Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wind Up Bird Chronicle : Haruki Murakami

Wind up Bird Chronicle
Haruki Murakami

I think this is my favorite Murakami book so far. There's a maturity and depth to this book that is not in his other books that I've read so far. You've still got Murakami's usual crisp and hopelessly addictive writing style. And there's a number of classic recurring Murakami themes: music and pop culture references, a female character disappearing and bizarre/surreal/semi-mystical powers at play. But here, he's able to sink his teeth into more powerful subjects, like issues affecting marriage as well as the Japanese involvement in World War II. (How many novelists can say that they pair those two subjects together in a novel?)

As a result of this more expansive nature, a number of secondary characters get more coverage than his other novels. This is not to say that there are multiple main characters. Murakami's books usually have one strongly defined protagonist, which he seems to return to again and again (in fact, in my mind, all of his books have the same main character) and all of the secondary characters really are thrown in to guide the protagonist through his odyssey. However, in this novel, Murakami can more leisurely go into some stories of these secondary characters, such as a military character's secret mission experience.

Finally, unlike a number of Murakami's other novels, which end rather obtusely, this novel felt like it had a specific and realistic closure.

I must say that it's been a bit eye-opening reading a Murakami novel after so long. I don't think Murakami is exactly weighty serious literature that changes your perspective on life. But it is writing that is well done and is consistently interesting. I look forward to the next time I get some time to read another Murakami.