©2006 Haruki Murakami; (P)2006 Naxos AudioBooks
This is a captivating chronicle of Mr Wind Up Bird - where the main character goes into extremely verbose detail about everything he does - and everything other people have told him.
In real life I would hate this - just get to the point - but in this book you welcome the descriptiveness of everything - even down to him making some spaghetti in chapter 1.
This book is long but it isn't boring. Often when people talk to you they touch on something and you are curious about the things they touch on. The author of this book seems to know you are curious and goes off on tangent after tangent describing and filling in the gaps that you just assume will come up at some point.
The book remains moderately sane for the first half - then gets weirder and weirder - but a good weird that leaves the reader curious to contine.
The audio book reader shows great talent at differentiating the voices of the different characters - it is something often lacking in other audibooks.
I thoroughly recommend this audiobook - give it a go.
"I think I'm turning Japenease"
What a brilliant listen. Gives you an insight into the scary labyrinth that is Murakami's imagination. All the characters range from quirky (at the very least) to the outright bizarre, this serves as a wonderful contrast to the lead, whose happy (but somewhat dull) existence is about to be overturned. Not everybody's cup of tea, but really great if you occasionally like to come out of the comfort zone.
"Long but never boring"
This is the second of Murakami's novels I've listened to and I enjoyed this one very nearly as much as Kafka on the Shore. Again this is a very fine novel; mystical, poetic, brutal, uplifting. The author seems to have an uncanny knack of being able to tell a great story without having much of a story to tell. If you boil down the actual events the book, nothing much happens, but there is this tremendous sense that there is an order to the world. When something disturbs that order, Murakami's protagonists have to embark on an odyssey before they can get back where they belong with the various elements of their world order in their rightful places.
I suspect this is a big thick book if you see it in a bookshop, yet not a word seems out of place or superfluous.
Vast sections of the book are told in side-stories of minor characters and yet everything that is told has its place and pulls the reader along with it. It's complicated without being convoluted.
I never once felt bored in the 20 hours of listening and that must be a difficult thing for a writer of this type of work to achieve.
"A very different listen"
It is not really like anything I have listened to or heard before, you are not sure what is meant to be reality or not, as you listen you have absolutely no idea at all where the story is going and what will be in the next chapter. That sounds like something bad but this is the genius of the book, you will be wondering all the way through how and if all of the plot lines and characters are going to tie up. The story blends reality and dream together with a bit of supernatural. As others have said the narration was extrordinary. A very enjoyable experience, but be prepared for something quite different to what you may be used to in terms of how you are used to thinking a story "should" go. Not a fast paced story, requires time and patience but it is a very rewarding experience.
"24 hours and I think I've missed the point."
I was tempted to give up with this book on several occasions but stuck it out to the end in the hope that the conclusion would bring all the strands together. Unfortunately that didn't really happen for me.
I found the war stories very compelling but couldn't really empathise with any of the many characters. The brother-in-law was central to everything but by the end of the book I still couldn't work out the motivation behind his character. It was probably all a bit too deep for me!
The narrator had a challenging job in giving voices to a range of characters. Although he succeeded in making each one distinct, I personally found some of the characters' voices grating and difficult to listen to.
"quirky plot with nicely drawn characters"
i'm hooked - think david lynch in tokyo
"Tends towards incoherence"
This is my first stab at Murakami, and I'd heard this was supposed to be his breakthrough, so thought I'd give it a shot. It has an intriguing surreal quality to it, counter-pointed with rather stark, straightforward prose. And, as far as its audio version goes, it is superbly narrated.
The book itself, though, is a very long listen, which in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. However, because the story has no linear plot to speak of, my mind began to wander. There was little to hold on to, no thread to pull me through this roughly 24 hours worth of attention I needed to give to it. So, when I got to the third and final installment and saw that I had yet another eight hours to go, I must admit my heart dropped a bit. But I've slogged on and, upon finishing, felt good simply for having gotten through it. If self-consciously artistic literary fiction that purposely does away with plot and narrative structure is your thing, by all means, take this review as praise. If you're looking for a great yarn to captivate you and keep you desperate to know what will happen next, well, look elsewhere. I won't be rushing out to read another Murakami anytime soon, though will perhaps look at a shorter work if I do.
"The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle"
For my first experience with audio books I chose this, my favourite ever novel.
This is probably not usually the best way of going about things but this time it worked out well for me, the narrator has a fantastic delivery, with a great variety of characters, all sounding very natural and authentic. Add this to the gripping and mesmeric story and you have a sure fire winner. Bring on more.
I do like David Lynch but I did not like this. Intriguing to begin with but it never really delivered. The first audiobook I have been close to giving up on
"Is it literature - does it matter?"
This hits me like Beckett does rather than Chandler - it paints patterns which hypnotise and challenge the reader at every turn without being half as pretentious as I sound here. Only Marquez has had this sort of impact on me in the last 20 years. It would be my top read of the decade - but his Kafka on the Shore is even more arresting. This great Japanese writer has told me more about the world I have lived in than any British writer I know.
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