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  1. #1
    Fabula rasa Kas's Avatar
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    Default Book club- Wind- Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

    Welcome to the “Chronicle of wind-up bird” book-club discuss thread.

    To avoid “where to start” I prepared some questions. Feel free to share to answer any of them or just share your free thoughts and discuss about what you found the most interesting in novel.


    1) Did you like the book? Why/why not?

    2)What do you think about main character Toru Okada? How would you describe the traits you consider to be most important/ dominate in his personality

    3) What are your reflections on May Kasahara? Why did she leave Toru in the well?

    4) What signified the cat- its disappearing and return? Why was it named after Noboru Wataya (if there was another reason than its stare)

    5) Why Kumiko left Toru?

    6) How do you understand the meaning of title wind-up bird?

    7) What was the meaning of the scar on the face?

    8) What are your reflections on Malta and Kreta Kano?

    9) What are your reflections of Cinnamon and Nutmeg? Why Cinnamon lost his voice?

    10)The novel consist descriptions of the people suffering from strong pain and suffering from apathy. Which do you consider worse?

    11) What was the purpose of war stories in novel ? Why did Honda wanted his old comrade Mamiya to meet with Toru?

    12) Do you consider us to exist for particular significant moment(s) (moments of lightness)?

    13) What do you think was that inside the women that Nutmeg and Toru were able to move? Why wasn’t similar condition affecting men?

    14) In one of her speeches May says that evanescence is a reason people wonder; that our lives would be much different if we live forever. Do you agree with this? (in novel we have also an example of Mamiya who didn’t live forever , but couldn’t die when he was meant to)

    15) What is significance of the musician? The show with the candle and fight Toru had with him another time they've met.

    16) Do you have a feeling that some of novel puzzles weren’t solve? Which ones?


    @Smilephantomhive , @ThoughtBubbles , @Gentleman Jack , @Luminous , @Hellena Handbasket , @Metis , @Frosty
    “The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes." A.C. Doyle


  2. #2
    Fabula rasa Kas's Avatar
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    I am going to quote Metis posts, as I think they may give more insight into historical background:

    Quote Originally Posted by Metis View Post
    I like Mr. Honda and his story about the Battle of Nomonhan. I'd never heard of it. Now I want to read this book, by Stuart D. Goldman:

    NOMONHAN, 1939 | U.S. Naval Institute

    Here are some articles about the Battle of Nomonhan and Battles of Khalkhin Gol:


    Here's another book, by Alvan D. Coox, which promises a more in-depth study:
    Quote Originally Posted by Metis View Post
    That's where I am now, and where I was a few days ago (around p. 145). (Obviously, I probably won't be entirely through the book by Feb. 1, but I'll try to participate in the discussion.)

    I like having the war stories for the sake of the historical context of this novel, as well as for the purpose of learning more about the broader context of real-life Japanese and world history. TBH, I'm finding Mamiya's narrative a little bit long-winded, and I'm looking forward to moving on to the next chapter of the book.

    I did note that the Battle of Nomonhan occurred the same year the Einstein-Szilárd letter was sent to United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt.


    Einstein–Szilard letter - Wikipedia

    That letter was intended to warn the U.S. that Germany might be developing nuclear weapons, and to suggest that the U.S. do the same. It led to the Manhattan Project, which developed the bombs that would eventually be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

    The book appears to be set in 1984.
    Quote Originally Posted by Metis View Post
    @Kas

    Wow. I just read the chapter after that, and it was the continuation of Mamiya's long story. The first chapter of it was long-winded, but it was background for the second chapter of his story. Part II of his story is the part of the book that's spoken to me thus far.

    The description, "the cast-off shell of an insect" (p. 167), is one I relate to. His story is like a myth that condenses the essence of a range of experience, notwithstanding the details, and his feelings are relatable. I could have skipped the whole beginning of the book and just read that story.
    Quote Originally Posted by Metis View Post
    I like Mr. Honda and his story about the Battle of Nomonhan. I'd never heard of it. Now I want to read this book, by Stuart D. Goldman:

    NOMONHAN, 1939 | U.S. Naval Institute



    Here are some articles about the Battle of Nomonhan and Battles of Khalkhin Gol:


    Here's another book, by Alvan D. Coox, which promises a more in-depth study:
    Quote Originally Posted by Metis View Post
    That's where I am now, and where I was a few days ago (around p. 145). (Obviously, I probably won't be entirely through the book by Feb. 1, but I'll try to participate in the discussion.)

    I like having the war stories for the sake of the historical context of this novel, as well as for the purpose of learning more about the broader context of real-life Japanese and world history. TBH, I'm finding Mamiya's narrative a little bit long-winded, and I'm looking forward to moving on to the next chapter of the book.

    I did note that the Battle of Nomonhan occurred the same year the Einstein-Szilárd letter was sent to United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt.


    Einstein–Szilard letter - Wikipedia

    That letter was intended to warn the U.S. that Germany might be developing nuclear weapons, and to suggest that the U.S. do the same. It led to the Manhattan Project, which developed the bombs that would eventually be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

    The book appears to be set in 1984.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kas View Post
    This is interesting.
    Yes, the action is set in June 1984-December 1985

    This story is really intense. When I finished the chapter , I needed to make a pause because it was difficult to return to main plot of book. And now I just finished book yesterday and still it's the book part that is most vivid in my memory.
    “The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes." A.C. Doyle


  3. #3
    Fabula rasa Kas's Avatar
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    Does anyone know was skinning really used as torture in 20th century?
    “The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes." A.C. Doyle


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    Quote Originally Posted by Kas View Post
    Does anyone know was skinning really used as torture in 20th century?
    I haven't found anything about Mongolian and/or Soviet use of flaying in WWII or the 20th century, but Japan used it as a torture method in WWII.

    "Billy Lynch’s captors tortured him, peeling the skin from his body before killing him, cutting him up, and stuffing his remains in a barrel that was sealed."

    Epilogue for a lost Marine - The Boston Globe
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  5. #5
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    @Kas

    I'm at the section, halfway through the book, where Creta Kano finishes telling Okada about what had happened with Noboru Wataya.
    She's described her experiences with not having a self/ego, and having others' minds and egos pass through her.

    I still miss Mamiya's story and the way it evoked the essence of something. I keep looking for that in the rest of the book, but it still seems like the most archetypal part of the book so far. Okada's experience in the well was also relatable, but in a less essential way--as an imitation of Mamiya, and so not as immediate an experience.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metis View Post
    @Kas

    I'm at the section, halfway through the book, where Creta Kano finishes telling Okada about what had happened with Noboru Wataya.
    She's described her experiences with not having a self/ego, and having others' minds and egos pass through her.

    I still miss Mamiya's story and the way it evoked the essence of something. I keep looking for that in the rest of the book, but it still seems like the most archetypal part of the book so far. Okada's experience in the well was also relatable, but in a less essential way--as an imitation of Mamiya, and so not as immediate an experience.
    Later in novel is another story that could be treated as myth imo, but hasn't made such an impression on me.

    The wells in Okada's and Mamiya's stories both seem to symbolise isolation and being at the bottom, and yet due to better distance or contrast being able to truly see the light. In Mayamiya's it's more intense, more mystical experience, in case of Okada's it's more of facing the unconsciousness.

    I also think that similarities between Kreta and Kumiko aren't random. The younger sisters, with good relation with older one, but when they truly need older sister she is gone. Hurt by Noboru. Stuck in some kind of apathy. Having sex with many partners (or clients in case of Kreta). Showing others a fake façade (Kreta by her fake style, Kumiko by lying to her husband). Toru even noticed they were similar physically. Both needed Toru to save them. I think Malta by saying in their first meeting that her sister Kreta was abused by Noboru and Toru should know situations like that could happen, gave him advice just not very clear one.
    “The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes." A.C. Doyle

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kas View Post
    Later in novel is another story that could be treated as myth imo, but hasn't made such an impression on me.

    The wells in Okada's and Mamiya's stories both seem to symbolise isolation and being at the bottom, and yet due to better distance or contrast being able to truly see the light. In Mayamiya's it's more intense, more mystical experience, in case of Okada's it's more of facing the unconsciousness.
    That's a good point. Later, Creta and then May went into the well on their own at different times. It seems like every time someone goes down into a well in this story, it's an echo of the original, and it gets more vague with each person who does it. Everyone has a different variation on the experience, but less intense than the previous person's variation on it.

    Another parallel with different variations for different characters is that they keep talking about being split in two, and/or having some kind of glob or entity inside of them, or coming out of them. I haven't gotten to a point at which it becomes clear what these themes are about, especially the inner globs of May and Creta, and the inner hidden thing of Noboru Wataya. I don't know if it becomes clear later in the story.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kas View Post
    I also think that similarities between Kreta and Kumiko aren't random. The younger sisters, with good relation with older one, but when they truly need older sister she is gone. Hurt by Noboru. Stuck in some kind of apathy. Having sex with many partners (or clients in case of Kreta). Showing others a fake façade (Kreta by her fake style, Kumiko by lying to her husband). Toru even noticed they were similar physically. Both needed Toru to save them. I think Malta by saying in their first meeting that her sister Kreta was abused by Noboru and Toru should know situations like that could happen, gave him advice just not very clear one.
    What about the cat? Is it supposed to parallel Kumiko too?


    I'm on Book 3 now. Okada's just received the new letter from Lt. Mamiya, wanting to visit and talk with him again. Okada's also trying to buy the empty lot.
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  8. #8
    Fabula rasa Kas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metis View Post
    That's a good point. Later, Creta and then May went into the well on their own at different times. It seems like every time someone goes down into a well in this story, it's an echo of the original, and it gets more vague with each person who does it. Everyone has a different variation on the experience, but less intense than the previous person's variation on it.

    Another parallel with different variations for different characters is that they keep talking about being split in two, and/or having some kind of glob or entity inside of them, or coming out of them. I haven't gotten to a point at which it becomes clear what these themes are about, especially the inner globs of May and Creta, and the inner hidden thing of Noboru Wataya. I don't know if it becomes clear later in the story.
    Yes indeed, interesting about change in intensity of the experience.
    I was thinking too that perhaps the well was more of "incubator" and what they experienced depended on what was troubling them, what was inside.

    There is more about these inner globs in part 3, but it's not cleared.

    What about the cat? Is it supposed to parallel Kumiko too?
    My idea was it may represents the goodness in their relationship. The leaving of the cat meant that problems accumulated and it wasn't working properly. Final warning.
    And I was thinking that perhaps the fact cat was named by them Noboru Wataya could mean that evil can be easily mistaken with goodness if you judge only by cover (perhaps overinterpretation though).
    “The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes." A.C. Doyle


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    Quote Originally Posted by Kas View Post
    Yes indeed, interesting about change in intensity of the experience.
    I was thinking too that perhaps the well was more of "incubator" and what they experienced depended on what was troubling them, what was inside.

    There is more about these inner globs in part 3, but it's not cleared.
    Do you relate at all to the sense of an inner glob, or some kind of alien entity in yourself? I don't. I relate to other aspects of the story, but not to that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kas View Post
    My idea was it may represents the goodness in their relationship. The leaving of the cat meant that problems accumulated and it wasn't working properly. Final warning.
    The wind-up bird itself left around the time that the cat did. (Maybe the cat killed it and ran away because it had a guilty conscience!) What do you think is the wind-up bird's part in all this?

    Toru seems to have a symbolic relationship with it, because of May's nickname for him. Does Toru wind the world's spring, in some way? At least in terms of his own experience of the world? It seems like the workaday "9-to-5" sense of time did stop for him, and gave way to a more organic experience of time.

    My favorite author, Madeleine L'Engle, wrote something about time that I read as a kid, which always stayed with me. She said there were two kinds of time, called chronos and kairos. Some of L'Engle's books used the chronos sense of time, which is more like a day-to-day, clockwork conception of time. "Meet the Austins" and the other books in that series were set in chronos time. Kairos, she said, on the other hand, was "real" time. It isn't divided into discrete units of itself, the way chronos time is. It's more organic, less concrete, and closer to the concept of eternity. L'Engle's Newbery Award winning "A Wrinkle in Time" and its sequels are set mostly in kairos time. @Totenkindly

    It seems that Toru's wind-up bird's abandonment coincided with his movement from chronos to kairos time, which led to some mysterious, otherworldly-seeming experiences, and a more introspective experience of his world.

    It's like the spring of chronos time, the clock, wound down, for Toru at least, but not completely. No one completely changes to kairos time. It didn't even happen completely in Lt. Mamiya's well story: Mamiya was about to see something of that world, related to eternity, but its revelation just barely eluded him.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kas View Post
    And I was thinking that perhaps the fact cat was named by them Noboru Wataya could mean that evil can be easily mistaken with goodness if you judge only by cover (perhaps overinterpretation though).
    That might be. Creta tells Toru, "In a world where you are losing everything (...), Noboru Wataya is gaining everything. In a world where you are rejected, he is accepted. And the opposite is just as true. Which is why he hates you so intensely." (p.312) It was also said somewhere in the book that large things can really be small, and small things can really be large. That's, in fact, almost verbatim a concept that L'Engle also mentioned in A Wind in the Door. @Totenkindly

  10. #10
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    Both subjects you wrote about are something I cannot fully gasp, but here are my thoughts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Metis View Post
    Do you relate at all to the sense of an inner glob, or some kind of alien entity in yourself? I don't. I relate to other aspects of the story, but not to that.
    I think the inside entities are suppose to represent the jellyfish world. Something hidden from the world. Darkness, fear, anger, sadness. Hidden because how to show the world of jellyfishes while most of the people find them gross or dangerous? Or perhaps hidden from the owner as well?
    Firstly I thought it applies to women who were somehow abused , assaulted which created some kind of darkness inside of them. Toru first meets this in case of Creta and thinks the same. He asks May whether she ever felt this way when she says about her experience, but she says she didn't. In her case may it be fear of death and sadness, feeling of lost?

    In this way, when understood as a kind of the darkness inside of me that I prefer nobody to know- I can relate to this.

    But understanding it this way, I can't understand why it seems to be only inside of women. Here I'm lost.

    The wind-up bird itself left around the time that the cat did. (Maybe the cat killed it and ran away because it had a guilty conscience!) What do you think is the wind-up bird's part in all this?

    Toru seems to have a symbolic relationship with it, because of May's nickname for him. Does Toru wind the world's spring, in some way? At least in terms of his own experience of the world? It seems like the workaday "9-to-5" sense of time did stop for him, and gave way to a more organic experience of time.
    Haven't thought of it (cat and bird missing same time). I like it as more flesh-and-blood explanation.

    I have few thoughts on wind up bird, but no conclusions.
    I had a concept that bird may be a magpie. The book starts with "The Thieving Magpie" when Toru is making pasta, when the woman calls. And also I remember watching a program about magpies being able to recognise themselves in the mirrors. They were marked with colourful stickers, most of birds knew these are them and tried to remove the stickers with their beaks from their bodies (so they knew the reflections aren't themselves).
    Toru as you written has connection with wind up bird and after he leaves the well, he is marked with a scar- so he knows something "real" happened out there and he can continue to find true about his relationship. But not only. His character from the very beginning seems to be finding true about himself - who he is? what he should do in life?

    I think this is really good what you noticed about dynamics of Toru's world after bird was gone.

    My favorite author, Madeleine L'Engle, wrote something about time that I read as a kid, which always stayed with me. She said there were two kinds of time, called chronos and kairos. Some of L'Engle's books used the chronos sense of time, which is more like a day-to-day, clockwork conception of time. "Meet the Austins" and the other books in that series were set in chronos time. Kairos, she said, on the other hand, was "real" time. It isn't divided into discrete units of itself, the way chronos time is. It's more organic, less concrete, and closer to the concept of eternity. L'Engle's Newbery Award winning "A Wrinkle in Time" and its sequels are set mostly in kairos time. @Totenkindly

    It seems that Toru's wind-up bird's abandonment coincided with his movement from chronos to kairos time, which led to some mysterious, otherworldly-seeming experiences, and a more introspective experience of his world.

    It's like the spring of chronos time, the clock, wound down, for Toru at least, but not completely. No one completely changes to kairos time. It didn't even happen completely in Lt. Mamiya's well story: Mamiya was about to see something of that world, related to eternity, but its revelation just barely eluded him.



    That might be. Creta tells Toru, "In a world where you are losing everything (...), Noboru Wataya is gaining everything. In a world where you are rejected, he is accepted. And the opposite is just as true. Which is why he hates you so intensely." (p.312) It was also said somewhere in the book that large things can really be small, and small things can really be large. That's, in fact, almost verbatim a concept that L'Engle also mentioned in A Wind in the Door. @Totenkindly
    You are another person who writes about "A Wrinkle of Time" with many good words and I've never read it. I like the idea of chronos and kairos time.
    “The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes." A.C. Doyle

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