©2006 Haruki Murakami; (P)2006 Naxos AudioBooks
I have no idea why other reviews hated the narration. Rupert Degas read heaps of Murakami books, all with great care and showmanship. Other than being an amazing book, it also benefit from a great performance.
Jumping into a dark well to think to the point of starvation, characters that resemble caricatures, seem to appear and disappear with names such as Crete and Malta, a cat that comes back with a different tail... all this makes this book odd and amazing. This is my second book by this author and I remain intrigued by his storytelling and style. My issue is only with the violence, where the author dwells on wartime atrocities, taking care to describe torture techniques a bit too graphically for my taste. The audio is effective and keep you going until the end.
Bold. Funny. Horrific. Ethereal. And Fantastic in all senses of the word. Echoes of Dostoevsky, Kafka, Beckett. There are many, many memorable characters and scenes; but Murakami creates through these only the major pieces of a larger puzzle. He appears to be drawing parallels between two kinds of relationships (a) the interactions (loving, mundane, barbaric, kind, cruel, lustful, comic, duplicitous) humans have with each other and (b) the interactions (same list, pretty much) we have in our minds with our past, present, and future selves. These relationships cross and fade into each other so smoothly that neither we nor the characters are completely sure where one ends and another begins. A really wonderful book that feels like it will provoke thought for quite awhile.
I had read this book in hard copy. I enjoyed it even more listening to this audio version. The reader is brilliant, as is the novel. Be prepared for a surreal yet vivid, intriguing experience.
"Fun Journey, but Lack of Resolution"
3.5 stars. If you like Murakami, you will probably enjoy this. If you have not yet read a Murakami novel, I wouldn't recommend starting with this one -- it might prevent you from reading some of the most fun and engaging literature of modern times. Try Kafka on the Shore, perhaps.
Although generally engaging (I really did enjoy listening to the book), there are too many subplots that aren't adequately resolved, which left me feeling somewhat unsatisfied when I finished the book.
I've read elswhere that the original Japanese version was "stripped down" for the English translation as it was too long, and as a result, certain storylines being cut short. This is plausible.
The narrator is excellent.
"very enjoyable listen"
I found this to be a very entertaining story. This is not the type of book I usually buy, and I'm glad that I tried it! It's a wonderful tale with several other stories within. It is well written and well read - very enjoyable.
What a fun read. The story is a skillful tale that blends and blurs reality and unreality; and which is which? Ultimately all seem to be only facets of the same reality. Maybe that is too ambitious a description. It is enough to say that the story is interesting, mysterious, comedic, thought provoking but above all entertaining throughout. The narrator is excellent, and every character has their own personality and voice. I enjoyed this book very much.
"Another Haruki's world"
I actually read it in Japanese first, and was curious enough to listen to the English Audiobook. It is in a way scary because I did have my own imagination of the world of this book. However, I was NOT dissapointed. This is pretty good interpretation and performance. I loved it and listened three times so far.
"Enthralling from chapter 1"
I just downloaded this. I jump around a bit from genre to genre, but I alway gravitate to longer selections for the value and engagement. I'm not quite sure where I would put this as far as genre goes, but I was hooked after only a few chapters. The engineering is of good quality and the narrator keeps my attention and has good enunciation and pace. The story- well I will let you decide (I hate spoilers), but I can say this it's hard to put away once you get in to it. There is mild sexual content so be warned, but for anyone well read it is very tame.
"Completely weird and undescribeable"
As I slowly got into this book, I laughed out loud at times, was perplexed and filled with wonderment, and startled by some characters and actions which are so strange, others so real and horrific.... it is a very odd book. I doubt if I could "read" it but I loved listening to it.
"Exceptional narration.....Awesomely quirky story"
Let me begin by saying that this is a very strange story indeed. It will stay with me for a good while. I do want to emphasize, however, that I feel that the narrator did an exceptional and very entertaining job with very difficult material.
I loved most parts of this story and ...well, some parts were horrifically fascinating. Like a gruesome traffic accident that you cannot look away from even though you know you'll have nightmares from the sight.
This is not a book that has a "specific" story but rather an intimate portrait of a microcosmic slice of humanity. I cried, I laughed (especially at the neighbor girl, May [sp?]) and I cringed. In fact, I believe I ran almost the entire gamut of emotions that I am capable of...including some disappointment in the way in which the author finished this story. I don't always expect everything wrapped up in neat tidy bundles but I felt a little flat, so to speak, in the last act.
Would I have missed this opportunity to have entered this world and met these characters? Emphatically no. Would I have liked a slightly different conclusion? yes.
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.
"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.
"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.
"Best audible book so far"
I was completely captivated by this book, mainly because of the superb narration by Mr Degas. The story, if you can call it that, alternates between mundane, surreal and disturbing, and sometimes a combination. Not a comfortable listen, but I really didn't want it to end. Haven't listened to anything as interesting before or since. If you read the other reviews it seems that everyone has got something different from it, which I suppose is the point. Will definitely listen again to this one. And I am looking out for more by the narrator, who I thought was fantastic. Would give it more stars if I could.
"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 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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"quirky plot with nicely drawn characters"
i'm hooked - think david lynch in tokyo
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