I just finished The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami and found myself wandering through my mind just like what I do every time I finish his other books. I’m not a sharp reviewer or a good critic who judges the merits of literacy et cetera et cetera, but I know there’s something special about Murakami books. It’s just my subjective validation, of course, and it might be bias, but well, I’ll go on blabbering, okay.
The first time I hear the name Haruki Murakami was when I was in the high school. I saw Raditya Dika mentioned the name Murakami and his books in his blog and twitter. At that time, I was bored and in the need of new references, be it for reading, music, tv series, movies, and all, so I simply googled him up. The next thing I knew was I got attracted to his books. I searched all about him from one website to another, looking for some kind of opinions of which one of his books I should read first. It was Norwegian Wood, which others mentioned was the most realistic one among his novels. The rest were said involving surrealism and else, got me an impression that they were maybe the serious–and–deep–kind of books. Unfortunately, Norwegian Wood was out of stock in the bookstore. I finally decided to buy The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, along with The Catcher in The Rye by Salinger. Honestly I was not sure whether I would be able to read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle since it was a quite thick one and seemed absurd (the cover said it all) (and yes I sometimes judge a book by its cover). Plus, at that time I was not really used to reading novels in English. But I gave it a chance.
I started reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle but already stopped in the early pages. I don’t know, maybe I was just not ready yet or I found the vocabularies were abstruse (up till now, sadly). I never touched the book again and looking for his other books instead. Long story short, I got Norwegian Wood and started reading it right after finishing The Catcher in The Rye. Alas, I shouldn’t have done this. Both of them were very dark and gloomy, and I caught myself somewhat depressed after reading them. I remember I was puzzled when I arrived at the very last page of Norwegian Wood. It was like I had this urge to soon grab the phone and call Murakami to ask him so many questions (it applies equally to almost all of his works I’ve read).
Norwegian Wood itself was a gate for me to Murakami’s world. Eventually I read some of his other books and short stories, including The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which I’d abandoned for rather a long time. All of them have this particular tone. A special tone Murakami brings into his writings. The stories seem naturally flowing out from his mind and he elaborates it neatly I could feel the characters’ emotion linger in me. He could precisely describe the ordinary life his characters are living and turn them into a bizarre one, as if to let us know that universe indeed works in a strangely weird way. I am engrossed in his evocative words and mesmerised by the descriptions he gave, though it’s also enigmatic at the same time. I often find some passages I could really relate to. It’s like he smoothly puts into words what I feel deep down myself but couldn’t find a way to express it. It feels like I found myself in Murakami’s words. Like I finally could somehow fathom some parts of me I usually hardly could.
But I guess the after-effect of reading his books is not always pleasant, though. I spot myself questioning my very own existence in this cruel world and often feel kind of light depressed after that. I’m dwelling on all thoughts scattered in the strange dark labyrinth inside my mind, wandering here and there, looking for something I could firmly grasp. For some time, I will experience all the gloominess and aloofness and emptiness. Even somehow I sense that I am estranged for no apparent reasons. Just like his characters in nearly all his books. And this is what makes Murakami special, at least for me. He has got this power in his words to make his readers seeing through their lives, examining this thing called as self, contemplating even the tiniest part of anything coming through the mind, and jumping from one thought to another to find whatever it is that has been sought. It drains the energy, yes, it does. But after that, by any means, I will find myself not the same person again as I am before. By that time, the feeling of detachment is still there, but it doesn’t really matter anymore, because then I’ve come to realise, we got to have the right amount of it to keep us being sane, to have full control of one’s own mind.
I have barely found other writers whose writings could do this to me.
P.S: I salute his translator. I will not understand the essence of the story if it’s told in its original language yet I could have a glimpse of it because of the beautiful translation.