I was hesitant to write anything about this book because there seems to be an overwhelming amount of adequate and often incisive reviews already posted about this book. Obviously there are varying opinions, but it seems like the majority of reviewers here are ready to jump out of their socks for Murakami’s prose/sympobolism/intricacy. 95% liked it at least, and I’m guessing all the 5 stars are the raving fans previously mentioned? I don’t know where I fall, but I definitely liked it. Only having a day to simmer in the aftermath of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, I’ve not completely consolidated my wildly dispersed ideas on this considerably large book. Still, I need to write down my thoughts before they drift away, like fragmentary dreams, which compared to Murakami’s books, aren’t all that different. So, what does it all mean? That’s a stupid, but honest question. Uncertainty is what makes Murakami’s books both wonderful and frustrating. Yea, it really dictates everything about his writing. He draws in his reader into the often icy and always dark pool of his story with strange characters/situations set in even stranger settings as his hooks and line. Sometimes it’s not so bad, and you feel like you’re drifting, but other times the author’s approach is more akin to violent drowning, holding off easy answers like the depravation of oxygen. These put the reader into a hyper-aware crisis mode where any and all details matter tenfold, because in all his genius, Murakami frequently incorporates incredibly mundane happenings into surreal and significant events. Personally I relished in the mystery, stumbling across each new connection was fun, albeit rare…
I guess I should note here that it took me about 2 months to finish this book, and I know that meant my brain gradually lost bits and pieces of information as the days passed by before I would pick up my Kindle again for another attempt. Granted, I was reading Dune at the same time, it still took long, even with my snail-paced reading -_-. So in answering the question ^^ what does it all mean? I’m sorry, future Daniel (the only reader of this shitty “review”), if I recall things mistakenly.
What was it with the Cutty Sark?
Before Creta Kano’s extensive backstory, I was sure I had at least a bit of the whiskey explanation sorted out. My initial story went along the lines of the whiskey being a immorality-intoxication and you know, it was a bad thing. Mr. Honda’s package of an empty Cutty Sark box closed off the first book of the novel right? Well this would go along with his warning to “beware of water!” or something. Cutty Sark’s empty container was a repeated warning and premonition for all things ruinous. Whenever Toru visited the dark room with the mysterious lady, a bottle of Cutty Sark always seemed to be there. Maybe I’m oversimplifying things (or overconvoluting?), but it seems like Cutty Sark is a representation of Toru’s passive attitude in life (something mentioned by everyone’s review) and his failure to take initiative/inability to take initiave- like an incredibly drunken, almost disabled man. Near the end of the book, the whiskey is said to be nearly out, like someone had been drinking it, and we know Toru isn’t drinking enough to finish the whole glass bottle. Instead, I thought that the gradual disappearence of Cutty Sark indicated a realization on Toru’s part regarding his passivity and not-solidness. What’s the opposite of solid? Liquidness? That would work out. Toru initially is very liquid-y, a formless man who possesses no personal convictions about the on-goings of his day to day life. As we first meet him, we’re informed of his existence before the page 1, Toru was an office-man (what was his job again?) who came home on time and owned a home with a cat and a wife who (normally) also came home on time, and they would have dinner together. Normal, ordinary, and organized, these seem to be the defining characteristics of Toru Okada’s life before the disappearence of his cat, Noboru Wataya*. <Side note: Noboru Wataya’s (the cat) disappearence out into the world and out of Toru’s insular world, brought into Toru’s world an until then, out in the world Noboru Wataya (the human).> As the book progresses, we witness Toru encounter increasingly bizarre circumstances that throw a seemingly ordinary man into the indeterminate flows of the world. Crazy right? Well through the turmoil, as far as I know, Toru emerges a stronger, more solid person. The toxic liquid has escaped, possibly being expelled/consumed by the Man with a Knife, an entity that’s probably the human Noboru Wataya. His identity doesn’t really matter, just the idea of Toru’s siphoning of (his)darkness into the void matters. I guess without the liquid, all that remains is the glass, clear and transparent, free of surreptitious deceptions, and while fragile, it remains strong in its representation of virtue. But that might be stretching it.
What was it with the blue mark?
Okay so this is one of the harder questions for me. What was it with the blue mark? What did it matter? And why? I didn’t want to think about the mark because along with the bat, it bothers me (as the most impenetrable symbols)! I hope to myself that they don’t mean anything and they’re just meaningless details, put there to add a little pizzazz to the story, but I mean it’s Murakami, almost everything has a purpose, let alone recurring pairs of images. Ugh. So what does the blue mark mean? First, I can trace back the beginning of the mark with Toru’s first stay in the well and his first visit to the dark room (I think). I remember a kiss with tongue, a tongue that warmed his right cheek as he passed through the gelatin-y wall. Looking back, maybe the mark was Kumiko’s way of protecting, or warning Toru of something. The mark did set off a chain of events that eventually led to Toru (kinda) owning the Miyakawa’s property with the well, ensuring future visits with the mystery lady in the dark room*. <Often interpreted as the inside of Toru’s mind.> So if this theory if even remotely on it, Kumiko would have to have powers of precognition. I mean that wouldn’t be uncommon in a book that has sisters with psychic abilities. The mark also gave Toru powers, the power that Nutmeg also possessed, a curative ability that seemed to pull at an inner something that resided in all human beings, as Nutmeg explains. The blue color might explain this specific connection, blue indicating spirituality and emotive themes. Beyond these two measly conclusions, I can’t speculate much more without completely bullshitting. If someone could answer, what do you think the mark showcases?
What was it with the bat?
Jumping right in with issue number 2 of relative hardness. The bat encompasses the jarring amount of destructiveness humanity has in its capability. Not just plain old violence, but voilence as conveyed through acts of cruelty and demonstrations in mercilessness (right spelling?). Murakami even gives us an instance where the bat might have been a part of an unconscious attack, although psychologically, on a person, hinting at an inherent voilent nature that leans towards death and murder even without us knowing. Now that’s a scary notion. Maybe the bat represented an unrestrained savagery present in all makind as when Toru ruthlessly attacks the Man with the Guitarcase. Tangent: sorry but now doing the whole capitalizing thing twice now, I realize how stupid it looks….still fun.
This review was never finished. I had cut a limb from the beast, promising to come back soon to finish the job, but instead, several months have passed and I’ve simply let it bleed out. By now it seems pointless to even attempt a revival. Instead I’m here to end this weeping creature of a review’s life in order to ensure any excess suffering is stifled without wait. Incredible book! Read the WUBC!