Tag: Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami – The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle | Review

Title: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Author: Haruki Murakami

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 628

Rating: 4.5/5

I picked up this book as a buddy read with my friend Charlie, who’s also an excellent author in his own right. Buddy reads are almost always more fun than regular reads, but I think I would have still enjoyed this one regardless. That said, it did have at least one other impact because we read it three chapters a day instead of all in one go, and I think that helped me to take it a little more slowly and to savour it.

And there was plenty to savour here. Possibly one of my favourites was also the most brutal scene, in which someone got skinned alive with all the efficiency of someone peeling a peach. Murakami is a truly talented writer no matter what he’s writing about, which in this case meant that the whole scene was horrifically realistic, right down to the way that the man screamed.

I also like the sort of slight hallucinatory quality that the book has. It’s almost like a series of interrelated vignettes as opposed to a traditional novel, but it works really well and gives you something different as a reader that you might not have been expecting. I’ve read Murakami a bunch of times before of course, but he takes things in a slightly different direction here.

There’s almost something timeless about the storytelling here, and you have to give Murakami credit for that. Credit is also very much due to Jay Rubin too, who’s the translator here. I was stoked to see that when I picked it up because Rubin is my favourite Murakami translator. I was excited to see that right on the credits page, and the book just kept on getting better from there.

Another memorable series of scenes are those that took place at the bottom of wells. There was something deeply disturbing about those scenes, and you could really sense the claustrophobia. To be honest, it’s making me feel a little bit weird just thinking back to them.

What’s interesting about Murakami is that he has this knack of writing stories that are slow paced and meandering but which still definitely go somewhere. They’re the kind of books where it feels like anything can happen, and that’s what makes Murakami so readable. This here feels as though it might be his equivalent of The Stand, and there’s certain that kind of epic quality to it.

But perhaps it’s more like Cloud Atlas or something like that, because it all takes place in our own world and there are none of the supernatural hijinks that come along with Stephen King, who I guess is the closest I can think of to Murakami when it comes to making fictional characters seem realistic while writing about the darker sides of humanity.

To be honest, when I got started on this book, all I knew about it was that it was a Murakami novel and that Charlie wanted to read it. I think I had a slight subconscious knowledge of it being quite a popular one amongst Murakami fans, but that’s about it. I’m glad that the buddy read gave me the impetus to pick it up and to order a copy in rather than just waiting until I spotted it in a charity shop.

So would I recommend this one? Oh hell yeah, I was very impressed by it. It might be kind of long if you’re new to Murakami, and I think most people probably start out with Norwegian Wood, but I think this book is a cracker no matter who wrote it. The fact that it’s a translation just makes it cooler.

Learn more about The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

 


Haruki Murakami – Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman | Review

Title: Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

Author: Haruki Murakami

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 436

Rating: 4/5

This was another book that’s been on my wish list for a little while because Murakami is one of those authors where I want to read everything that he’s ever written. I actually picked this one up because I got my friend to pick out some random numbers to correspond with books on my wish list and this is what she came up with.

I didn’t realise until after it arrived that it was a collection of short stories, but that’s not a problem. I’ve always enjoyed short stories and Murakami is a master at the style, and so you know that you’re in for a treat here. Despite that, there are still a couple of stories here that I didn’t much enjoy, but that’s only natural in a collection like this.

For the most part though, this was a cracking collection and I was very pleased with it, even though it took me a little longer to get through it than I was expecting. There are a lot of ideas here and it takes a little time to wrap your head around them, but that’s to be expected when you’re reading Murakami. I blitzed through the whole collection in three or four days, but I’d also understand if you wanted to take a little longer to make sure that it all sinks in.

What I would say is that this could be a pretty good place to start if you’re new to Murakami’s work and you want to get an overall cross-section of what he’s all about. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but then show me a book that is. No, seriously, show me it. I’m about ready to add a few new more books to my wish list.

So would I recommend it? Overall, it’s a yes from me, although you might want to read it over a prolonged period of time instead of doing what I did and focussing on it as your main read. That way, you can enjoy it a lot more, a bit like having a series of meals at different restaurants instead of stuffing yourself silly at an all-you-can-eat.

Oh, and of course, big thanks to my friend (who’d probably prefer to be unnamed) for picking this book out for me. As you can tell, it was a big hit for me and a lot of fun, and just the book that I needed at just the time I needed it. Good stuff!

Learn more about Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.

 


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