The cat goes missing and so does everything else in Toru Okada’s life. As the Wind-Up bird starts the day, the Chronicles begin.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a three-part epic telling the tale of Okada’s desperate struggle to find something. It starts with a cat, but there is also the search for a job, a purpose, and his wife. It all sounds very exciting, but the actual events typically tend to involve sitting around or talking to someone. The essence is of the mundane, but it feels like this mundane has been captured in a jar and put on display to showcase the dreamy trappings which enlighten the seemingly bog standard segments of living. The book dips into people watching, war stories and loss, with meaning and symbolism delivered through each action and each new character offers some fresh surprise to the unravelling events. Who thought chapter after chapter of a man sitting in a well could end up being such a page turner?
But The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle comes to a grinding halt in the last third. The story becomes unfocused with older characters tossed aside, and the story is then delivered through letters, articles and a great big heap of vagueness. It’s rather disjointed, and the events Okada partakes in are so loosely realised to the reader that the care and emotion developed earlier starts to dry up. It spends so much time wading through the mind, it goes too far in, leaving everyone else in the dark Okada loves to drown in so much. And so the Wind-Up bird stops calling.