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Book 2, Ch. 5 - Eternal Half-Moon 
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Post Book 2, Ch. 5 - Eternal Half-Moon
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Haruki Murakami

Book 2, Chapter 5
Views of Distant Towns / Eternal Half-Moon / Ladder in Place


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Mon Jul 12, 2010 9:12 am
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Post Re: Book 2, Ch. 5 - Eternal Half-Moon
I don't know if I would want to wait for the light in the well after Lt. Mamiya's letter. He said it destroyed his life, left him a hollow person. I get the impression Toru doesn't feel he has a lot to lose.

Side note: The first time I read this book, I'd not yet seen The Ring. Now that I have I find this scene infinitely more disturbing!


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Mon Jul 12, 2010 9:40 am
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Post Re: Book 2, Ch. 5 - Eternal Half-Moon
Theomanic wrote:
I don't know if I would want to wait for the light in the well after Lt. Mamiya's letter. He said it destroyed his life, left him a hollow person.


I got the same impression Theo. You would think a bit of sunshine in a dark hole would bring some comfort, but in this case, the light shines of reality, and that reality is difficult to look at. Closing eyes to the brutal reality the Japanese experienced may be preferable than to deal with the pain. But, if you do not truly feel reality, that can make you feel hollow inside. It may have been this lack of feeling, which produced a hollowness inside that Lt. M. felt destroyed his life.

This is an interesting part of the book. The light made him feel numb, this is something one of the sisters said as well. Everything physically hurt this sister, but while attempting suicide, she became numb, she felt nothing at all. I'm still pondering this. The idea that Lt. M felt numb while in the light, where everything was clear is disturbing. I get the feeling that Lt. M. may represent the Japanese who witnessed so many atrocities, that they became numb to them. And Lt. M. while experiencing the same emotion was appalled by it. It must be very difficult to experience the pain Lt. M. felt while watching these atrocities, and living through one, but Lt. M may have felt that it was worse not to see reality and feel the pain associated with it. Is it better to feel numb while in full view of horrific situations, or is it better in the long run, to feel the pain. There are many characters walking around this book who feel numb and hollow.

This is where the water theme comes crashing in. The well, once hollow becomes flooded with water. And water can represent life. Life in all its beautiful and horrendous aspects.

This reminds me of inner city kids from Philly who are shot and killed in their own neighborhoods. There is a sense of numbness, a vaneer, that may help people cope with tragedies. But until you open your eyes to reality, feel the pain, nothing will change, and at worst, these tragedies may be forgotten. Lt. M. wrote these tragedies down, I don't think he wanted them to be forgotten, he may have wanted someone to see the light, feel the pain, and to survive drowning while experiencing reality, no matter how ugly it can be.



Mon Jul 12, 2010 11:31 am
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Post Re: Book 2, Ch. 5 - Eternal Half-Moon
Yes, our author seems to have found a way to represent the effects of horror that works in both the Occidental and Oriental worlds. The first time I read this part of the book I was still telling myself not to push too hard looking for symbols. After I read the ending of the book, I went back and saw much here that I had missed. That is the biggest lesson I learned about PoMO fiction from this book, the novelist's tools are the same as the modernists, metaphor, symbol, foreshadowing, suspense, and so forth.


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Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:48 pm
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Post Re: Book 2, Ch. 5 - Eternal Half-Moon
GaryG48 wrote:
That is the biggest lesson I learned about PoMO fiction from this book, the novelist's tools are the same as the modernists, metaphor, symbol, foreshadowing, suspense, and so forth.


Hello Gary, you have mentioned post modern fiction several times, and I am interested to know your thoughts on post modern fiction, and what your interpretation of it is. Also, could you give me some examples of PoMo authors. Now, I have not read much post modern fiction, that I am aware, (its possible I have read more, but have not been aware of it at the time) but I have read "The Crying of Lot 49" six times, and each time, I find something new. Yes, the plot is sporadic, and the sentences don't have much structure, but everything in that book means something, oftentimes, more than just one thing. Every word is carefully placed. I read "The Crying of Lot 49" so many times, it finally lead me to Star Trek. Actually, the star ship Enterprise was manufactured by the same company mentioned in not only "Crying", but "Gravity's Rainbow" as well, so there is some connection.

I really like the writing style of Haruki Murakami who is considered a PoMo author, and I would like to read more. Any insight into the writing style of the PoMo novel and suggestions would be appreciated.

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Mon Jul 12, 2010 8:35 pm
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Post Re: Book 2, Ch. 5 - Eternal Half-Moon
I think you're very right, Suzanne. Reading Murakami's works has helped me understand some of the difficulty the people of Japan must have in accepting their wars and role in history. Honestly I have never considered such a thing before. The numbness Lt. Mamiya feels is surely representational of the Japanese people. Hmmmm.....


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Post Re: Book 2, Ch. 5 - Eternal Half-Moon
Hi Suzanne,

My experience with American PoMo fiction has not been good. I did not like Crying of Lot 49, Waiting for Sheetrock, The Shipping News, or Gravity's Rainbow. I do like McCormick but his stuff is long on story and short on obscurity. That is why Murakami is such a pleasant surprise. This book does not answer all the questions it asks, and that is okay, but, unlike American PoMo fiction, the questions it asks are clear. Your dedication to Crying is admirable. And I know my opinion about it is in the minority.

My personal test for any work of art is "is the effort I must make to make meaning from it worth it?" So, for example, I read Wolfe, who is harder than any of the American PoMo books I mentioned, with relish because I always come away thinking I got more out of her works than I had to put in. I am going to let Wind-up cook in my head for a while but I look forward to reading it again. For the same reason AND because Murakami is such a good story-teller.

I mentioned before, I have a friend who teaches lit at the local community college. He says, "post-modern books are written for people who don't like to read." I have amended his statement to: "American post-modern . . . ."

Almost forgot, you asked for examples of PoMo authors: Anne Proulx, Don Delillo, Cormac McCarthy, Paul Astor, David Guterson (although Snow Falling of Cedars isn't all that bad, just slow to develop), Ha Jin.


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Last edited by GaryG48 on Tue Jul 13, 2010 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Jul 13, 2010 4:26 pm
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Post Re: Book 2, Ch. 5 - Eternal Half-Moon
I quite liked "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy, and "Moon Palace" from Paul Astor. I've a couple more Astor books on my shelf that I'm looking forward to reading. I tried to read "Underworld" by DiLillo but I had a really hard time with it. However, that was ten years ago, and since then I've read "The Body Artist" by him which I found interesting, though I don't know if I particularly liked it or not! :) I intend to try "Underworld" again some time... Harold Bloom likes it, surely that means something.

Murakami is different from these authors in many ways, just as a noir detective story is quite different from a Sue Grafton novel - being in the same category of fiction doesn't mean all that much but a similarity in theme, I think. Styles can vary so much... and also, Murakami is a magic realist writer, and so it would be more fair to compare him to other magic realist authors. I think of Milan Kundera primarily, but I have heard of other authors such as Günter Grass and Jorge Luis Borges, who straddle the border between PoMo writing and Magic Realism. Another Japanese writer who has post-modern and also magic realism elements in his stories is Kobo Abe, but he's not for the faint of heart! After reading "The Box Man" I had no idea which characters existed or were projections of the main character, or if in fact that main character even existed! Talk about an unreliable narrator...


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Post Re: Book 2, Ch. 5 - Eternal Half-Moon
GaryG48 wrote:
Almost forgot, you asked for examples of PoMo authors: Anne Proulx, Don Delillo, Cormac McCarthy, Paul Astor, David Guterson (although Snow Falling of Cedars isn't all that bad, just slow to develop), Ha Jin.


Wow, I must really like PoMo fiction because Proulx, Delillo, McCarthy, Jin, and of course, Virginia are some of my favorite authors. Virginia Woolf is considered PoMo?

Delillo I did know about, it, I've always wanted to read "Underworld" a second time, but the length of it has put me off. But, talking about Delillo, have you read, "Libra"? I found this novel to be pretty straight forward, and more than a bit dissapointing, it is my least favorite of his novels.

Theomanic wrote:
Styles can vary so much... and also, Murakami is a magic realist writer, and so it would be more fair to compare him to other magic realist authors. I think of Milan Kundera primarily, but I have heard of other authors such as Günter Grass and Jorge Luis Borges, who straddle the border between PoMo writing and Magic Realism.


Magic Realism, I like this. Yes, I can see "Wind Up" in this catagory, and I think that Murakami can be compared to Gunter Grass, another one of my favorites. I would highly recomend "The Tin Drum". It is more complex than "Wind Up", certainly, but the theme of war is simular to "Wind Up", and the effects war has on the people who live through it can also be likened to "Wind Up". And of course, it is very magical. It would make for a great discussion. The movie "The Tin Drum" is also excellent. I will look forward to reading something by Milan Kundera in the near future.

I have never really delved into the different types of writing styles that I enjoy reading, I just know what I like. Thanks to both of you, you have given me something to look into in more depth. And it is a joy to discuss books with those who are so well read. :)



Tue Jul 13, 2010 10:00 pm
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Post Re: Book 2, Ch. 5 - Eternal Half-Moon
Suzanne wrote:
Wow, I must really like PoMo fiction because Proulx, Delillo, McCarthy, Jin, and of course, Virginia are some of my favorite authors. Virginia Woolf is considered PoMo?


I have never really delved into the different types of writing styles that I enjoy reading, I just know what I like. Thanks to both of you, you have given me something to look into in more depth. And it is a joy to discuss books with those who are so well read. :)


Sorry to be unclear, I cited Virginia Wolfe as a counter-example, a writer who is NOT post modern but is complex and "difficult." Wolfe is often used as an example of "high modernist" along with T.S. Eliot and James Joyce. If I ever have to pick a favorite novelist, it would be Wolfe. Just to continue my contrariness, I prefer Mrs. Dalloway to To the Lighthouse (but I really like them both).

The labels: realist, naturalist, modernist, post modernist, and so forth aren't important. They are just handles that help us talk about kinds of styles. For people like us, people who love to read, each novel or short story stands or falls on its own merit. So I should not be so surprised that I liked Wind-up so much--but I am.

It is off-topic but let me recommend Blood Meridian to anyone who likes McCarthy. It isn't as macho as some of his other novels but it is still a good story.


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Tue Jul 13, 2010 10:26 pm
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Post Re: Book 2, Ch. 5 - Eternal Half-Moon
I'll start up a thread where we can talk about this more in depth, if that's alright with you guys.


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Post Re: Book 2, Ch. 5 - Eternal Half-Moon
Theomanic wrote:
I don't know if I would want to wait for the light in the well after Lt. Mamiya's letter. He said it destroyed his life, left him a hollow person. I get the impression Toru doesn't feel he has a lot to lose.

Side note: The first time I read this book, I'd not yet seen The Ring. Now that I have I find this scene infinitely more disturbing!


I agree, Toru feels he has little to lose. This guy has completely and thoroughly lost his way and he has handed over 'control' of his life to others. The 'interview' with Noburu Wataya and Ms. Kano regarding his wife and now in these chapters the jeopardy of sitting at the bottom of a well with the ladder in the hands of May Kasahara are pretty good illustrations of this point. He does not even asked May to lower the ladder despite his initial panic when he discovered it missing, he seems oddly resigned to his fate. The control she exerts by opening and shutting the well, and either allowing light or creating complete darkness, is an amazing manipulation of Toru and the 'thinking' he is trying to do. She even tries to tell him what to think about. But he is asking for this sort of treatment because he has given up control of his life. In a sense, he is missing from his own life, missing like his cat and his wife. And really, if he is missing, he can't expect his cat and wife to stay around. :P



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Post Re: Book 2, Ch. 5 - Eternal Half-Moon
I liked The Road too; I like all of Cormac's books, even if some of it is terribly violent.

The only one I wouldn't go back and read again is Blood something or other . . . I've forgotten what it's called.

That, btw, was well said - Toru seems to be 'missing' from his own life.



Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:10 am
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