Once I read this book.
Then I read this book:
Except it had this cover, which seems designed to aid you in associating it with a Murakami novel.
Not that “Atmospheric Disturbances” is “Murakami-esque.” But there is something wonderfully complimentary about these two novels. It was sort of like if I had watched an episode of “90210” with only Brenda, and she seemed oddly incomplete, but then I watched one with Brenda and her twin brother Brandon, and I realized that, while they were almost humorously NOT alike, by gosh were they ever twins, borne of the same womb, who, in the parallel universe where they were both actors, were indeed banging one another.
It is possible that I could make similar metaphors.
My first instinct would be a food metaphor. Like, “Wind-Up Bird Chronicles is like a hot dog, and Atmospheric Disturbances is like diced jalapeños and ketchup” or “WUBC is like sushi and AD is like ginger and wasabi.” But that would be incorrect. Because one is not the substance and the other the tasty, tasty condiment. It is more that they are echoes of the same thing, but going off in opposite directions.
Let’s say Murakami and Galchen were both given the task of buying Barack Obama an iPad. Murakami would have gone to the mall, stopped to buy some noodles, met a girl with an interesting ear and talked to her about records. Then he would have gone to the bathroom and watched a father speak firmly to his son. This would concern him and he would follow them into a toy shop, where he would swear he saw the father hit the son and then the son walk right through a wall. Disturbed, he would become dissociated from his body temporarily and start thinking about war. Then he would have gone to the Apple store and found they were out of iPads and then gone home. Galchen would go to Borders and buy seven cookies and an orange juice, and would eat the cookies too fast, not realizing that she was getting crumbs all over herself. She would read Consumer Reports and wonder if maybe, maybe she shouldn’t get a Nook, or a Kindle instead. While this is clearly a bad decision, she would provide intensely compelling reasoning that would make you doubt everything you know. Then she would call her penny-pinching uncle, who is crazy but she trusts because he looks like her father. He would further convince her to buy Not an iPad. Nonetheless, she would stumble into the Apple store, her feet autonomous, and Google her uncle and find out something so shocking that she got too distracted to buy the iPad.
Basically, they are both novels about men in search of the wife who has left them. They make you question reality and the idea that two people can ever really know each other.
Wind-Up Bird Chronicles is disjointed, left untied in a way that makes it sit with you forever. It doesn’t insist on logic, but instead distracts you by creating a totally convincing reality that you feel like you’re hanging out in but is cracking from the outside. Atmospheric Disturbances is the opposite. Reality and the stability of the narrator are questioned from the start, but it insists on logic. It takes the same problem and theme and rigorously examines it.
Anyway, these are two of the best books I’ve read in my life. Maybe I just like books about men who’s wives left them, because they always end up realizing that they didn’t really know the person at all. these books deal with that idea in a way that is sad but also sort of romantic. Maybe I can only buy into a “love story” when it starts from ground zero.