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Book Review : A Magical Mystery Tour

Saturday, March 19, 2005 Posted: 11:12 AM JST

Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle : A Novel starts in a way that confuses and gives a taste of everything that follows. Yet, everything that follows is totally unexpected. The main character, Toru Okada, is an unemployed, seemingly passive and unimpressive character. If you met him in real life you may forget about him only minutes after having met.

But as the story unfolds this impression seems increasingly mistaken. He doesn't turn into some great hero pulling his clothes off and showing a superman suit. Murakami is far too subtle for that. He has a better way to let Toru Okada grow on you. The more you learn about him, or actually about his thoughts, the more real he becomes and the deeper the impression he leaves on you. What Toru Okada does is amazing, yet you are not really sure what he is doing. Toru Okada himself doesn't even seem te be sure.

As the story unfolds his thoughts, his memories, his experiences pull you into a world that clearly can't be real, but a world that at the same time feels more than real. What is Murakami trying to achieve, you wonder? What is he trying to say in this book? He never really clarifies that. He just describes a series of events that seem puzzling, in a world that seems confused. Through Murakami's writing you get to know the feeling of enstrangement. You get to know a different way of looking at the world of thought as well as at the 'real' world. In the process of doing that Murakami manages to make you wonder about the reality of anything. Including that of your own life.

The Wind-Up Bird is not a story, it is a journey into someone's thoughts, and as a result, into your own thoughts. If you like clear books with heroes and villains, clear themes and clear endings, this book is not for you. If you like to be pulled aside to be shown a new way of looking at something, and if you like to venture into the unknown world of your own thoughts, you will thoroughly enjoy this amazing story by Murakami. Strongly recommended.

Fruits by Shoichi Aoki

Keywords: book_news

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The now legendary Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843-1929) was a member of the British legation in Tokyo for twenty-one years. This classic book is based on the author's detailed diary, personal encounters, and keen memory. In it, Satow records the history of the critical years of social and political upheaval that accompanied Japan's first encounters with the West around the time of the Meiji Restoration. Fascinating.
Stone Bridge Press

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