The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

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The liquid seemed somehow uncomfortable in its tall glass, as if it had nothing better to do than produce its little bubbles. Other things around me began slowly to take on their own dim shapes, like timid little animals letting down their guard in the most gradual stages imaginable.

20 Weird and Wonderful Similes from THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE

And now there remained with me the physical sensation of someone having been sitting on top of me the whole time I was asleep. Whoever it was had waited until I was asleep, come to sit on top of me, and got up and gone away just before I woke. Nor had the joke been a vulgar one: it was the kind of elegant pleasantry that the minister of foreign affairs might have told the crown prince at a garden party a generation ago, causing the surrounding listeners to titter with delight.

Lying in their new box, the old tennis shoes looked like tiny animal corpses. He had a face like the young Solzhenitsyn. Listen Shop Insiders. That's why I've got so many feelers out. I should be hearing something this week. If it's no go, I'll think about doing something else. By the way, what's today? What day of the week? I was just about to go shopping for dinner anyway. I'll decide when I'm shopping. Had the women of the world chosen today to surprise me on the telephone?

I can't keep hanging around forever. There's no real emergency. Do you hate staying at home like this and doing housework? I mean, is this life so wrong for you?

THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLES

I really didn't know. I hadn't thought about the cat all morning. It's been gone over a week now. She went on: "I'm almost certain it's hanging around the empty house at the other end of the alley. The one with the bird statue in the yard. I've seen it in there several times. Got to run. Lots of work to do. Don't forget about the cat. I found myself staring at the receiver again.

MORE BY HARUKI MURAKAMI

Then I set it down in its cradle. I wondered what had brought Kumiko to the alley. To get there from our house, you had to climb over a cinder-block wall. And once you'd made the effort, there was no point in being there. I went to the kitchen for a glass of water, then out to the veranda to look at the cat's dish.

The mound of sardines was untouched from last night. No, the cat had not come back. I stood there looking at our small garden, with the early-summer sunshine streaming into it.

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Not that ours was the kind of garden that gives you spiritual solace to look at. There was a small strand of trees nearby, and from it you could hear the mechanical cry of a bird that sounded as if it were winding a spring. We called it the wind-up bird. Kumiko gave it the name. We didn't know what it was really called or what it looked like, but that didn't bother the wind-up bird. Every day it would come to the stand of trees in our neighborhood and wind the spring of our quiet little world. So now I had to go cat hunting. I had always liked cats.

And I liked this particular cat. But cats have their own way of living. They're not stupid. If a cat stopped living where you happened to be, that meant it had decided to go somewhere else.

If it got tired and hungry, it would come back. Finally, though, to keep Kumiko happy, I would have to go looking for our cat.


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I had nothing better to do. Not that I had quit for any special reason. I didn't dislike the work. It wasn't thrilling, but the pay was all right and the office atmosphere was friendly. And I was good at it. I might say I have a real talent for the execution of such practical duties. I'm a quick study, efficient, I never complain, and I'm realistic. Which is why, when I said I wanted to quit, the senior partner the father in this father-and-son law firm went so far as to offer me a small raise.

But I quit just the same. Not that quitting would help me realize any particular hopes or prospects. The last thing I wanted to do, for example, was shut myself up in the house and study for the bar exam. I was surer than ever that I didn't want to become a lawyer. I knew, too, that I didn't want to stay where I was and continue with the job I had. If I was going to quit, now was the time to do it.

If I stayed with the firm any longer, I'd be there for the rest of my life. I was thirty years old, after all.


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I had told Kumiko at the dinner table that I was thinking of quitting my job. Her only response had been, "I see. I kept silent too, until she added, "If you want to quit, you should quit. It's your life, and you should live it the way you want to. Kumiko earned pretty good pay as editor of a health food magazine, and she would occasionally take on illustration assignments from editor friends at other magazines to earn substantial additional income.

She had studied design in college and had hoped to be a freelance illustrator. In addition, if I quit I would have my own income for a while from unemployment insurance. Other books in this series. Norwegian Wood Haruki Murakami. Add to basket. The Stranger Albert Camus.

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Road Cormac McCarthy. Kafka on the Shore Haruki Murakami.


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The Architecture of Happiness Alain de Botton. The Art of Travel Alain de Botton. Breakfast at Tiffany's Truman Capote. Lolita Vladimir Nabokov. Love in the Time of Cholera. Museum of Innocence Orhan Pamuk. Master Harold and the Boys Athol Fugard. Flap copy Japan's most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II.

In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria.

Gripping, prophetic, suffused with comedy and menace, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a tour de force equal in scope to the masterpieces of Mishima and Pynchon. Review Text "Dreamlike and compelling. Murakami is a genius.