Tag: Realistic

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.

 


Emily St. John Mandel – Station Eleven | Review

Title: Station Eleven

Author: Emily St. John Mandel

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 340

Rating: 4.25/5

I’d heard a lot of good things about this book going into it, and then it was picked out for me by a friend who I asked to pick out a random number to coincide with a book on my wish list. This is what she picked out for me.

It’s also a beautiful little book as well, and so my expectations were pretty high going into it. I’m happy to say that it didn’t disappoint me, too. It’s beautifully written and does a great job of examining a bunch of different themes and subject matters and asking the reader some questions.

But for me, though, what I was most impressed with was the depiction of a world in which a super flu has taken out most of the population. It was extremely well done, and it was also pretty unsettling considering what’s going on in the world at the moment. I mean, there was even a scene in which one of the characters started panic buying and ended up stocking up a trolley entirely with toilet paper.

So I mean, I’m not sure if it’s the best book for you to read if you’re looking for a little bit of a distraction from what’s going on in  the world around us, but if you just want something that’s genuinely well-written and a pleasure to read, you’re going to struggle to find something better than this. Having now finished it, I can say that it lives up to all of the hype.

Would I recommend this one? Hell yeah I would, even during these troubled times when you might not really feel like engaging with this sort of subject matter. It’s not far off being a masterpiece and definitely a top contender for my top books of the quarter, even though it’s only just begun. It’s just a little bit scary how realistic it all was, you know? Bit nuts.

Learn more about Station Eleven.