The #winditup2013 Read-Along Update: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Book Two)

Wind-Up Bird Read Along Button 2013

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Book Two)
By Haruki Murakami
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780679775430, 1998, 624pp.)

This post shares my thoughts on book two. If you are reading along with me and have not finished book two, save this post for later as it may contain spoilers.

In a nutshell, what takes place in book two? 

A lot happens in book two. Kumiko goes missing and we find out why. Toru has a run-in with Noboru, Kumiko’s brother not the cat. Toru stands up for himself, for once. We learn more about Creta and it’s even more bizarre than what we initially thought! She’s a prostitute of the mind. I will let you ponder that one. Toru, in despair over Kumiko’s disappearance decides to spend some time in a dried up well. What he doesn’t expect though is that May will take it upon herself to see that he stays there. As Toru spends some time in the well, we learn more about the early years of his marriage. As a result of his time in the well, a mysterious black mark appears on Toru’s face. Creta tells her story of the rape and it’s not pretty. It involves the removal of organs or beings which caused a division of flesh and spirit. The end of book two does not end well for Toru and if you read between the lines, it’s clear that he’s becoming unglued.

Which part of book two did you enjoy the most?

The part that I enjoyed the most was actually the parts where Toru was in the well. This voluntary seclusion that turned into something else fascinated me. For one, I never expected May to do what she did. She’s always been a “go with the flow” kind of gal but I did not expect her to get involved in that way. Her power over Toru at that point made me very angry. I wanted to know where she was going with it, but at the same time, pulling up the ladder seemed like a bratty, childish thing to do and I wondered if she had any point at all in doing what she did.

With his hunger and extreme thirst, his time in the well is spent hallucinating but as a reader, you’re never sure of what’s imaginary and what’s real. I was riveted to the page during this part of the story. I felt as if everything meant something so I read carefully, trying to discern the meaning behind every little thing.

Each chapter has a unique title. Which title is your favorite so far?

The Story of the Monkeys of the Shitty Island” but, I have to tell you  “No Good News in This Chapter” is a close second. Some have expressed their frustration with the chapter titles but I’ve been using them to go back to parts of the book and with them being so unique, I find them a big help when trying to find something.

What if your favorite quote in book two? 

I have several but this is the one I remembered to write down:

A certain kind of shittiness, a certain kind of stagnation, a certain kind of darkness, goes on propagating itself with its own power in its own self-contained cycle. And once it passes a certain point, no one can stop it–even if the person himself wants to stop it.  (Wind-Up, page 202).

What is the significance of Kumiko’s abortion?

Toru explains that they weren’t ready for a baby and left the decision up to Kumiko, but I can’t help but think that the “abortion” is somehow related to Creta’s defilement by Noboru. The removal of self, the division of flesh and spirit. Perhaps this is when Kumiko became the bloodless, robot that I consider her to be??

Kumiko’s letter is an explanation of why she did what she did, but do you buy it?

Kumiko is frustrating in many ways. She’s very reserved and detached. Almost robot-like. Her letter to Toru is wrought with feeling, but it doesn’t come across as genuine to me. I think there is more going on with her disappearance than what she lets on. This part of the story remains a mystery to me.

Without commenting on book three, what do you make of the mark on Toru’s cheek?

In my mind, he’s transforming into his “other” self or his other self is coming out. This theme of re-birth seems to be rearing its head all over. May suddenly gets motivated to go back to school, Creta moves from numbness into her 3rd self and now Toru’s act of violence on the guitar guy leads to a horrible dream about skin overtaking him.

For fun, make a prediction on what happened to Noboru the cat. Where is he? What happened to him?

It’s possible that we’ll never know but another blogger did mention that she seemed to recall finding out in book three but she read it so long ago she couldn’t remember. The well seems too obvious. It’s also strange that the cat is named after Kumiko’s brother. My guess, and I am sure I am way off, is that Noboru IS the cat. That his other self is feline.

Anything else you want to add?

I found book two to be much more interesting but at the same time, it was harder to keep straight. I found myself going back to my notes quite a bit. I think we are at the point now where what happens in one book will also be mentioned in books two and three so keeping them all straight might be more difficult.

Your turn!

What do YOU think so far? If you want to comment, add a comment to this post or use the hashtag below to find us on Twitter. If you did a write-up on your blog, use Mister Linky below to add a link to it. You can also click on the Mister Linky button to view the links that everyone has posted thus far.

You do not need to comment at all if you don’t want to! Next up, book three and we have until May 12th to finish it. Thanks for reading along!

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14 thoughts on “The #winditup2013 Read-Along Update: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Book Two)”

  1. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts. This book is definitely one that it’s good to read with others. I think you’re right about the mark (I guessed otherwise in my answer) and about Kumiko. Also about how hard it is to figure out the meaning of everything! I have my post ready to go and will link up to yours.

    1. I know some readers need definitive answers to things and for that reason, I expect a few to not enjoy this one. I am not nearly done, but from his past books, I will say that he leaves it pretty open ended for interpretation. I tend to like this because there isn’t a “wrong” way to interpret anything but I know some cannot stand that when reading a book. So I am expecting this one to end without resolution, at least, without a resolution that is hard and fast.

  2. I am way behind, but should be able to catch up soon. I will have to let you know what I think when I do! I have an audio that I must finish for review before I can go back to this one, but I must say that I am enjoying TWUBC much more than the other one!!

    1. I’ve been reading other books in between Wind-Up and although they are also good, I don’t have that dreamy, surreal feeling that I do when I read Wind-Up. I sort of like that disconnected feeling lately.

  3. I hereby decree a PhD of Murakami upon you!!! I got so much from your post. I have to admit that I didn’t realize that Toru is losing it…but now it is becoming a bit more clear. Guess I should have noticed that when he beat that guy up, huh?? I’m learning so much and this might be a book that I end up going back and rereading at some point.

  4. I’ve been refraining from commenting on book 2 or even posting on twitter, because I finished the whole thing, and the lines between the books has blurred. But I had some thoughts on Kumiko’s abortion.

    There are 2 abortions in this book, and in both Toru is passive. The women make the decision and he is left powerless. That feels connected to one of the themes, which is fate. Toru isn’t so much angry about either women’s abortion, just confused and left watching the events unfolding without any power to direct them.

    This has been an amazing book.

  5. Your summary is soooo good. It was difficult to keep track. Things got massively weird. And now … a few weeks on and a few other books under my belt, it all blurs together. I’m so glad you hosted this readalong — reading it with you and hearing your comments made it a much better reading experience.

    1. Thank you! I know it wasn’t a fave of yours but I’m so happy you drank the Kool Aid with me. Made it a much richer reading experience for sure. I’ve no idea what I am going to say in my Book 3 post. I’ve written two posts and deleted both of them. 

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