Wind-Up-Bird-Chronicle

Happy Birthday to the brilliant Haruki Murakami -one of my favorite authors and one of today’s most compelling, imaginative voices.

I rarely suffer lengthy emotional distress from contact with other people. A person may anger or annoy me, but not for long. I can distinguish between myself and another as beings of two different realms. It’s a kind of talent (by which I do not meant to boast: it’s not an easy thing to do, so if you can do it, it is a kind of talent—a special power). When someone gets on my nerves, the first thing I do is transfer the object of my unpleasant feelings to another domain, one having no connection with me. Then I tell myself, Fine, I’m feeling bad, but I’ve put the source of these feelings into another zone, away from here, where I can examine it and deal with it later in my own good time. In other words, I put a freeze on my emotions. Later, when I thaw them out to perform the examination, I do occasionally find my emotions still in a distressed state, but that is rare. The passage of time will usually extract the venom from most things and render them harmless. Then, sooner or later, I forget about them.
—  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Is it possible, in the final analysis, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another? We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close can we come to that person’s essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?
—  Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
You’re not a kid anymore. You have the right to choose your own life. 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.
—  Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Appropriating Latinx Magical Realism: A Twitter Thread

Mel from Books on Wings began this discussion by tweeting: “Apart from all the mess that is MS’ new book, I’ve always been hesitant about non-latinx people writing magical realism. It’s prominently a Latin American genre and she took inspiration from Isabel Allende and García Márquez. But why would we need her voice and story?”

I studied magical realism and the fantastic in college, and wrote my senior thesis on it, so I decided to jump in, because this has often bothered me as well. So here it is: You can write magical realism without appropriating Latin-American stories or Latinx magical realism. It’s easy. Here’s why. 

Magical Realism as a genre was founded by Gabriel García Márquez. One Hundred Years of Solitude and The House of the Spirits are two examples of the genre. This genre is largely a reaction against colonialism and Western realism. The idea is that mythology and spirituality are not as separate from the ‘real world’ in non-Western storytelling traditions. Here’s a way of explaining this: when I was a kid, my parents and grandparents told me a lot of stories about our history that are exaggerated, added-to, mythologized a little bit, etc. If I told a family history, I would tell those stories instead of finding the real ones, because these stories actually explain my family better. It’s an argument that it’s actually sort of more real if you include those tales rather than the ‘historically correct ones.’ You can pull inspiration from this genre successfully without appropriating it. For example, Jeffrey Eugenides in Middlesex uses the same sort of family/historical epic framework, dotted with magical realism, to tell his story. 

Magical realism is used in the literature of many cultures, from Balkan to Japanese to African-American novels and stories. It’s often used to project an anti-Western outlook, but with postmodernism, many Western writers began to utilize it as well. But outside of Latin America, magical realism is a mode, not a genre. It is a literary tool to enhance your story and give it depth, or mystery. It’s used, just for example, by The Master and Margarita, Ulysses, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Lincoln in the Bardo, the short stories of Shirley Jackson and Angela Carter. Would you put those all into the same genre? No, me neither. That’s because these all use magical realism but don’t try to appropriate the genre of magical realism, which is a Latin American genre. They use it as a mode to create a certain feeling, experience, and depth for the reader, but are not directly using the styles of Marquez.

That’s my problem with Maggie Stiefvater’s new novel. There is no reason why you need to appropriate Latinx stories or tropes from the genre of magical realism in order to write a novel that has magical realism in it. As Mel added, non-Latinx people can use it as a mode—but there’s no reason to take Latinx stories away. I agree. Do you want to write a novel with magical realism in it? Great—so do I, in fact. But why do you need to write a Latin American story to do so? The answer is that you really don’t. 

4

i hate not finishing books, but the windup bird chronicle i just couldn’t do it.. there were two scenes in the book that really freaked me out for some reason and made me feel super anxious and i never looked forward to reading it at night. eventually just had to give up but i bought two new books that i’m really looking forward to reading!

The point is, not to resist the flow. You go up when you’re supposed to go up and down when you’re supposed to go down. When you’re supposed to go up, find the highest tower and climb to the top. When you’re supposed to go down, find the deepest well and go down to the bottom. When there’s no flow, stay still. If you resist the flow, everything dries up. If everything dries up, the world is darkness.
—  Haruki Murakami, Wind Up Bird Chronicle
The point is, not to resist the flow. You go up when you’re supposed to go up and down when you’re supposed to go down. When you’re supposed to go up, find the highest tower and climb to the top. When you’re supposed to go down, find the deepest well and go down to the bottom. When there’s no flow, stay still. If you resist the flow, everything dries up. If everything dries up, the world is darkness.
—  Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle