The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami


Toru Okada is currently unemployed; he peruses job adds, waits for his wife Kumiko to come home from work, while he takes care of the household. One day he notices that their cat disappeared. Soon Kumiko fails to return from work. While trying to find her and the cat, he encounters several strange people, mostly women, strange things start happening to him, and the world around him becomes more and more chaotic and violent. 

Toru meets lieutenant Mamiya, who tells him about his war-time experience in Manchuria. He was thrown into a well and it changed him, made him an empty shell. There are a lot of references about emptiness. Lieutenant Mamiya becomes an empty shell after sunlight floods over him while sitting in a well. Noboru Wataya, Toru’s brother in law, seems to Toru like he has incredible emptiness inside, which has the power to make everything appear hollow. After reading about lieutenant Mamiya’s experience in a well, Toru decides to go down a well in a garden of an empty house in his neighbourhood and stays there for three days. The experience changes him. Things seem to become different afterwards. Down there, in the darkness and silence, anything is possible. Similar themes appeared in Murakami’s other novels, like After Dark, when darkness makes things possible, and 1Q84, where people change after a certain event. After Toru returns from the well he notices his neighbourhood being different, he in different himself and the cat came back. In The Wind-up Bird Chronicle there are more similar stories, when something happens to people and as a result, they change. 

The novel is written in three parts, the first and the second are pretty much similar in pace, but the third I found more fast paced. It’s when the story gets really weird. The ending is left opened. Haruki Murakami said in an interview that he doesn’t like conclusions; he rather leaves everything wide open to all the possibilities in the world. For him conclusions don’t have meaning, experience in itself is meaning. He also said that it’s not important what the protagonist found but how he changed.

All in all I loved this book. The story is full of weird people and events, there are dreams, memories, strange women and phone calls, stories within a story, newspaper clippings and letters. I love being immersed into Murakami’s world, let the story sweep over me. At first I read his novels as sort of going on in parallel worlds, but now I’m inclined to think that there is only one world viewed form different perspectives. It’s people that change, not the world. In this story, there are some violent scenes and a couple of graphic sex scenes, but it didn’t bother me. They are part of Toru’s violent and chaotic world and ours isn’t much different.

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Toru Okada je brezposeln. Doma skrbi za gospodinjstvo, pregleduje objave prostih delovnih mest v časopisu in čaka, da se njegova žena Kumiko vrne iz službe. Nekega dne opazi, da je izginil njun maček. Nekaj dni kasneje se Kumiko ne vrne domov. Medtem ko išče mačka in ženo, srečuje čudne ljudi, predvsem ženske, čudne stvari se mu začnejo dogajati, njegov svet pa postaja vedno bolj kaotičen in nasilen.

Toru spozna poročnika Mamiyo, ki mu razkrije svoje vojne dogodivščine iz Mančurije. Takrat so ga vrgli v vodnjak, kar ga je precej spremenilo, kot pravi sam, je postal prazna lupina. V knjigi je veliko govora o praznini. Poročnik Mamiya je postal prazna lupina potem, ko ga vsak dan za pol ure je obsijalo sonce, medtem ko je sedel v vodnjaku. V svaku, Noboruju Watayi, Toru zaznava neverjetno praznino, zaradi katere vse okoli njega postane votlo. Potem, ko je spoznal poročnikove izkušnje iz vodnjaka, se Toru odloči, da se tudi sam spusti v vodnjak v vrtu zapuščene hiše v soseščini, kjer ostane tri dni. Tudi njega izkušnja spremeni. Spodaj v temi in tišini je mogoče vse. Podobne teme se pojavljajo tudi v drugih Murakamijevih romanih, kot na primer v romanu After Dark, ko je ponoči možno marsikaj ali v 1Q84, kjer se ljudem po nekem dogodku ali izkušnji svet spremeni. Potem ko se Toru vrne iz vodnjaka opazi, da je njegova soseska drugačna, tudi sam postane drugačen pa še maček se vrne. V tej knjigi je še kar nekaj drugih zgodb kjer se ljudje po težkih izkušnjah spremenijo.

Kronika ptiča navijalca je napisana v treh delih. Prvi in drugi sta si po tempu podobna, medtem ko se mi je zdelo, da je tretji hitrejši. Takrat se začnejo dogajati vedno bolj čudne stvari. Konec je odprt. V nekem intervjuju je Haruki Murakami povedal, da ne mara zaključkov. Raje pusti konec popolnoma odprt. Zanj zaključki nimajo smisla, izkušnja sama je smisel. Ni pomembno kaj je junak zgodbe našel ampak kako se je spremenil.

Knjiga mi je bila zelo všeč. Zgodba je polna čudnih ljudi in dogodkov, sanj, spominov, čudnih žensk in telefonskih klicev, zgodb v zgodbah, časopisnih izrezkov in pisem. Všeč mi je, ko se potopim v Murakamijev svet, ko me njegove zgodbe preplavijo. Sprva sem njegove romane brala kot dogajanje v vzporednih svetovih, sedaj pa se mi vedno  bolj zdi, da gre za isti svet, ki ga gledamo iz različnih zornih kotov. Ljudje se spremenijo, ne svet. V Kroniki ptiča navijalca je nekaj prizorov nasilja in eksplicitne spolnosti, kar pa ne mi motilo. Vse to je del Torujevega nasilnega in kaotičnega sveta. Tudi naš svet je tak.


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