Norwegian Wood

No, not another Beatles post. This is, instead, a little review of a fantastic novel inspired by my four favorite musical men John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

We all know Haruki Murakami is an extremely skilled literary figure (see here for evidence). With Norwegian Wood we get more of the stunning storytelling and idyllic imagery that this Japanese author is so skilled in and beloved for delivering.

Toru Watanabe is a student based in Tokyo whose complicated relationships with women constitute the stuff of this book. Toru idealizes Naoko as his true love, a girl who dated his best friend Kizuki until the latter committed suicide at the age of 17. Underpinning their bond are feelings of loss over Kizuki, a darkness that only grows as Naoko grows increasingly unsettled in the world. Though Toru shares similar feelings of discomfort and isolation in the world, he proves better at handling his loneliness and sadness than Naoko who eventually leaves school to seek psychological help. Meanwhile Toru meets dynamic Midori who he finds himself drawn to despite the strength of his commitment to faraway Naoko.

This love-triangle of sorts is set amidst the backdrop of 1970's Tokyo. Complete with the music and revolutionary zeal of that time, Norwegian Wood chronicles one man's solitary attempt to gain his footing in a time when society is trying to do the same. With all the pull, romanticism, and beauty of the song which is it's namesake, this novel gracefully tells a trademark Murakami coming-of-age story, replete with remarkably graphic characters, both big and small, that you can't help but feel for (in particular, Naoko's brilliantly drawn friend Reiko).

And here are a few bits and pieces from the novel to (hopefully) inspire you to run out and get your hands on this one. Now.

"Death is not the opposite of life but an innate part of life."

"Life doesn't require ideals. It requires standards of action."

"How come you like people like that - people like us, I mean? We're all kinda weird and twisted and drowning... Why can't you like more normal people?"

"As time went by and that little world receded into the distance, I grew increasingly unsure that the events of that night had actually happened. If I told myself they were real, I believed they were real, and if I told myself they were a fantasy, they seemed like a fantasy. They were too clear and detailed to have been a fantasy, and too whole and beautiful to have been real."

"It might go well or it might not. But love is like that. When you fall in love, the natural thing to do is give yourself over to it... It's just one form of sincerity."

1 comment:

  1. I've yet to read any Murakami but I hope to soon and would like to start with Norwegian Wood, since it's an earlier work. Lovely review!


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