“In a place far away from anyone or anywhere, I drifted off for a moment”. These were the last words in the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle which illustrate the magical realism that the entire story evokes.
For me, Murakami's legendary story symbolises one of the most important quests in real life - the confrontation and evolution of the self. The protagonist, Toru, is thrown into a series of events starting with a missing cat that devolves into an utterly surreal, bizarre, unpredictable set of experiences. From Toru's journey I believe that he comes to realise the sheer meaninglessness of life, embodying the fatalistic and post modernist ideas of Murakami's writing.
Toru starts to question everything he has ever believed in, the nature of life, whether humans can truly understand one another, the pointless pursuits and values that people often hold. While Murakami, as usual, leaves us with an endless number of unanswered questions, I find no lack of closure in the book's ending. My personal opinion is that Toru is truly able to confront himself and his enemies and from this gathers an unspoken epiphany - that the supposed meaninglessness of life and inevitability of pain and suffering provides us a profound purpose in itself. Accepting this meaninglessness gives us complete freedom from our obsessions of values and items in daily life that bring us no real joy or fulfillment.
To quote Toru himself: “The light shines into the act of life for only the briefest moment – perhaps only a matter of seconds. Once it is gone and one has failed to grasp its offered revelation, there is no second chance. One may have to live the rest of one's life in hopeless depths of loneliness and remorse. In that twilight world, one can no longer look forward to anything. All that such a person holds in his hands is the withered corpse of what should have been.”
Overall, the Wind-up bird chronicle has become one of my favourite books of all time. Murakami's writing was astoundingly expressive, being both intensely gruesome and beautiful at times. Each line seems like a carefully constructed metaphor that Murakami challenges you to decipher - this quality is what appeals to me on such a deep scale. Would definitely recommend to anyone interested in the genre of low fantasy and magical realism.