Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (JRC3)

'Murakami writes of contemporary Japan, urban alienation and journeys of self-discovery, and in this bok he combines recollections of the war with metaphysics, dreams and hallucinations into a powerful and impressionistic work' (Independent). [back cover]

What just happened? This is usually what I think when I get to the end of one of Murakami's chapters, and often what I think when I get to the end of the book. I like the way DolceBellezza puts it 'When i close the pages of a Murakami novel, I feel that I have to sit quietly for a while. a long while. The pieces of the story that he's told me float through my conscious, and my subconscious; some of them make sense....'

So it's near impossible for me to review this book in detail today. I'm 100 pages from finishing it, and about 3 weeks away from processing it. But today's the end of the Japanese Reaching Challenge 3, so I wanted to offer some of my thoughts.

First - I found several other bloggers who read this during the challenge and offer really great reviews
Now, my current thoughts: There's a story and then there's the experience - it's like you walking down a winding path and the world beyond is all fuzzy - you want make our the shapes or the activity beyond the path - perhaps its more like you're caught up in the current of a fast moving river - clearly heading towards something greater (like the ocean) but you're not sure what you're passing along the way. Yet at some points on that journey you do get a glimpse of what you've passed or passing.

What I love about Murakami's novels is the introspection they offer. While I read what's happening to Mr Okada, or Mr Wind-up Bird, I see myself in the mirror. Was the cat's disappearance a signal for things to come, or coincidental? Was his wife's leaving a sign or a symptom? What was the mark on his face trying to tell him? ( I'm hoping I'll find out when I actually finish the book).... but the point is - there's always loads of questions in a Murakami story line - and most of them I can apply to myself.

I'm currently thinking that Mr Okada was accepting the journey he was on because he believed in fate - of destiny or karma. Me, I'm much more likely to see what I can do about my journey, change it if I need to, and to work towards my goals.

Again, I would recommend this read to anyone who's prepared to take the same journey of Mr Okada, or his cat, or Maya Kasahara or any one of the others in the story - because their journey is a reflection of ours, or the people around us.

I would like to reflect more on the spiritual aspects of this novel, but it's too early for me now.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Happy New Year!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year, and may all your hopes and dreams come true.

I've definitely been on a blogging break, and during that time have reflected more about the reason I blog and what it means to me to continue, or not. I haven't yet got answers, but my thoughts have been progressing.

Sometimes I feel guilty that I haven't been able to find time to blog, I even feel guilty sometimes that I haven't finished reading new books to review, or that my reviews aren't really interesting. But as I look back over the past few weeks, I have had none of these feelings. Life has been full, and I've been pretty content with what's been going on and all that which has kept me away from the computer.

Of course, there was Christmas. And in one of my volunteer roles, I was asked to attend a Christmas Lights display on behalf of my branch, to help raise funds. I did this, with some friends, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and I have to say, it was just a lovely way to spend a those nights - hanging out with others who love Christmas, listening to carols, and talking with locals and visitors about the work we do as volunteers.

Between Christmas and when I was due t return to work, parts of Central-Western NSW were inundated with flood waters. This is one the the challenges of living in Australia, extremes in weather. One minute we're in drought, and the next we're in flood. These floods may be for some, just what was needed to save their livelihood for another season or two. For others though, much was lost.

I had the opportunity to go to the flood affected area's, for 9 days, to assist with recovery and relief, and to spend time with the affected communities, learning more about what this would mean for them. I really enjoyed my time out west, and I value the opportunity I had to sit with new friends and learn more about life in Australia.

I hope you had a lovely Christmas Season, wherever you spent it, and I look forward to getting back to blogging as my life settles down into 2010.