Japan is full of ghosts and monsters. This might not be apparent to the casual observer (lost in translation?) but get a little under the surface - go sit at the bottom of an abandoned well, for instance- and they'll declare themselves.
If the Wind-up bird Chronicle is about any one thing in particular it's about the legacy of War. It's most striking chapters deal with things that happened in occupied Manchuria in the 30s and 40s. Absurd and atrocious things- a massacre of zoo animals for example. Human beings are capable of remarkably evil and stupid acts. So what happens to that capacity when peace breaks out? A US submarine prepares to open fire on a freighter full of Japanese women and children. At the very last moment it receives notification that Japan has surrendered and the war is over. The guns swing off target, the men go below and the sub sinks back down beneath the surface of the waves.
Our hero is a good-natured slacker. Life is bland. There is however a haunted house just down the way and his brother-in-law is this ultra creepy TV personality and politician with a gift for bringing out the worst in people...
Murakami gets into trouble with a lot of critics for not tying up his loose ends. But does life tie up its loose ends? I think not.