Babble Book Club: Discussion - the wind-up bird chronicle: Book One: The Thieving Magpie

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Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture
Babble Book Club: Discussion - the wind-up bird chronicle: Book One: The Thieving Magpie

It has come to my attention that they way I have labelled things in the past is not only confusing, but doesn't keep its promises! But a more structured way to create discussion was born rom those mistakes in thanks to some keen babblers, and instead, we will try to discuss segments of the book as we go. I think this will also help eliminate potential reveals of information to those who have not read a certain section, and will also help us all stay more on track.

I haven't fleshed out a hard or fast schedule for discussion yet, but we will see where the wind takes us on this one and just go from there!

Alright, let's get some discussion going for those who are ready to go!

Book One, chapters one to three (pages 5-45)

thoughts? concerns? critiques?

I myself, find my mind wandering at all the cliff-hangers that have been created: (1) missing cat and strange girl in the alley, (2) kumiko's lateness, potential affair, (3) the lady on the phone, and (4) Kano, her hats, her sister and the rape.

Issues Pages: 
ikosmos ikosmos's picture

A week from today, or so, and I will be starting to read the book.


Ditto to ikosmos's missive.


My thoughts aren't overly polished but...

I got the feeling that Toru Okada needed a shake-up in reality and has been headed for this for some time. His existence has been somewhat stagnant for years. I think his adventure into alternate reality likely started when he left the law firm and when he began asking questions that he didn't have time to ask before (pg.24 "never until then....had I grappled with questions like this. And why not?")

Those cliff hangers feel like they have been put there with purpose; something as simple as a missing cat leads to the discovery of an alternate reality. Weird and interesting and disturbing especially once the chapters progress. It almost feels like something conspiratorial is being plotted against Toru Okada with the invlovement of Kumiko's brother.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Hey everyone!

sorry for the absence, I have been ridiculously sick for about a week, and generally unable to look into a computer screen, let alone conjure up thoughts.

I hope everyone is enjoying there reading, being bookclub related or not, and enjoying the pending holiday season! I will be out of town for a bit starting this monday until the 31st. I will be checking in, but not as frequently as I usually do (or try to), just in case you were wondering why my lovely internet presence is so infrequent.

so keep reading and i look forward to our big time discussion in the new year!


I started to read this book today.  I'm only a few pages into chapter one and it's already grabbed me...the opening phone call sucks you right in.  I guess I have some catching up to do, though!


I hit page 450 this morning. I hope to finish the book  this weekend.


At page 56. An amazing look at life in Japan and appreciation for a tale with wry humour guiding the perspective of the protagonist - everyone has to love him. Murakami is able to set a mood, paint a scene and put the reader alongside him with ease - but perhaps all the foreshadowing will not fade into puzzlement and hints of the supranatural? But then, where would the mystery be? It's a work of incrementalism, that's what. And a page-turner. Can't wait to tell my friend, whose son has lived and worked in Japan for more than two decades, that Haruki Murakami is not the forbidding author that he thought. One does not have to try to dress like the natives - his experience on the ground - coming to this culture through this author.


Great read! I agree with Elizabeth on a lot of things - I feel like Toru Okada hasn't taken charge of his own life - ever. He's never cared enough to have passion, inspiration, even anger. I think we might see soon why there's been such a sudden change in his perspective on life. What has woken him up?  

I also find his relationship with his wife interesting - they seem to be together for convenience more than for passion. Like the ridiculous fight over beef and onions - and then the blame on the period (such an excuse) - it's like they go through the motions but have no realy deep attachment. 

Those are some of my random first impressions from the first few chapters. I'm really liking the surrealism in this novel - quite fun and weird.


I completely enjoyed the book. I read it in one sitting. My spouse asked me what it was about when I finished it and my best description was " I'm not sure" . Still stands, but a gripping story nonetheless. I don't normally read fiction but I'm going to get a few more of his books.


Interesting to see what constitutes "popular literature" in Japan. Now I have to know how Murakami's critics at home rate him, the gratuitous sex with the wet dreams and prostitution, the "history" of military actions that must haunt the public, and when appearing, perhaps indicate the work of a brave writer bent on telling truths.

It started well enough,and one could identify with the characters until water drowned all the other mysterious imagery.Our protagonist, swung into action rather late in the night. But evil was vanquished. Beyond that, "I'm not sure" does sort of sum it. Wonderful to see the (American) music of post-war Japan still in vogue. And it's melodies were apparently made for whistling by the owners of clothes cleaning shops.

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Toru Okada wrote:
Still, I did the right thing. I formally went to ask Kumiko's parents for her hand in marriage. To say that their reception of me was cool would be an understatement. The doors of all the world's refrigerators seemed to have been thrown open at once.

lol. Been there. Sort of.


p. 49, "High Towers and Deep Wells", The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Vintage International, NY, 1998, etc.

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Toru wrote:
My life was heading in new directions, that was certain. The cat had run away. Strange calls had come from a strange woman. I had met an odd girl and started visiting a vacant house. Noboru Wataya had raped Creta Kano. Malta Kano had predicted I'd find my necktie. Kumiko had told me I didn't have to work.

p. 83. not a bad summary of things so far. domo arigato gozaimashta.

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Finished book One of Three and on to book Two. Lieut. Mamiya's Manchurian story is not for those with a weak stomach.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

ikosmos wrote:

Finished book One of Three and on to book Two. Lieut. Mamiya's Manchurian story is not for those with a weak stomach.

yes same.

I think this is the first time I have actually skipped a page in a book (re:skinning). Although, I am not sure if it is because his writing is/was too vivid or just the thought of reading about this topic was more than I could handle. I think it might be the latter -- while I find him to be an incredibly descriptive writer and able to create vivid imagery, I am not sure if he evokes emotions within me or if it is the events themselves.