Isn’t It Good, Norwegian Wood?

I just had to listen to the song before I write this entry. It’s a beautiful song with a catchy and soothing melody. Now I wish I know all the songs and the books mentioned in this Murakami book I’ve just finished reading. I bet it would have been a more joyful reading experience. And I could only imagine how it would be if I’m actually reading the original Japanese text.

Anyway, you can listen to the Beatles song here.
tumblr_mqg1mjvINY1qf136eo1_r1_500As with the other three books, I was a bit sad as I came to reach the last pages. I think that’s what Murakami’s special gift–he can captivate the reader so flawlessly that it’s as if you’ve known the characters and been to the places they’ve been to as you read their story. And then when you’ve reached the ending, it kinda sucks. Because then you have to say goodbye to these somewhat familiar characters and bid farewell to the places you’ve sort of grown to love. And then you may want to treat yourself to a Japanese restaurant (or at least to a cucumber and nori). Because even the part where the characters are cooking or eating are very well written, it could work up a really bad craving.

By the way, the book is full of words of wisdom, life lessons, you know, those kick-ass quotes.

With this novel, I traveled back in time to Tokyo circa 1969 to 1970. I was a bit stunned by the “Rated SPG” parts. This was written in 1987, and I am pretty sure this book has been a shocker. But Murakami (or at least the translator, Jay Rubin) has written those parts so casual, it’s as if it was actually the norm. But I don’t know so much about the Japanese culture. Well, in this book, I pretty much had a glimpse. And my idea of a very conservative culture was shattered. Oh, how I really wish I could read Japanese!

I also fully understood the concept of deus ex machina in this book. From reading the other books, I’ve grown used to melancholy and loss as themes in Murakami novels. But I still got stunned whenever a character dies suddenly. And that’s another characteristic of Murakami novels. They take you by surprise. Even some flashbacks can be really twisted you’d feel cheated at some point.

It’s a really interesting ride reading a Murakami book. I’ve never been this emotional and involved as a bibliophile.

To cure my hangover, I googled about “Norwegian Wood”, of course. And I was relieved to have found out that it has been made into a film in 2010, and there’s even a review of it by Roger Ebert here. I would want to see that movie.

This is the fifth Murakami book that I have read, and it sealed the deal. Haruki Murakami is now my favorite novelist. I was floored when I read the part where Toru Watanabe, wandering like a lost soul after a tragic loss, is given money by a stranger. Toru naturally hesitated to take the money since the food and sake were more than enough. “It’s not money,” the stranger said, “It’s my feelings.”

I really couldn’t explain how and why, but that really got me. I put down the tablet and paused a while just to take it all in and admire what a great writer Murakami truly is. I mean, what kind of character could say a metaphor like that? Only a character in a Murakami book, that’s what.

I’m taking a break from Murakami after “Norwegian Wood.” It’s too beautiful and depressing at the same time, I needed a breather. So, I’m going to read Banana Yoshimoto’s “The Lake” in the mean time.


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