Bookworm Edition: The Wind-Up Novel

Novels…remember those? Before all the self-help, grow and develop, learn about yourself or others books, there were novels.

I feel like I hadn’t read a novel in such a long time, and when I went through the books I still have to read, I only had one truly fictional novel. Now, by novel I don’t just mean a fictional story. I mean a novel that doesn’t have its foundations set in history, politics, biographies etc. I mean a book that has a story about a character and its all about a random event in his life that occurred…I mean detective stories or thrillers or suspense. Basically an escape.

I had one, just one book like this in my list, “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” by Murakami. I found it staring at me on one of my visits to the bookstore a year ago and it looked so odd and misplaced that I had to take it. I didn’t even read the synopsis, didn’t google it or read the first page. I just put it in my pile and carried on with my life.

Now, if you are in a similar head space where you want an escape and it needs to be as odd and strange as possible I highly recommend this book. It’s 600 pages so not for the faint hearted but boy is it weird. And not one kind of weird, but all kinds of weird. It follows a main character, who quite honestly, seems boring, however the people he meets and the stories that are shared with him are…how do I put this…left-field?

Oh and the questions! I had so many questions and it was around the 200 page mark that I gave up asking. Now, let me be clear. There are some paragraphs of this book I skipped. One or two paragraphs in a 600 page novel isn’t a big deal especially when the descriptions of war-time torture are involved. Yep, I didn’t mention a war story was involved? One of the characters stories.
There’s psychics, prostitutes, war veterans, academics all in one story, all crossing paths with this boring main character’s life…at the same time. Now do you understand why this realistic book is at the same time unrealistic? I was intrigued. The main character was an instrument, a tool used to express the emotional lives of the other characters. Events in their own lives, external or sometimes provoked, had put them on strange paths and in their narrating it seemed like they were trying to solve some mystery that would provide them with reasons or explanations about their lives. And they took you on this journey with them.

I needed an escape from reality and this book provided it. While the separate factors were all realistic and not far fetched, the comings together seemed so odd and unlikely. The mere size of this story helped in forcing one to zone out and stop with the questions. Or even the thinking.

If you want out of your comfort zone, attempt this novel.

“I happened to lose my life at one particular moment in time, and I have gone on living these forty years or more with my life lost. As a person who finds himself in such a position, I have come to think that life is a far more limited thing than those in the midst of its maelstrom realize. The light shines into the act of of life for only the briefest moment – perhaps only a matter of seconds. Once it is gone and one has failed to grasp its offered revelation, there is no second chamce. One may have to live the rest of one’s lifeon hopeless depths of loneliness and remorse. In that twilight world, one can no longer look forward to anything. All that such a person holds in his hands is the withered corpse of what should have been.” – The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Murakami

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