that Mr. Degas was able to create such distinct voices for each of the characters. It made the audio easy to follow. I admit that some of the voices were a bit exaggerated, consistent with the perceived nature of the particular character, but for me, that was a plus. I enjoyed both the story and the performance.
His books may not be for everyone, but for those that will appreciate it, I suspect they will love them. This book was no excretion for me. Unique, weird, and ultimately fascinating. I was enthralled throughout.
The narrator actually did a great job too. I was impressed with his distinctive voices.
This ranks as one of the top audiobooks I have listened to, no doubt.
I would like to start out first by saying that this is a review of the audiobook and not necessarily a comment on the novel as a whole. I am a huge fan of Murakami's work and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles is a fantastic story. Having said this, the audiobook version takes an unfortunate misstep when it comes to the narration. He ignores the original line deliveries and in doing so puts his own spin on the characters and the overall feel of the work. Frankly, it is annoying and somewhat disjointed.
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