Tag: Regular

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.

 


Irvine Welsh – Porno | Review

Title: Porno

Author: Irvine Welsh

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 486

Rating 4/5

 

 

This is a heavy old read, but what else would you expect from Irvine Welsh? In fact, because the print in this thing is so small, it felt as though it was longer than it was, so I ended up reading it over the course of a month or so, 25 pages at a time in bed. It’s pretty weird bedtime reading, but it was also a good way of doing it because it meant that the story unfolded in real time.

This is the book that the second Trainspotting movie is based on, and indeed it is a sequel, at least in that it follows the same characters. In this one, Sick Boy decides he’s going to make a porn movie, and we follow what happens as he starts shooting and editing the thing. Renton comes back from Amsterdam to help with the funding, and Begbie has been released from jail and is out for blood and vengeance.

There was good and bad to this, but I think that the good mostly overpowered the bad and made this one worth reading. My main complaint with it would be the ending, and even then it’s not as though I didn’t like what happened. It’s more that it felt rushed, especially the last ten pages or so, but then I’m also not sure I could have kept on reading it for too much longer.

 

 

What I did like is that we get to see a whole bunch of familiar faces including “Juice” Terry Lawson, who’s one of my favourite of Welsh’s creations. I also feel as though there were one or two minor characters that I’d come across from Welsh’s short stories, although I couldn’t swear by that. He builds these super realistic worlds which are arguably so realistic because he grounds them in our reality.

So all in all then, I was pretty happy with this one, although as I said, it’s not one that I’d recommend going into lightly. The tiny print and the Scottish dialect combine to make it a challenge, although Welsh also does a good job of spacing out the dialect-heavy sections with other sections that are written in regular English. These sections also allow us to see what’s happening from a few different points of view, and that’s cool because it allows us to get a different take on what’s happening.

Would I recommend this? Sure, if you’re an Irvine Welsh fan, but you ought to read Trainspotting first. I also don’t think that they’re the best of Welsh’s books (my favourite is Marabou Stork Nightmares), so it’s not exactly the perfect place to start. But if you’re a fan of Welsh’s writing then you’re going to get more of what you love here. And I’m glad my cat picked this out.


 

 

Click here to buy Porno.

 


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