Friday, January 30, 2009

New Classics Challenge Review

I still have delusions of finishing the New Classics Challenge.

I only have to read 2.5 more books and review them. By tomorrow at midnight. Except, really, 5, because that's when my friend Ali's train gets in. And I still have to clean the house and I have plans for tonight. But I can finish, right?

Well, I did finish reading the longest book of the challenge, which is also TOTALLY counting for the chunkster challenge, coming in at 607 pages.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel Haruki Murakami

How do I begin to explain this? You have a missing cat, and his out-of-work drifting owner, and his disintegrating marriage. You have psychics, special healing powers, a politician that we just don't trust, and connections back to the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. You have a crazy Russian officer, a teenager obsessed with death, and people spending a lot of time in the bottom of a well. Trust me, it all ties together into one glorious and amazing package of a book. To get too much into it would reveal too much about how the bits and pieces tie together.

In this book, Murakami uses the light, almost not there, but totally IS there, magical realism that we see in Banana Yoshimoto's work (I'm thinking most about "Moonlight Shadow" the second novella that's packaged with Kitchen). Yes there are dreams that may be happening on another plane, and psychic prostitutes, and other touches of the slightly paranormal (not least of which is the Wind Up Bird itself) but it doesn't feel like fantasy or anything, except for realistic fiction that isn't... realistic. I don't know how to explain it.

This may be the most incoherent book review ever.

Can I just say it was awesome and it reminded me that I really just need to read more Murakami, because I'm always blown away when I do?


Unknown said...

I love this book. But I can't explain it for the life of me. That probably showed in my review, too.

Ana S. said...

I thought this was amazing too. You're making me want to read it again! Also, I need to get Kitchen.

M. Molly Backes said...

I completely shouldn't admit this, but I really hated that book! My friend Kelly made me read it, and I struggled through it, having to put it down during the parts where people are ripping other people's skin off. The fact that I only remember the skin ripping and the stupid missing cat probably explains, in part, why this is not one of my favorite books! :-)

Jennie said...

Oh Molly, don't worry. It's a book that definitely is NOT for everyone. Also, I have read a lot, both fiction and non, about Japanese/Chinese/Mongolian relations during WWII-- sadly, you come to expect such descriptions as the skinning scenes.