I was hooked from the very first page. Mr. Okada at home, cooking, receiving a very strange phonecall. He's unemployed so he takes care of the house while his wife goes to work. Even though there are characters in the book with a lot more to say, he's probably the most interesting character. The novel isn't strictly about him, it's more about other people and the stories they have to tell. He's a medium, there's something about him that makes people open up. He's married to Kumiko, and they have a cat together. The cat is lost and in their search to find it, their world changes dramatically.
This book as it's rightly called a chronicle, isn't just one book. Things happen, new characters show up, and there you are reading something entirely different thinking how can the author so brilliantly write this way?
I feel very strongly about this book, and I can't say what is it exactly that makes me think it a wonder of a book. Is it the characters? The journey of self-discovery they go through? A part of Japan's history opening up to me for the first time? The stories? The beautiful quotes that stared me in the face almost every time I read it? It's definitely a combinaton of all of them together. In addition, it's as if the author is pouring his soul out, so you can't but help be compelled to every page.
It's true that I felt a want to read it all day long, but there was no need in that feeling. I liked that, usually when I feel so strongly about a book I'd wait impatiently for my bedtime so I could read it at last. This wasn't the case with this book, I knew I could afford to take my time so it happened that a day I couldn't pick it up and even though I missed it, it wasn't a nagging feeling. I don't know why it was the case with the Wind-up Bird Chronicle. I realized I needed to take my time with it, not rush reading so I can fully grasp all the things it was trying to convey to me.
Now to quotes, and I love love all of them:
We could barely keep our heads above. water in those days. In time, we forgot about Mr. Honda, just as most busy young people tend to forget about most old people.
Oh, what the hell. I went in, pulling the gate shut behind me. If something was going to happen, let it happen. If something wanted to happen, let it happen.
Oh, well. Nowhere has everything you need.
"The passage of time will usually extract the venom from most things and render them harmless."
She was the type of person who thought things through while speaking.
Results aside, the ability to have complete faith in another human being is one the finest qualities a person can possess.
"The majority of people dismiss those things that lie beyond the bounds of their own understanding as absurd and not worth thinking about."
"Here's what I think, Mr. Wind-Up Bird," said May Kasahara. "Everybody's born with some different thing at the core of their existence. And that thing, whatever it is, becomes like a heat source that runs each person from the inside. I have one too, of course. Like everybody else. But sometimes it gets out of hand. It swells or shrinks inside me, and it shakes me up. What I'd really like to do is find a way to communicate that feeling to another person. But I can't seem to do it. They just don't get it. Of course, the problem could be that I'm not explaining it very well, but I think it's because they're not listening very well. They pretend to be listening, but they're not, really. So I get worked up sometimes, and I do some crazy things."
"They say a name expresses the thing it stands for, but I wonder if it isn't the other way around - the thing gets more and more like its name"
"There are things in this world it is better not to know about. Of course, those are the very things that people most want to know about."
"I guess time doesn't flow in order, does it - A, B, C, D? It just sort of goes where it feels like going?"
"So, in a sense, I am grateful to you, Mr. Wind-up Bird. I don't suppose it's much fun to have somebody be "in a sense" grateful to you, though, is it?"
A terrible quiet seems to have descended on everything. I feel as if the world is listening for my next thought. But I can't think of anything. Sorry, but I just can't think of anything.
If my review makes you expect a lot from the book, let it do so. However, my advice is that you don't. It's best to pick it up with no expectations and if you don't fall for it then I claim full responsibility. I started reading it thinking I would have a hard time understanding it, but I was greatly mistaken. I love it when I'm mistaken in such a way with a book, don't you?
On a final note, the book was in the back of my mind, it was something I knew I'd read this summer but I have to thank my friend Ammar who told me to read it now, so thank you!
And a special thank you to David, who recommended this book to me!