The Wind-up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami

TWUBCOn the face of it, Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicle seems a fairly innocent and quirky coming-of-age story; an earnest yarn about a passive, unemployed waster who only realises the true value of life and love (etc.) when his wife leaves him, an old friend dies, and his, er, cat disappears (what is it with Murakami and disappearing cats?).  But even the most superficial reading will soon reveal a cliché-riddled and structurally confusing mess of a book populated by inconsistent and ungraspable characters whose various motivations, behaviours and decisions are just completely baffling.  Worst of all, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is underpinned by the most appalling misogyny, reinforced by a fetishistic presentation of violence and a dismissive treatment of rape.  It’s a male power fantasy that lamely attempts to justify itself by gradually exposing all of its female characters as adulteresses, pathological liars and manipulators, as if in some way this validates the male-gazey, objectifying and frankly gross way the book presents women.

It begins well enough; protagonist Toru Okada – a polite, shy, loving but unambitious sort – is introduced living in suburban Tokyo with his wife Kumiko and cat Noburo Wataya.  Soon both wife and cat mysteriously vanish from Toru’s life, and what follows is an increasingly confusing sequence of events interspersed with cod-philosophical musings on, for example, the transitory nature of love, Japanese consumerism, and the modernist quest to find meaning in an increasingly homogenised world.  Punctuating the mundane, kitchen sink-ness of the runaway wife plot are some slightly more “weird” (a favourite adjective of Murakami’s) events: mysterious phone calls, visits from people with access to information they shouldn’t reasonably be expected to have access to, occasional prophesies from old, wisened herbalists etc..  It’s the sort of trendy, surreal-lite kind of stuff that literary hipsters dine out on.

The prose, meanwhile, is characteristically understated and blunt; there’s little in the way of lyricism, but the matter-of-factness of tone is perfectly charming, and the frequent off-tangent ramblings and numerous adjacent references to classical music and food preparation give the writing an identity truly its own.  The clipped, simple sentences and the author’s reluctance to indulge in polysyllabic words lend great pace to the narrative, and I found myself turning pages at a pretty good whack.

It’s not long, however, before this quirky and amiable tone is subsumed by a more sinister penchant for titillation, exploitative quasi-pornographic writing and a truly unbelievable description of one woman’s sexual “awakening” (more on this later).  Toru’s investigations into the whereabouts of his missing cat lead him to recruit the services of Malta and Creta Kano: sisters who offer a sort of life-coaching-cum-spiritualism advice service.  During Toru’s first meeting with Malta, she describes the rape of her younger sister at the hands of Toru’s brother-in-law.  This long passage of direct speech is constantly interrupted by copious descriptions of Malta’s breasts, the shape of her buttocks as discernible through her dress, the movements of her tongue as she speaks etc. and etc.  Malta is recounting an act of monstrous sexual assault, meanwhile the author’s gaze (and by proxy the reader’s) is focusing on her body.  It seems that while Murakami is attempting to elicit an emotionally sympathetic response in his readers, he is at the same time trying to… turn them on.  The juxtaposition of a distressing rape confessional with constant descriptive asides about the speaker’s body is unsettling in the extreme, denigratory towards women and patronising to the reader; as if the only way Murakami can hold our attention during what should be one of the book’s more difficult, more emotionally demanding scenes is to make cheap appeals to our sex drives.  I say ‘our’; of course the writing is actually targeting a very specific readerly demographic: probably young, definitely straight, men.  Murakami lets it be known in no uncertain terms who he wants reading his book. The overall impression of the scene is this: “yeah, her sister was raped: but phwoar!”

There’s no saving grace; this contrasting placement of rape confession and perving is not trying to make some larger, over-arching thematic or structural point: there’s zero nuance at play here, and suggestions that this scene is meant, in some way, to tell us something about Toru as a character are, I feel, generous in the extreme, as Toru’s behaviour is completely at-odds with his pre-established personal concern for sympathy, kindness and respect.

And unfortunately this is not an isolated example; there isn’t a single female character who isn’t first introduced (and then meticulously described) in terms of her physical characteristics.  Of course this isn’t by any means unusual – writers have to paint their pictures – but the descriptive focus of The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is distinctly sexual and, I might add, this is a narrative idiosyncrasy that does not apply to any of the book’s male characters.

To return to the aforementioned “sexual awakening”, then.  At about mid-way through the book, the rape of Creta Kano is described for a second time, only now it has been re-evaluated not as rape “per se” (Todd Akin, anyone?), but as a kind of re-birth for the victim.  I shit you not.  Creta takes great pains to describe herself as a previously numb and empty shell, devoid of all passion and emotion; literally incapable of feeling.  All of this changes when she is raped [[and as a note, the word ‘rape’ mysteriously vanishes from the text at this point – whatever it is that happened, both narrator and characters stop calling it ‘rape’; it’s now just sex, or whatever]].  Creta Kano, upon being raped, undergoes a miraculous transfiguration and is now capable of love, compassion, anger, happiness – why, the whole gamut of regular human emotions! Now that she’s been “made to feel such intense sexual pleasure” she undergoes a “gigantic physical change” and an “escape from [her] profound numbness”.  What was initially described as a rape becomes, without any pretext, explanation or logic, some kind of sexual rite of passage requisite for any woman to truly become able to experience proper emotion.  This is reiterated later, too, when Toru’s wife Kumiko writes a cold and uncaring letter to him in which she confesses to months of promiscuous adultery (over which she has “no sense of guilt”, of course) with men she doesn’t even like, but which sex enables her to finally enter the world of stable, adult emotional life.  The Wind-up Bird Chronicle offers a “literary” (word used in the loosest possible way) equivalent of the macho cliché “what she really needs is a good seeing to”.

The conception of women as numb homunculi or empty shells incapable of feeling until true emotion is fucked into them at the behest of men’s generous cocks is just… well… the word offensive doesn’t quite seem to cut it.  The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is founded upon a deep structured misogyny, and any reading that doesn’t interpret the book in this way would be very forgiving indeed.

Of course, no journey into the finer points of what it means to be human would be complete without our hero having lots of no-strings sex with beautiful women – but there’s a problem here, too: our hero Toru is married, and Murakami has already established that adultery is wrong. The solution? Dream sex! You’ve never heard of it? Throughout the novel Toru has multiple sexual encounters with women in his dreams – but these are no mere wet dream fantasies: the women in question experience everything, but in some mutual otherland or dreamscape rather than the real world.  Imagine that shared dreaming stuff from Inception, only with lots more sex, and you’ll get the idea.

Essentially, dreamsex is a mechanism employed by Murakami to exonerate his hero from any accusations that he is committing adultery (which would reduce him to the same moral level as the other adulterers in the novel –all, by the way, female) while at the same time enabling him to screw all of the women he desires.  The point of all this dreamsex is narratively incomprehensible, seeming to serve no purpose in the wider plotting of the novel, nor in its emotional intricacies, as Toru, remember, is supposedly a man broken by the abandonment of his wife.  We must conclude, then, that the dreamsex serves no other function than to titillate the reader by breaking up the monotony of what would otherwise be a primarily thoughtful and philosophical rumination on the agony of love.  A kind of bribe to maintain our interest, treating the reader with the same disdain for our attention spans that T.V. and film producers have for their audiences’: keep the action and the sex frequent, lest we give the impression that this is a work of cohesion and depth.

The preposterous height of these non-sequitur titillations, if you will, occurs at around the three-hundred-and-fifty page mark, when Toru picks up a garden hose and is propositioned by a bikini clad sixteen-year-old school girl:

“Would you spray me with that? It’s sooo [sic] hot! My brain’s going to fry if I don’t wet myself down.”

It was warm and limp. I reached behind the bushes and turned on the tap. At first only hot water that had been warmed inside the hose came out, but it cooled down until it was spraying cold water. […] I aimed a good, strong spray at her. I looked at [her] body, hardly covered by her bikini.  She was sixteen years old, but she had the build of a girl of thirteen or fourteen.

I hope by now that I’ve established that I’m not just being prudish: quite why this gratuitous scene (it goes on for several pages) is even in the novel is completely beyond me.

Anyway, you get the idea: it would do my review a disservice were I to list, verbatim, all such sequences in the novel. But over and over again in The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, women are routinely objectified, vilified and pacified by the actions of character, narrator, writer and, in a kind of gross by-proxy complicity, reader.

Elsewhere the story unfolds in myriad confusing and messy ways until the final 200 pages: an entirely baffling and bizarre sequence of events that defies any logical explication and structure.  Can Toru melt through the walls of a well? Sure! Does the black mark that appeared on his face for no reason 400 pages ago similarly vanish without ceremony? You bet!  Does Toru follow a Tokyo stranger all the way home and beat the living shit out of him with a baseball bat in a superfluously violent scene that undermines everything Murakami has heretofore done to establish his character? YES!  I’ve read various internet reviews/commentaries/forums in which critics have attempted to paste some philosophical or moral reasoning over the book’s nonsensical events, but very little actually seems to stick.  I’ve enjoyed novels by Murakami before (Kafka on the Shore and After Dark I thought were pretty good), and taken pleasure in the obvious fact that he doesn’t plan before writing (he’s admitted it, too), but The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is just surreal for surreal’s sake; a trendy misappropriation of post-structuralist genre proclivities that captures much of the style of the continental philosophical novels that Murakami is clearly aping, but none of the depth.

So, no redeeming qualities then? Well, Toru’s neighbour May Kasahara is a wonderful character: playful, puzzling-but-not-in-a-maddening-way, idiosyncratic in speech and morally aware of her own past mistakes and limitations. It’s unfortunate that about mid-way through the novel, then, Toru and May are separated and reduced to corresponding via letter; at which point May loses much of her personality and quirkiness, as if once May is out of Toru’s arm’s reach, Murakami couldn’t be bothered with her anymore – it was the proximity of their relationship and the obvious contrasts therein that made the characters work together. Adding distance subtracts tension.

But that’s about it.  The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is a sinister, misogynistic book characterised by an overabundance of pointless sex and violence, coupled with an alarming treatment of female sexuality, emotion and morality.  The placing of long, rambling descriptions of the Japanese military efforts in Manchuko adjacent meaningless sequences of dreamsex is puerile, belittling and offensive.  Ostensibly the book is about the journey from numbness to feeling – but I just don’t see it; for me and my own journey reading this book, it was the other way around.

Tomcat.

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30 responses to “The Wind-up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami

  1. Wow, am I glad I didn’t get any of that when I read it, I just thought weird and even the strange phone calls didn’t seem real or genuine, maybe because subconsciously that would have been too distasteful, but all I can really say in this case is “ignorance really is bliss”. That propensity for some male authors to overwrite about sex, I skip over kind of cynically thinking, oh yeh, there’s the sex bit that’ll no doubt attract certain readers, but many of these encounters feel superficial so I don’t react to them as if they were written in a more realistic fashion. Interestingly in his most recent book, he’s created a female protagonist with male-like qualities, but again the sexual encounters are to titillate male readers I surmise.

    Stunning review Tomcat and so glad you had the courage to write it and put it out there. What are the continental philosophical type novels that you refer to?

    • I feel very undeserving of such nice words: but thanks nonetheless 🙂

      It’s a shame that you encounter a lot of male writers who over-write sex in a kind of male-gazey, titillating way. I see a lot of it, too, and took particular issue with it in TW-UBC. I’ve not read 1Q84 yet; it sounds interesting, but I think I’m going to give Murakami a break for a while…

      The sort of thing I mean by ‘continental philosophical novels’ are those modernist-lite, European books that usually focus on relationships, finding individuality in an increasingly homoginised world, love, self etc. Examples would be writers like Milan Kundera, Goethe, Pamuk, Proust, maybe Kafka. Apparently Murakami is a big fan of this stuff. Unfortunately, TW-UBC is a failed attempt to replicate the style of these writers. At least, that’s how it seems to me.

      Many thanks for reading and commenting.
      Tom.

  2. I’ve read a fair bit of Murakami, but never got anywhere with this one. I don’t recall the issues you raise, but I probably didn’t get far enough in to encounter them as I got bored quite quickly (which hasn’t happened to me with other Murakami’s).

    It felt bloated, which reading your review is a bit of a relief as it means I didn’t get to the elements you describe here. He’s written better, to put it mildly.

    • I’ve read three or four of Murakami’s, some of which I’ve very much enjoyed, and I think it’s this previous enjoyment that set me up to be especially disappointed with ‘The Wind-up Bird Chronicle’. Reading a terrible book is doubly gutting if you’ve enjoyed the writer’s work before, methinks.

  3. I couldn’t agree with your review more – it was precisely what I thought of the book. Repulsive and purile. Your review was wonderful though. Thank you, I will come back.

  4. If you were in front of me right now, I’d hug you.

    I abandoned this book, I didn’t like the character, the story. I was booored. I found Taru Okada “as swift as a mollusc”.

    PS: I like the tone of your entry, that you leave PC behind.

    • Many thanks. I was very worried when I posted this review, as I know ‘The Wind-up Bird Chronicle’ has some pretty passionate and ardent fans (why?!), so I was kinda expecting a bit of a backlash, but I feel validated by comments such as yours – so thanks :).

      As for the tone of my review: I know it’s pretty harsh and direct, but I feel that when it comes to calling-out problems such as this book’s, you should do so in no uncertain terms, so, again, thank you for the support.
      Tomcat.

      • Do you know the French equivalent to “to call a spade a spade”? It’s “to call a cat a cat”
        I t seems to me that it suits you 🙂

        • I did not know that. 🙂

          ‘Tomcat’ is the nickname I was given at University. I studied at a place called ‘St Catharine’s College’ which is colloquially known as ‘Catz’. My friends from other colleges would call me ‘Tom from Catz’ which eventually just got compounded to ‘Tomcat’ – hence the sobriquet, and the name for my blog. 🙂

  5. Blimey, I feel like I need to read this book again (not to get turned on and it didn’t the first time either thank you very much) because I feel like we read completely different books. I never spotted any of this, and neither did my book group – ha. Wish we had had you there, all those years ago.

    I had this book down as just another one of his wonderfully weird books, and now I feel a bit of a pervert. Especially seeing as the dreamsex thing also happens in Kafka on the Shore (which is my favourite Murakami, even though I love cats – yes more cats there disappearing and disembodied too) with a really icky twist, which oddly I found grimly fascinating and slightly titillating. I feel I may need a shower now, the look you are giving me through this comment while reading it is making me feel even grubbier. 😉

    As for rape in books, its a tricky one. I just read a book coming out in Feb that has a horrific rape in it, yet it is a very important part of the story and described in detail to horrify you not turn you on – well that is my thoughts. It is tricky. This same book also had decapitated heads with their own genitals in them, again horrific and grimly fascinating all in one… don’t you judge me. Ha!

    Great review as always. Sorry not said so sooner.

  6. Wow, I love Murakami and am glad I gave this review a read as I’ll be giving it a pass. I get no entertainment out of books that have rape scenes in them even when they are treated appropriately and are part of a greater redeeming narrative. Anything with any brutal sexuality turns me off, and I’m no prude either. I’ve heard enough concerns about Bacigalupi’s The Wind-Up Girl that I haven’t read it either even though he is a skilled author whose work I enjoy.

    I’ve passed on this one largely because of the length. I’m not a big fan of chunky books although I’ll read them from time to time. I’ve read Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, After Dark, After the Flood, and a couple other of his short story collections and I’ve enjoyed them all. Also read his nonfiction book on running and was impressed with it.

    • I agree with everything you say, and unfortunately ‘The Wind Up Girl’ does suffer from many of the problems that this book by Murakami does, only Bacigalupi’s book is much, much more explicit.

      I too loved ‘What I talk about when I talk about running’; I also quite liked ‘Kafka on the Shore’ and ‘After Dark’ – which liking, I think, set me up to be extra disappointed with this one.

      Many thanks for taking the time to read and to comment.
      Tomcat.

      • I read an interview with Bacigalupi once that led me to believe he had some misgivings about the subject matter in Wind Up Girl and all the praise the book was receiving. I know the world can be a brutal place and that fiction should not shy away from addressing that but I find far too often that those brutal/explicit sexual situations are not meant to serve some greater good but are in a story either to titillate or as some attempt at validating the ‘seriousness’ of the work.

  7. I have, but haven’t yet read, The Wind Up Girl. I hadn’t heard that it had these issues, just that it had been well received. What’s the problem with it? I’m a touch concerned now quite what kind of book I may have got.

    • It’s just alarmingly, disgustingly misogynistic, dismissive of rape, objectifying to women etc. and etc. I was worried I was being over-sensitive, but having had people agree with my review, I now feel justified. 🙂

  8. I teach 17 year olds that have a much better grasp of the novel than you have. Saying a novel is “rubbish” because you don’t understand it is pretty poor as far as criticism goes. The idea that its misogynistic is in no way born out by any of your criticisms. Creta’s revelation after rape is there to demonstrate just how utterly lost she was and is not there to justify the act. The figures involved are not heroes and nor are they painted as such. In the same way Mamiya’s reaction to the skinning is not a justification of torture. The “dreamsex” disturbs Toru and his need for Kumiko never diminishes. Sex is not actually sex but a metaphor for release, change and realisation. As for your criticism that it is “just surreal for surreal’s sake” clearly shows that you missed the entire point about what surrealism is all about. There are many many other points I could make but just thought I’d headline a few. Reconsider, its a great book when you do.

    • Hi Trawlings,

      It’s unfortunate that you don’t agree with my reading of TW-UBC; however, my analysis is in no way radical, unique or unusual – as I hope several of the comments above demonstrate-: there are many people who have deconstructed the novel in this way – both amateur and professional critics alike – and I consider it to be a valid reading.

      May I add that I find the tone of your comment to be very rude and condescending, and it baffles me why people feel the need to write such things to strangers online. The fact that you label an analysis of a text that differs your own reading as a failure of understanding is an unfortunate fallacy on your part, as surely reception aesthetics has taught us that radically different readings of a text can all be equally valid. This must be especially true of a novel with avant-garde or popular modernist leanings, such as this one? Perhaps it might be valuable for you to teach your students theories of the polyvalent interpretation of literary texts, without recourse to regressive or atavistic notions of critical “right” or “wrongness”?

      Furthermore, at no point do I call the book “rubbish”, and so you have misquoted me in this regard; similarly, I haven’t mentioned the skinning at any point in my review. It’s unprofessional of you to attack comments I haven’t made. In fact, I praised the book’s swiftness of tone and the early characterisation of May Kasahara, as well as the juxtaposition of some of its imagery.

      Finally, I should add that I use the term ‘hero’ in the literary-critical sense of meaning “main character”, not the popular, more morally-loaded way.

      Still, many thanks for taking the time to read my review and to comment.
      Best,
      Tom.

  9. Hi Tomcat,

    I definitely agree with many points you made, especially concerning the pervish and mosogynistic nature of the book. I enjoyed reading your interpretation very much and it triggered some serious reflection time for me and I came to the conclusion that maybe Murakami knew what he doing with the sexual titillation. Maybe if he was aiming at a certain demographic, young males as you mentioned, is it possible that he was poking fun at them? In much the same way as the hero of the book is sleepwalking and dreaming through his journey with an attitude of slight indifference, only feeling anything when it pertains to sex, we as the readers are doing the same through our own journey of reading the story and our journey in life. In this day and age, so many young people, and old for that matter, seemed to be void of any real human emotions and are only able to make connections through sexual encounters. Maybe the author had this in mind when writing. Just a thought. Thanks for a profoundly provocative review!

    • Hi,

      Many thanks for commenting – it’s always a buzz when somebody reads and enjoys one of my reviews. I had some anxieties uploading this one, as I know a lot of people are very passionate defenders of Murakami. I like your suggestions about the book’s tone echoing the experiences (or perceived experiences) of certain types of people. Something to think about if I ever re-read it.
      Thanks again for reading,
      Best,
      Tom.

  10. This is Murakami’s great novel. And simply it is an exegesis of pain. If you don’t get that you don’t get it.

  11. What a horribly moralistic disposition you have. A critique equivalent to a Daily Mail tirade about the dangers of listening to rap music. Meh.

  12. Tomcat:

    I gotta say I’m down with jrains28 and Nutmeg on this one.
    Did you skip the class on irony?
    Have you encountered an author who can actually execute it? (hint: yes you have)
    You’re telling me I’m supposed to side with our hero’s actions and perspective?
    Have you read Nabokov?
    “Ask yourself if the symbol you have detected is not your own footprint.”

    You, um, seem to have missed the point…

  13. Christ Tomcat, I love getting negative responses to my reviews, but thought out negative responses. The fans flocking to the book’s (quite unneeded, Murakami can hold his own should he wish to for some reason) defence here really could try a bit harder to rebut your points.

  14. Tom,

    I would like to respectfully disagree with your take on the book. I won’t go so far as to say you didn’t “get it” like the commenter above, but I do think you let your view that the book has a misogynistic bent get in the way of appreciating the nuances of the story. A few examples.

    Murakimi’s brilliance (am a passionate fan of his, I’ll get that out of the way off the top) in my opinion, is his ability to engage the reader in a surreal story as if he were simply describing the color of the grass. The sky is blue. He walked through a wall. The moon was full, he got cut in a dream but bled in real life.

    I find this style highly engaging and enables me to suspend disbelief and get sucked into the dreamworld he lays out where manskinners and rapists live in harmony with unemployed law clerks. He doesn’t endorse any of them — they just are.

    In fact, Noburu Wataya — the rapist — is portrayed as a profoundly evil man, one with a depth of power that wreaks havoc not only to the people in his life, but society at large. So while the rape scene may be uncomfortable, it is by no means an endorsement or intends to make light of the subject.

    I think Murakami’s description of certain details during the rape is just his style — he tells you what is going on in a very matter of fact way. It’s not meant to belittle or make light. Its blunt, it may be offensive, but this juxtaposition of stark reality with the unreal is exactly what makes his stories so captivating.

    Further, the rape of Creat Kano while she is working as a prostitute, and the way I read it, the importance of the rape itself is not physical but emotional — again going to show just how deep Wayata’s terrible powers go.

    Consider also the skinning scene. Talk about uncomfortable. But in the same way a movie director makes the viewer look at something uncomfortable or holds a long shot to the extreme (think Kubrik) to prove a point or to extract emotion and engage, Murakami makes you watch the skinning up close and personal. He isn’t endorsing torture, but using it to further the story.

    When you add it all up, there is mystery abound and the intertwining story-lines, however disjointed they may appear, make the reader think. Is Creta really Kumiko but from some altered reality? Is Boris really Wataya but from the past? (manskinner = rapist hardly seems misogynistic to me) Is Cinnamon the kid from the random story about the buried human heart?

    And is Malta and Creta’s father a past version of Toru?

    Not all these mysteries are solved in the end. And that’s what I love — real life doesn’t yield all the answers. Sometimes there are riddles left unsolved and that’s what makes things interesting.

    This is a mature book, to be sure, but I think if you can get past the events you find offensive, you’re rewarded with a deeper understanding of the story. You may still think the offensive parts overshadow any attempt at a deeper story, but you can at least see how the pieces of the book do work together.

    To get back to the skinning, the severity of the act and the graphic imagery set up the next scene where Mamiya is tossed into the well (the most important image in the book) where a beam of light sucks away his soul (to paraphrase).

    The reader is expected to believe that the well is some portal to another reality, or at the very least has the power to steal the meaning from a man’s life. In particular, we’re supposed to believe that some ordinary well in suburban Tokyo may be such a well. The only way that’s even remotely believable is if we are taught about the well’s power in a shocking scene (ie, right after the skinning).

    Imagine if the skinning scene had been replaced with a “simple” shooting. The well / light situation wouldn’t have held any weight or been believable. He set the scene with the skinning. It almost wouldn’t have made any sense otherwise.

    You note that the blue mark on Toru’s cheek appears and disappears without explanation. A more careful reading would show that the mark appears when he first does into the well and experiences the other world, and it goes away when he kills the figure in the hotel room, which corresponds with Wataya collapsing and going to the hospital.

    He gets the mark when he goes down the rabbit hole, and it disappears when he comes out. Its almost like a marker so the reader is aware to question whether what’s happening is real or not. Or to indicate that so long as the mark is there, expect the supernatural. Or to remind the reader that something evil took Toru’s wife away, and that he’ll go to the ends of the earth (and beyond) to get her back.

    You say the scene with Toru beating up the stranger with the bat undermines Murakami’s portrayal of the character. I disagree. I think it shows exactly how exasperated and lost he has become, that a non-violent, simple man would go to such extremes to follow a stranger then pummel him with a bat. It fits. Its gory but it fits.

    I could go on, but I hope you see my point.

    Its totally fine to disagree about the merits of a book, clearly you and I do in this case. But I believe that the graphic scenes add to the book’s depth and show the author’s ability to elicit a highly emotional response from the reader.

    I am glad to hear you have enjoyed Murakami’s other books (I think Kafka by the Shore is his best) and hope you’ll give him another shot.

    AJ

  15. You obviously don’t know anything about books or irony or whatever you’re trying to talk about. Pseudo-intellectual bullshit and PC hand-wringing crap.