Dark, inter-twined narratives compose this epic from Murakami. The tale is of a normal man, nick named Mr Wind-Up Bird by a local girl, whose life takes a turn for the surreal when his cat goes missing, followed shortly thereafter by his wife, and the rest of his life as he knew it. From there Mr Wind-Up Bird keeps uses his faith in bringing his wife back to keep himself moving on, and in the process finds many other people to help, although never in any straightforward manner. Although sometimes slower in pace than his other books, Murakami keeps the plot moving forward while introducing other elements, somewhat akin to David Lynch without the damn fine coffee. A great book, although perhaps not the easiest Murakami to start with – perhaps Norwegian Wood is better if you’re a Murakami virgin.
Another random purchase when back in the UK, mainly due to its upbeat donut cover (why do British editions still have the best covers?). This book is an interesting blend of contempory fiction based in LA, with under-currents of many self-help books. The story follows the transition of the main character from recluse to being fully engaged with his life after a near death experience. Luckily for him he’s incredibly rich already, but those riches have come at the cost of living a life, so the story charts a trajectory that shows how having this money allows you to throw everything up in the air and see where it lands without worrying too much. Now that may sound like an un-sympathetic character, but surprisingly he’s not and the story rarely stops for long enough to indulge in any deep character analysis anyway as it’s a real page turner. It’s a great book, very up-beat and almost inspiring in the same manner as Celestine Prophecy can affect you. Having said that I’d feel more personally engaged with the protagonist if he’d affected his life and those around him without the benefit of all the money he’d built up.