The Windup Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami

Haruki is one of my fav living writers.  Think Raymond Carver meets Gabriel García Márquez.  Could even say HM is the godfather of the new urban fantasy movement (ala Kelly Link).

In this book (published as three novellas in Japan) protagonist Toru Okada is a middle aged slacker without ambition or direction... that is until his wife fails to return from work one day. He receives a bizarre phone call. Then his cat goes missing. Ever stranger events trigger an existential crisis and while exploring his neighborhood he finds and climbs down into an abandoned well.  Experiencing a bit of solace he returns to the well day after day, closing the lid and sitting in utter darkness. 

He meets a cheeky teenage girl and they develop a friendship. She moves away and the relationship continues via mailed letters. Throw in a harrowing first person account of a character's imprisonment and torture during WWII, oh and also a dimensional portal at the bottom of the well and... well it's a slow-burn but otherwise haunting tale.  If you prefer a more grounded (and shorter) book check out Norwegian Wood, Haruki's break-out love story that sold 4 million copies in Japan alone. 


Nick Gullo