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Ch. 3 - Sherbet Tone and Allen Ginsberg and the Crusaders 
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Post Ch. 3 - Sherbet Tone and Allen Ginsberg and the Crusaders
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Haruki Murakami

Chapter 3,
Sherbet Tone and Allen Ginsberg and the Crusaders / Malta Kano's Hat


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Last edited by Theomanic on Sat Jun 05, 2010 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.



Sat Jun 05, 2010 11:05 am
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Sherbet Tone and Allen Ginsberg and the Crusaders
I find here small mystery after small mystery. Where is his polka dot tie? How did Malta Kano recognize him in the busy cafe? Why does Malta feel she needs a fake name? What exactly does Malta do?

I particularly enjoy this descriptive phrase on Malta's hat in the photograph: "Again it was ominously mismatched with her outfit." Of all words, "ominously"?

There is some mention in this chapter on the restrictions of Japanese society: Toru's feeling of discomfort in his suit, his mention about how he would have gotten in trouble at work for wearing a nice tie, the fact that all the patrons in the tearoom were looking at them for doing something at all unusual.

What did you find significant in this chapter?


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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Sherbet Tone and Allen Ginsberg and the Crusaders
Not only did Malta recognize Toru Okada without the tie, but she tells him where to find the missing tie. I’m starting to feel that these women are “gas lighting” Okada.

Water is introduced in this chapter, another theme that weaves in and out of many of the chapters and Malta discusses water and the “elements of the body”. She makes an interesting remark, “I cannot explain to you in detail how all these circumstances are related. It would be a very long and very complicated story, and although I mean no disrespect to you when I say this, it would be virtually impossible for you at the stage, Mr. Okada, to attain an accurate understanding of the true meaning of that story, which involves a world that we deal with on a professional basis” (pg 42). This statement is pretty ominous.

It suggest to me that one, the people he meets and what they say are all related and two, that there is a big picture to this story, something important that Okada is not ready to accept or understand and that he has started a long journey, and three, he will be uncovering a world or life that is different and strange to him, or, a truth that he is incapable of understanding. But I can’t help thinking that this strange and different “world” or, “truth” is right in front of him, he just can’t see it, so the big picture is being cut up in little pieces for him to fit together, and us, as readers take the journey with him, and try to put the pieces together. But unlike other mysteries, I am enjoying the ride and trying not to outwit Murakami, because I don’t think I can.

What I find interesting is the role reversal of husband and wife. I can’t imagine that Komiko is happy with this. The passages about the beef and peppers had me laughing hysterically. There is a stigma in American culture about a man who relies on his wife for money, this stigma can only be intensified in the Japanese culture. Okada has taken on the role of wife very well. He makes dinner, gives her a beer, and listens to her day. But, I can’t help wondering why Okada quit his job. I am nagged with the feeling that there is something more to that story than he is letting on, maybe it is part of the “world” or “truth” that he is not ready to accept.

I am reminded of Peter Straub’s, “Ghost Story” while reading this. While reading “Ghost Story”, all the pieces are right there in front of you, but the reader is confused as to what is happening, until bam! It hits you in the face. I’ve said this before, Murakami is a great story teller, he is patient and his words are deliberate. He is my favorite type of writer. I feel like I am lost in the woods, Murakami is leading me deeper and deeper into the dark wilderness, but Murakami is a talented guide, and I trust him, I follow him blindly.



Mon Jun 07, 2010 6:53 am
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Sherbet Tone and Allen Ginsberg and the Crusaders
Suzanne wrote:
I am reminded of Peter Straub’s, “Ghost Story” while reading this. While reading “Ghost Story”, all the pieces are right there in front of you, but the reader is confused as to what is happening, until bam! It hits you in the face. I’ve said this before, Murakami is a great story teller, he is patient and his words are deliberate. He is my favorite type of writer. I feel like I am lost in the woods, Murakami is leading me deeper and deeper into the dark wilderness, but Murakami is a talented guide, and I trust him, I follow him blindly.


This is the chapter where I started telling myself to remember, this is pomo, don't try to find symbols, don't expect answers to any of those questions. In short, I did not trust Murakami the way Suzanne is trusting him. Dear readers, Suzanne is right and I was wrong, 'nuff said.


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Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:44 am
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Sherbet Tone and Allen Ginsberg and the Crusaders
Theomanic wrote:
How did Malta Kano recognize him in the busy cafe?


There is only one logical explanation to this question.



Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:28 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Sherbet Tone and Allen Ginsberg and the Crusaders
Suzanne wrote:
Theomanic wrote:
How did Malta Kano recognize him in the busy cafe?


There is only one logical explanation to this question.


Welllll.... yes, that is true. However! I would put forth that you can't assume in this book that the only logical explanation is the correct one. Obviously, the only way she would know him (logically) is if she knew what he looked like already, but that just spurs more questions: Why did she imply she didn't know? How does she know? Did Kumiko show her a picture for some reason? Why would Kumiko show Malta a picture of her husband when Malta is looking for a cat? If not a picture, how else would Malta know? Has she been spying on him? And so it goes... and that is assuming we are accepting a logical reason. Maybe Malta knows him because she can sense his energy as a man who has lost his cat. Maybe Toru has an aura about him that is unique and only Malta can see it. Who knows?


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Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:24 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Sherbet Tone and Allen Ginsberg and the Crusaders
Quote:
What I find interesting is the role reversal of husband and wife. I can’t imagine that Komiko is happy with this. The passages about the beef and peppers had me laughing hysterically. There is a stigma in American culture about a man who relies on his wife for money, this stigma can only be intensified in the Japanese culture. Okada has taken on the role of wife very well. He makes dinner, gives her a beer, and listens to her day.


Yes. I had a hint of that when Komiko mentions it in the first chapter as something she might even end up liking. Further, this job she holds is getting demanding everyday and she is sure to resent the fact that she cant give it up or afford to give it up like her husband.

Here again, the missing cat is somehow the skewed center of the story. It has been for the last three chapters and by now you know something is up with it (never mind that the blurb at the back of the book says so!)



Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:46 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Sherbet Tone and Allen Ginsberg and the Crusaders
What do you guys think of the cover? Why do you think the bird is upside down?



Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:43 am
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Sherbet Tone and Allen Ginsberg and the Crusaders
The cover on the edition I am reading is a stylized extreme close-up of the left side of a bird’s face. The bird’s eye fills about 1/3 of the space on the front. The image may qualify as minimalism but it is not surreal. I guess the book designer only read a synopsis of the story and got that it was pomo but missed the surreal emphasis.

The picture of a cover on this message board, the upside down bird, is more realistic (except it is upside down). I thought the bird was the winding knob on a clock that happened to be in that position.


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Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:05 am
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Sherbet Tone and Allen Ginsberg and the Crusaders
I really enjoy the cover at for Murakami's books. I find they're a good balance between realism and surrealism, just like his stories. Having said that, before I read his novels, I found his cover at a little bizarre. I guess I was really used to sci-fi and fantasy books with pretty obvious art. This is the title character, this is the Important Object they have, this is their sidekick, etc. That or something totally abstract, like some stripes or something. I think I've come a long way in appreciating cover art since then!


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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Sherbet Tone and Allen Ginsberg and the Crusaders
I've read 5 chapters of this book now and in some ways it is fulfulling my expectations for this style of (post-modern?) novel. There is the upside down bird on the cover and the chapter titles, odd and apparently disconnected, creating the suspicion in my mind that the author has other narratives at play here. I also expect neurotic characters and I'm seeing some measure of that (ie - the mysterious girl he meets in the alley and 'malta'). To me this suggests perception-misperception of reality, and the strangeness of defining what we think reality is.

On the cat - couple of thoughts - the cat is missing from the beginning but is a significant character, in a way, and contributes to the story moving forward (such as it does) - I think Murakami makes us feel like we know the cat even though it is missing. The search for the cat, in the alleyway, seems structured for meaning. The cat is missing but quite present in the story and is a huge concern for Kumiko (and hence her husband) and the alleyway is an abandoned strip of land serving no purpose but is still present, people seem to be stuck with it.

An aside - I went to an Allen Ginsberg poetry reading when I was a student, an odd coincidence but it was in the same time period that the author mentions, sometime in 78-79 .. and the main thing I can recall is that Ginsberg did a poem called "The Tiger", where he beat a drum at about heart rate and spoke in mind-breaths (as many words as he could get out before running out of air). Weird that his poem was about 'a cat'.



Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:55 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Sherbet Tone and Allen Ginsberg and the Crusaders
giselle wrote:
On the cat - couple of thoughts - the cat is missing from the beginning but is a significant character, in a way, and contributes to the story moving forward (such as it does) - I think Murakami makes us feel like we know the cat even though it is missing.


I agree with you giselle, I think the cat is very important, very symbolic. It may be possible that the cat symbolizes Kumiko. Kumiko is distressed about this loss and desperatly wants her husband to search and retrieve what has been lost. Murakami cleverly uses a cat, which has the ability to move about freely.

This novel builds upon itself, chapter by chapter. And as you get further into the book, you may find that your commment above has more meaning than you realize.



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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Sherbet Tone and Allen Ginsberg and the Crusaders
Suzanne wrote:
Not only did Malta recognize Toru Okada without the tie, but she tells him where to find the missing tie. I’m starting to feel that these women are “gas lighting” Okada.

Water is introduced in this chapter, another theme that weaves in and out of many of the chapters and Malta discusses water and the “elements of the body”. She makes an interesting remark, “I cannot explain to you in detail how all these circumstances are related. It would be a very long and very complicated story, and although I mean no disrespect to you when I say this, it would be virtually impossible for you at the stage, Mr. Okada, to attain an accurate understanding of the true meaning of that story, which involves a world that we deal with on a professional basis” (pg 42). This statement is pretty ominous.

It suggest to me that one, the people he meets and what they say are all related and two, that there is a big picture to this story, something important that Okada is not ready to accept or understand and that he has started a long journey, and three, he will be uncovering a world or life that is different and strange to him, or, a truth that he is incapable of understanding. But I can’t help thinking that this strange and different “world” or, “truth” is right in front of him, he just can’t see it, so the big picture is being cut up in little pieces for him to fit together, and us, as readers take the journey with him, and try to put the pieces together. But unlike other mysteries, I am enjoying the ride and trying not to outwit Murakami, because I don’t think I can.



Thanks Suzanne. My impression of Toru Okada is that he is a bystander in his own life who feels little or no inclination to deal with what confronts him. For example, I think it was his last conversation with Komiko before her disappearance, he refers to not knowing what his "image" is and that is an excuse for no pursuing any sort of work. He seems disconnected from reality and just waiting for things to happen for him. I think the story of Lieutenant Mamiya and his survival stands in stark contrast to the rather lame approach to life that Okada practices.

I see a possible symbolic connection (maybe a dotted line one) between the 'well' that Mamiya almost dies in and the water theme. His experience with the sun shining into the well for a few seconds each day and the way that made him feel at one with the universe suggests a quest for understanding of the fundamental elements of life or life forces. Perhaps this is Toru Okada's quest but at this point he is lamely sitting back and letting life happen around him.

The theme of fortelling the future and whether or not it is in one's favour to know the future and to know one's fate is prominent in this book. The scattered, fragmented structure of the novel suggests a fragmentation of characters and their lives and casts doubt on their future and perhaps questions the very notion that there is a future that can be told. The posthumous gift from Mr. Honda that turns out to be an empty box, after a huge build up, is suggestive of this.



Wed Jul 07, 2010 3:43 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Sherbet Tone and Allen Ginsberg and the Crusaders
Well, I sure don't know where this is going, but it's intriguing. I'm looking forward to listening again tomorrow night.

Thanks for choosing this book, folks.

Carly



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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Sherbet Tone and Allen Ginsberg and the Crusaders
I don't know exactly where you asked this, but here's something that impressed me that was said in these beginning chapters . . .

the minute you leave your house
all phones sound alike
from part 2


It's so true!



Sun Aug 01, 2010 11:03 pm
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