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Ch. 1 - Six fingers and four breasts 
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Post Ch. 1 - Six fingers and four breasts
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle

Haruki Murakami
Chapter One, Six fingers and four breasts



Thu Jun 03, 2010 7:33 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Six fingers and four breasts
Within the first few pages of this novel, I was hooked. There is a mysterious feel about it that makes me want to read on. Murakami is a good story teller, I can see the foundation he is forming for the rest of the novel, and I suspect it will be full of surprises.

Here is a good link to learn more about Haruki Murakami.

http://www.murakami.ch/main_3.html



Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:23 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Six fingers and four breasts
I really like the opening of the book. The cooking spaghetti and the music really define the moment for me - very surreal and very normal at the same time. A lot of the recurring ideas of the novel are brought up right away, like the missing cat, and the idea that the narrator doesn't exactly know what he wants from life. I think the narrator's search for identity is a big part of this novel.


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Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:46 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Six fingers and four breasts
Yes, Murakami is a great story teller. The first chapter, as short as it is, sets the tone for the rest of the novel. Murakami actually keeps his readers interested in what are actually the mundane happenings of ordinary life. Then he springs the unexpected and truly surreal events on us. I'm glad we are reading this.


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Last edited by GaryG48 on Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:56 am
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Post Is Wind-up pomo?
Is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle post-modern lit? Conventional wisdom is that it is hard to define pomo lit. I took the attributes from Wikipedia, let’s see how Wind-Up stacks-up.

Lack of logical coherence in narration—There is more coherence here than in most pomo

Lack of formal plot—There is no formal plot in the traditional sense of “plot.”

Lack of regular time sequence—Yes, jumps around in time from chapter to chapter

Characters are not psychologically explained--Yes

Pastiche has lost its humor and is therefore incapable of satire—No attempt at satire that I can see

Not Grand Narrative, everything is local—Yes. References to “outside world” are related to local setting

No inherent meaning (or reader supplied meaning)—Yes

I will elaborate as we move forward—I don’t want to spoil anything; part of the wonder of this book is wondering. I will point out, however, that the single most defining attribute of pomo is missing here; there is no denigration of Western values or of straight, white, Euro-American men. In fact, the protagonist, a Japanese man in Japan eats lunch at Dunkin’ Donuts—how “Western" can you get?” Were there really Dunkin’ Donuts Shops in Japan in the 1960’s?


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Thu Jun 03, 2010 9:24 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Six fingers and four breasts
It's important to remember that this is a Japanese book - in some ways things are backward. While most North American or European writers would criticize Western ideals, Murakami does the opposite by criticizing (or at least calling attention to) Eastern ideals. I would imagine that his numerous western references add to the surreality for Japanese readers. The main societal value I see him criticizing is the material obsession of capitalist countries - something I would say that is something true in both North America and in Japan.

As to the "lack of logical coherence in narration", the pomo books that I have happened across have been fairly reasonable. Though perhaps I've read too many and my definition of what is logical has become more flexible than it ought! I am comparing this book to books I've read by Vonnegut, DeLillo, Auster, and Pamuk, all authors listed on the wiki page for postmodern literature.

I can see why pomo is so hard to define when even acclaimed pomo authors don't seem to fit the mold. The wiki page lists many subtypes of the genre, but to me the main theme in all pomo books is an edge of surreality. I use the word "edge" very deliberately. The surreal nature of these books makes the characters and stories stand out in a very different way. I think Murakami would fall into the Magic Realism type of Postmodern literature, definitely along the more surreal line, but still with characters and plot that follow their own internal logic, if not the exterior logic of reality.


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Thu Jun 03, 2010 11:53 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Six fingers and four breasts
Theomanic wrote:
The wiki page lists many subtypes of the genre, but to me the main theme in all pomo books is an edge of surreality. I use the word "edge" very deliberately. The surreal nature of these books makes the characters and stories stand out in a very different way. I think Murakami would fall into the Magic Realism type of Postmodern literature, definitely along the more surreal line, but still with characters and plot that follow their own internal logic, if not the exterior logic of reality.


I have about 60 pages left to read to finish the novel. I am dying to find out how, or if, the tensions are resolved.

To take your points in reverse order. There is a kind of internal consistency within each of the three “books” as well as another kind of consistency across the three books. It took me a while to realize such consistency existed as I was applying “modernist” standards to this pomo work. No question Murakami uses Magic Realism. On first reading I didn’t get that it was the key technique though. I would have said the book is primarily surreal. It helped me to follow the “action” by keeping a mental picture of items on a hearth “melting” toward the ground.

I still have a lot to learn about reading pomo lit. Murakami makes it easier because he is such a good story teller that I like his characters and I care about what happens to them.


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Thu Jun 03, 2010 1:21 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Six fingers and four breasts
GaryG48 wrote:
I have about 60 pages left to read to finish the novel. I am dying to find out how, or if, the tensions are resolved.



And now I have finished. Those last 60 pages make all the difference!

Everyone, please, please, please read this book. Keep an open mind, or don't--you are still going to love it.
I have three more books to finish for book groups this month then I'm off to read the rest of Murakami.


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Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:42 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Six fingers and four breasts
Haha Gary - glad you liked it. I'll be posting all the chapters this weekend - my boyfriend currently has my copy in California so I don't have one to get the info from. Though as I recall there are like 80 chapters. I may just post in groups of 5 or somesuch.

Does this mean you now disagree with the statement that postmodern literature is for people who don't like reading? :)


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Fri Jun 04, 2010 9:27 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Six fingers and four breasts
Theomanic wrote:
Does this mean you now disagree with the statement that postmodern literature is for people who don't like reading? :)


Hum, maybe "MOST postmodern literature is for people who don't like reading." :D

I always liked Garcia Marquez. I did not think of him or Toni Morrison's Beloved as pomo (but Jazz definitly is). I see most people consider Magic Realism pomo so I am in the minority here.

I am still not ready for Pynchon or DeLillo. Maybe after I learn more about pomo from this forum.


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Fri Jun 04, 2010 10:41 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Six fingers and four breasts
Just finished reading this chapter. It has the same feel about it like "Sophie's Choice" with the first person narrator.

I also like the way the urban figures in this chapter: the references it makes to a world where space is at a premium to telephonic sex. It is also a world whose culture is not strictly historical - I mean, here you have a Japanese man cooking spaghetti while listening to western music and it isnt as simple as that - is it? - there is also the question of tone, of style that makes it, perhaps more accessible. But I dont want to get ahead of myself. Lets read it further.



Fri Jun 04, 2010 11:52 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Six fingers and four breasts
Hah - interesting! Right now I am about half way through reading "Sophie's Choice". I can see what you mean, though I'd not noticed it myself. Something about the first person perspective, though there is still an invisible distance between the reader and the narrator. I think of Kafka and his tendency to alienate his reader but I don't think that is exactly the same thing.


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Sat Jun 05, 2010 12:01 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Six fingers and four breasts
Hello Theomanic:

Wow, you have done a great job posting the chapters in "Wind Up"! Thank you Theo for being the discussion leader!

Off topic, but;
I wanted to ask you something, I know I said that I have never read anything by Murakami, but now I'm not so sure. I read a novel not too long ago by a Japanese author about Hiroshima and the bombing. This novel was so well written, that when the bomb hit, the author discribed it in an almost poetic way. I remember reading those passages about the bombing more than once, more than twice, it was so subtle. Does this sound familiar to you at all? Has Murakami written a novel about Hiroshima? After reading a good portion of "Wind Up", this novel reminds me of his style of writing.

Boy, I need to organize my books. The stacking of books all over my house method is not working. I cannot find the book I am asking you about, although I know I own it.



Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:04 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Six fingers and four breasts
I see quite few posts on this book discussion, I'd like to join but unfortunately my book still has not arrived from Amazon (tapping fingers). So maybe I'll "join" in July if folks are still around.



Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:09 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Six fingers and four breasts
I'm sure we'll all still be here Giselle, no worries! I look forward to hearing another perspective on this novel. :)


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Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:18 pm
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