Wednesday, June 03, 2009
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle possibly requires a second reading before fair judgment. There's a lot of symbolic material and the various mirrored narratives and time-frames suggest a careful analysis might be rewarded with a deeper appreciation of the novel. But do I care enough to read it again?
I'd approaced the book with a great deal of anticipation, as it is adored by so many folks. Unfortunately I found it more interesting than good, and at times my interest waned to the point it bored me to death. I nearly put it away around page 400 but slogged through.
Societies repress disturbing memories, just as individuals do. Japan's war-time atrocities in China bubble to the surface as the narrator confronts smaller evils in his personal life. Symbols recurr: the wind-up bird, the baseball bat, the mark on a cheek, the well, the island nation which once housed a powerful empire. The characters are universally detached, devoid of emotion. The narrator is unconcerned when confronted by death, ghosts, psychic phenomena, adultry by his spouse, accounts of war crimes, his own mortality--and if the characters are so unconcerned about events in the book, why shouldn't the reader respond similarly?