Despite having until May 12th to read the third and final section, I fell behind in this readalong. (May is such a busy month!) To see what others had to say, read Ti’s and others’ thoughts on Book Three of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
In a nutshell, what takes place in Book Three?
In Book Three (The Birdcatcher – October 1984 to December 1985), time seems to stretch out for Toru Okada. Where each of the first two books covered only a period of a few months in Toru’s strangely changed life, Book Three extended out beyond a year, during which Toru is given a new job, one that infuriates his brother-in-law/evil nemesis Noboru Wataya, and brings Toru closer to gaining his missing wife (and his lost life) back. As incomprehensible events seem to spiral more and more out of the narrator’s control, the calmer and more confident he seems to become, possibly because he grasps that if much of what is happening is in his head, not in the real world, he can learn to control what happens in this parallel realm.
Murakami has admitted in the past that he never knows how a story will end when he begins to write it. Based on interviews, this was particularly true with The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Do you feel that this technique added something to the story? Or do you feel that it had the opposite effect?
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is one of those books that I could see being annotated throughout with extensive notations and references by fanatic readers. (Maybe it has been?) It was difficult to keep all the seemingly random story threads in my head as I was reading; I should have made notes. It reminded me of ongoing TV series like The X-Files where sometimes a plot line that seemed highly significant trails off into nothing, and some extremely minor incident turns out to be the key to the whole puzzle. Even if it’s true that the seemingly random plot events really were random, I believe the author succeeded in bringing all of his surreal story lines together in the end.
Your turn! What’s your final verdict?
What a long, strange trip it’s been! — That’s how I would sum it up. With each plot digression, introduction of a new character, and self-contained story in Book Three I would think “What the heck does this have to do with anything?” but each snagged my interest and I would get caught up in it, only to have it abruptly dropped. The author isn’t trying to create a world a reader could comfortably sink into; he keeps the story constantly in flux. So if you like mysterious, surreal worlds where anything can and does happen, but you’re never sure why (or whether there’s a reason at all), you will probably like The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. If you don’t like to puzzle over events in a novel or wonder what the author’s meaning is, steer clear of this one!
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was the second novel by Haruki Murakami that I’ve read. (The other was Kafka on the Shore.) I still want to read Norwegian Wood and IQ84. When’s the next readalong?