Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"Even two weeks after I've finished this novel, it still haunts my thoughts on a daily basis." ~Lucas

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 sixteen-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.

Lucas says:
"Even two weeks after I've finished this novel, it still haunts my thoughts on a daily basis. This novel starts out as a seemingly simple story about a missing cat, but it quickly turns into a weird and uncomfortable metaphysical mind trip.
Soon after the cat goes missing, we're introduced to a cast of characters that includes a WWII vet, a teenage high school drop-out, a prostitute of the mind, psychics, political figures, etc. All of these characters' lives intersect at the point of the main character and his growing problems: at first a missing cat, but then a missing wife, then mind prostitution and strange metaphysical experiences,  and even political espionage.
Even though this book's setting is in one of Tokyo's suburbs in the 1980s, you never really get a feeling for that time or place. Instead you get a feeling for WWII Manchuria, well bottoms, hotel rooms, and what's inside each character's head.
While this book may have been a weird and uncomfortable read for me, it was also a great experience. I have never encountered a novel like this one before, and Murakami's writing is exceptionally gorgeous here.
I wouldn't recommend this book to someone who is looking for some light reading, but it would be a great read for anyone looking for more serious modern literature."

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