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.

My Murakami Love Affair

If I remember it right, it was “On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning” that he was introduced to me. It wasn’t really love at first sight, or should I say, read. But when love hit me, boy, it is deep. I think it’s when I found a copy of “The Elephant Vanishes” at an irresistible discounted price in a hospital bookstore that I fully embrace the love for Haruki Murakami. His stories are mesmerizing. It is very easy for me to get attached to his characters. I wonder how delightful it would be if I were reading the original text of the translated version. I bet it’s gonna be one hell of a reading experience.

Brushing up on my Japanese (literature, that is) as part of Le Preparation, I revisited my admiration for him and scoured the internet for ebooks. Thank goodness for the worldwide web, I have now access to most of his books. (And thank you, dear little brother, for your tablet). For days, I was in a download frenzy.

The first ebook I read was “Sputnik Sweetheart”. And what I like about the way Murakami writes is his use of the first-person narrative. And he really did impress me with this book. It’s a story of woman as told by a man. And I like the way how Murakami takes you, the reader, with him to anywhere his characters go. I went to Greece via this book.

I’ve also recently finished “After Dark” and that’s when I confirmed I am indeed in love. Reading the book is like watching a movie and dreaming at the same time. The setting is Tokyo, so it was perfect for my not-so little project. I will definitely order chicken salad from Denny’s on one of the nights. I will take sweet Takahashi’s word that it’s “the only thing worth eating” at Denny’s. I may also bring a book, although I’m pretty sure it won’t be as thick as Mari’s.

I enjoy reading like I enjoy a journey, that I prefer savoring every page, unlike some people who read so fast and they actually wear it like a badge when they finish a book overnight. I don’t do that. I enjoy every page of a book and I really restrain myself from finishing it in one sitting. I prefer to take time, devour every bit of it. I want it long, the kind that lasts for a while.

And so with “After Dark”, I limited myself with two chapters a night. But I was so engrossed with the story, that I didn’t realize I’ve already reached the ending. I was reading it on a tablet and I didn’t notice the page count. Nooooo! I silently protested. This can’t be the last page. I want more! But, alas, it was the end.

However, the good thing about finishing a good book is that I can move on to the next one. “Dance, Dance, Dance” was the fourth on my list. It’s a pretty long story compare to the first two books I’ve read. And so I was happy. I had spent more time in the rather twisted and dark world of Murakami. In this very eventful and surreal book about loss, mysticism, love and death, I took a vacation in Hawaii with a nameless protagonist and a troubled psychic teenager. It was so good, I didn’t want to unpack when it ended. Read: I didn’t want to move on to the next book.

But then just like a really great trip, it needs a follow-through. I am now reading the more popular “Norwegian Wood”. It’s some trip, this book, and I am enjoying the ride so far.

Rants and Raves 2012

Wow. Time really flies so fast whether you’re having fun or not. Year 2012 is almost over! And, yes, we survived yet another end of the world… And so, I’m listing down the things that make or break the year that was. I’ll try to keep it mostly in the “make” section. Promise. 🙂

Boracay with Venn. This actually ties with the second item (maybe not really) but I do know that Venn is gonna read this, so I just have to write about it first. [Venn, ayan, ha? Yes, you win. Alam mo na ‘yan. Gusto ko lang ulitin. Dahil alam kong you like it that way. hehe] It was really a spur of the moment idea. Something bad came up that only a plane ticket to somewhere would make me at least smile and think of something happy to look forward to at that time. And so, Boracay with Venn happened.

It was really, really fun! Of course, I already knew that it’s gonna be expensive but I didn’t expect it to be so worth it. I have to thank Venn for keeping up with all my quirks and OC craziness. For taking care of me the moment we met at the Marquee Mall to the bus station when I finally had to go home to Manila. And for braving the plane and the boat rides. For everything that made the trip so much fun. It’s a bit tough to top that one, I have to admit. And I ought to write a separate entry about it, really. Read about it here.

Boracay with Venn Collage (800x640)

As Mark Twain said, There is no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them. I live and travel by this quote. And I hope Venn feels the same when I say I like what I found out, otherwise wala na kaming Venn Vacation Volume 2. 🙂

The Phantom of the Opera. My heart can still feel the giddy feeling at the thought of watching one of the greatest Broadway shows live and very up close this year. I couldn’t thank Ariane enough for the chance. Read how much I rave about it here.

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Best Stumbled-Upon Muzak: Imagine Dragons. 
Thanks to Aby, I’m now a fan of the “On Top of the World” song. That song never fails to put me in a good mood. I remember Boracay every time I listen to that song. It probably is the trip’s OST.

Weekend at the Beach with Mi Famiglia. It was summer this year when Angie and Annie came here for a vacation. It was fun to finally meet them. And it was also fortunate that at that time I got a chance to bring them to Tanza Oasis in Cavite for a weekend. Thanks to my previous job in MBPS. 🙂

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New (but very familiar) boss. I got an opportunity to work once again with one of my favorite bosses. I really learned a lot from her before so I didn’t have to put so much thought when she offered me a chance to be under her supervision once more. True, you can choose your job but you can’t choose your boss. This time I actually got a chance to do that.

Best Gift: A Cath Kidston. It was from my boss. Kaso, lagot, I think she might have ignited a new addiction.

Pearl Milk Tea Addiction. I just have to post this as there was a time that the craving was too intense I’d create excuses in my mind to go to the mall where there is Chatime.

Pers Taym Visit sa Valencia. Finally, I got a chance to visit Tatay’s province. I know it had been his sort of dream for me to finally meet my folks in his hometown. It was fun meeting them and seeing Dumaguete for the first time. It’s a bit bummer not to be able to explore the City more. I’d like to go back and do that. Perhaps a trip to Siquijor is gonna be a good idea, too.

Caramoan, Here We Come (with Atenie): FAIL. Because I still don’t have a clone and because I haven’t mastered the ability to be in two places at one time, I had to cancel my trip to Cam Sur with Ate V-lyn. It was a bit sad that we had to postponed it. We already purchased tickets. It’s a good thing Atenie understood the situation. Maybe it’s not yet the right time to go.

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Silvanas from Sans Rival. Ah! This has to be the ultimate addiction for the year. I hoarded two boxes when we came back from Dumaguete. A cousin always brought us a couple of boxes and they were delish! So it’s not a surprise really if  I would grab a chance to hoard. So hoard, I did. It’s cheap at P110 per box of 10s. I wasn’t able to try the Sans Rival cake because I was too full when we went there. But I would love to go back there  to try it. O kaya pwede rin magdala sila next time. hehe They’re really heavenly. I can’t stop raving about it the first time I got a taste of it.

Kief and I. By virtue of work, I got to meet the most popular (sikat pala talaga s’ya) collegiate basketball player, Kiefer Ravena. And also by virtue of work, I have to be an instant fan! Hehe But he’s one nice and humble dude. I hope he stays that way.

Instagram. The greatest online invention after Twitter. It’s like tweeting but with pictures! What more could I ask for? I think I might be one of the reasons why this app was developed. 🙂 A runner-up is Pinterest.

IMG_20121125_160833Best Eats. Ang almost-favorite na sana naming food place ni Venn ay ang La Mesa Grill. ‘Yun nga lang minsan hindi nila kami in-accommodate dahil puno. So mga tatlong beses lang yata kami kumaing dalawa dito. But that’s a record for us. Gusto ko ‘yung calderetang kambing, though. At ‘yung paldewut na wala na. Boo! So, palitan na natin. I love Rumpa in Angeles! 🙂 It was our welcome brunch when we got back from Boracay. We had salad na super mura but really filling. And I had steak. It was superb. After the horrendously expensive food tripping in Bora, it was a relief to eat at a fine restaurant that offers very affordable grubs. Yummy! I’m gonna go back. 🙂

Best Movie: The Hobbit. Everyone says it’s epic. I definitely agree here. But watching this with Alain, my best movie buddy, was extra special.

Best Read: The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I read the book before the film was to shoot. I love the book! But I had to watch the movie three times to finally appreciate it. Maybe I was to convinced that Michael Cera could have made it more interesting.

#Amalayer. I wish I am referring to that rather harsh incident that involved a college student berating a lady guard, but I am not. It has to be on top of the list of things I hate. I do not really like being lied to. Lalo na kung ang liit-liit na bagay. Am I not worthy enough of the truth? I really hope I can let this slide. I really hope so.

Tennis Let-Down: Rafa’s Knee. Rafael Nadal had to go on rehab for around six months, I think. He’s made HIS7ORY, though, at the French Open. And he’ll be back for the Australian Open next year. At least that’s the hope.

Something That Made Me Stronger and (I hope) Better. It’s been one heck of a year, really. A one hell of a crazy roller-coaster ride if I may say. The ride ain’t done and I don’t think I’m ready for it to end yet. But I think I’m gonna be fine. I have to be.