The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

(Book 119) Wind-Up Bird Chronicle found us meeting via Zoom for the first time. COVID 19 has us all in isolation, as all of us our in the vulnerable category, though some of us would prefer not to think so. I sent an email asking whether the girls wanted to get into Zoom and suggested they all listen to Who’s Zooming Who? as they read the email and took my survey about how best to launch us into meeting technologically. (I still don’t understand how TV gets into my house — have I mentioned that before?) Because my life has also been changed by my responsibility as a home schooler for my grandson, I wrote up the meeting notes on my lunch hour:

I crashed last night, slept in this morning, so here I am on my lunch break to summarize last night’s meeting.
Though I have nothing to say about any yummy food, Geri’s place setting looked lovely, the way her dishes work with the Wind-Up Bird placemats, the chopsticks, the rests for the chopsticks, the lemon drops and all those lost cats! We all wish we could have been there. It was fun that we all managed to make it on the screen, even if we couldn’t see Mary or hear Ro. Maybe we can fix that. It’s a little weird that on the screen, it’s much harder to figure out when to jump into the conversation, the cues aren’t there somehow, or maybe that was unique to me. I found myself wishing Geri would call on us! (too much teaching lately?)
We managed to have a short discussion of the book, though we were quickly diverted by what was front and center on our minds. So, in an effort to extend the conversation, I’m going to post some of my favorite parts of his writing and other thoughts/questions and everyone can jump on if you wish. Chris might want to stop reading at this point and come back at a later date.
Favorite bits of writing:
The pigeon on the TV antenna kept up its regular cooing, like some clerk stamping numbers on a sheaf of bills.
Hunched down in the dark with her gray shirt on, she looked like a piece of luggage that had been left in the wrong place.
This was a truly loathsome experience, situated at the precise midpoint between a meaningless mortification of the flesh and brutal torture.
Curiosity’s like a fun friend you can’t really trust. It turns you on and then it leaves you to make it on your own — with whatever guts you can muster.
[…] get used to that kind of life — of never having anything you want — then you stop knowing what it is you want.
You can start again. If you want a cat, all you have to do is choose a life in which you can have a cat. It’s simple, It’s your right.
Whenever an occasion arose in which she needed and opinion on something in the wider world, she borrowed her husband’s.

[…] an incurable case of pretentiousness.
It was a narrow world, a world that was standing still. But the narrower it became, and the more it betook of stillness, the more this world that enveloped me seemed to overflow with things and people that could only be called strange. They had been there all the while, it seemed, waiting in the shadows for me to stop moving. And every time the wind-up bird came to my yard to wind its spring, the would descended more deeply into chaos.

The light shines into the act of life for only the briefest moment — perhaps only a matter of seconds. Once it is gone and one has failed to grasp its offered revelation, there is no second chance.
and the one that sometimes felt like a synopsis of the story, but not really, I’m mostly kidding,
One disconnected thing led to another disconnected thing and that’s how all kinds of stuff happened.

I had many more highlights but my lunch break is almost over and I still have questions: I can’t think of them in order I’ll have to throw them out randomly:

Do we all agree that it was Kumiko who called him with the phone sex at the beginning?
Did I miss it or is Kumiko’s sister never named?
Where did Malta Kano go? Why did she drop out of the story completely?
Crete Kano said she was leaving but did she have a baby? from that actual in person sexual encounter with Okada?
What was the significance of Nutmeg’s father having the same kind of mark that Okada had?
Everyone says Murakami is a terrible misogynist, but I thought the character of Okada was written more decently than most men I’ve known. Discuss.
That’s all. Gotta run
Next meeting is April 21. Site TBD.

This was the bird from our calendar for March: Bird Noir. He looked to me as though all he needed was a wind-up key in his back.
And these were the lovely attendees, minus Mary who joined us via phone. My mask is not a certified COVID 19 mask but something Denny, Frances and I made in art class the day before. That’s really how I’d like to appear at all meetings. Photo courtesy of the first gal with the camera in her hands in the picture, our photographer, Susan.