the reader in a quiet corner

hi, i'm ceecee. my reading interests can be described as eclectic.

i made this account just in case goodreads implodes, but will be eratically updating here.

 

 

Norwegian Wood - Jay Rubin, Haruki Murakami Warning:

Suicide Count: 4
Sex Scenes: Well, I didn't count, but there were plenty, and the last one most astounding of all even more astounding than that lesbian rape scene. More on that later.

Not a great way to start off a review, but it's kinder to let you know what you're in for, you know?

This is the first Murakami I've read, and I can't say I'm rushing to read more of his books, but I also can't say that I'll stay away from them. I mean, this novel has become one of my fast faves, yet I'm still wary of reading more Murakami. I always get the feeling I have to be mentally prepared for whatever I'm going to read, because, as Norwegian Wood proved, it really does make one's mind reel.

But it also gives you an onslaught of lovely prose. Idk, I guess I'm just really partial to the kind of melancholy I associate with the Japanese.

Norwegian Wood gets its title from the Beatles song, which is the favorite song of one of the leads, Naoko.

It's also very apt, especially since the first line goes like this

"I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me..."

This is the story of Toru Watanabe and the people he meets along the way, in the years 1969-70, amidst student revolutions and an ever-growing liberality of the youth. In a way, it's a new adult novel, in which it deals with how adolescents on the verge of adulthood find it difficult to step up to the demands of adulthood. Like I said, there were plenty of suicides in this novel, one, Naoko's boyfriend, and the other, Naoko's sister. Both suicides I think have deeply affected Naoko, and in turn, affected Toru.

Though Naoko and Toru weren't very close growing up, they were bonded by the suicide of their close friend Kizuki. But Naoko is a deeply troubled girl, more than Toru knows. Naoko admits herself to a rehab, and Toru and Naoko continue their relationship through letters.

Meanwhile, Toru befriends Nagasawa, a brilliant but without-conscience guy, together they conquer the nightlife. I love how Murakami presents Toru's one night stands. Especially with that random girl who recently broke up with her boyfriend.

The other one is Midori, my favorite character, for the sole reason that she can say whatever I dare not say to other people. I must admit it's unbelievable that real people talk the way Midori does. I know I've had issues about unrealistic dialogue, but in this one, I'm strangely enchanted by it. Idk, I'm just biased, I guess. Stop reading this review now because I'm really biased.

Some people criticize this for being just a love story. I don't mind it at all. I love love stories. But there are other things, between the lines. Toru must choose between the past and the future. To remain stagnant, or to go on with life.

Which is presented by, the love story! On one hand is Naoko, whom Toru understandably is reluctant to break his bond with, the other, Midori. I put Norwegian Wood on my adorable couples shelf, because Toru and Midori are just so cute, okay? Toru is just better with Midori around.

Which is why I am so astounded by that ending. What could Murakami possibly mean with that ending? Could it be that Toru hasn;t fully opened to Midori, yet? That he is still reluctant to choose a progressive life? Why would Toru lie to Midori, saying he and Naoko only slept once? Sure they had intercourse once, but Naoko gave gim blowjobs! And sleeping with Reiko is just so random and WTF-ish.I kind of pity Midori after that. Somehow, I get the feeling that I missed something. Which is why I have to read this novel again, in the distant future.

For now, it's enough to say that I enjoyed the prose, and the story.

*4.5 stars In a nutshell it was sad and beautiful and redeeming and wonderful. Except for that bizarre ending (which is like the flaw you have to accept in a person you love).