Monday, June 16

Book Review: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Author: Haruki Murakami
Title: Norwegian Wood
Genre: Fiction, Romance, and Tragedy
Pages: 296
First Published: 1987
Where I Got It: My shelf (Bought at Barnes and Nobles)

"Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before.  Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable.  As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.

A poignant story of one college student's romantic coming-of-age, Norwegian Wood takes us to that distant place of a young man's first, hopeless, and heroic love."

Yet again...the summary does nothing to really capture the book and what is going on in it. This is no simple story about a young man's "coming of age" or whatever. This goes through the concept of death, love, and finding ones way into the world. It also goes over that strange line that is between the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s. I strange time in world history. One can always blame the hippies for that ;). haha

This is my third book by Haruki Murakami and he has not disappointed yet. I was afraid at first, because I read a few reviews that completely bashed the book by saying this was the "crappiest book out of all his books" and because the first 25 pages bored me to tears. However, I keep going and the Murakami magic happened by page 26. THANK GOODNESS! I was so worried. From that point on, I could hardly put the book down. 

I truly wished I could have liked Toru....but I didn't. He was one of those nice jerks that everyone can't help but like. He was self-centered and the feelings of others came in third place, but the whole time he was convinced that he was a "nice and ordinary guy", who "never lied". BULLCRAP!!!!! He was little better then Nagasawa. At least Nagasawa was completely honest about being an ass and jerk. After a while, he may tell the truth. He never did tell Midori the complete truth about his "girlfriend" who was locked up in a mental institution in the countryside (if I was to lose my marbles for good and had to go somewhere, this place was awesome. It's not a hospital, but a natural way to find your way again). No. He just told her it was complicated. WHICH brings up the subject of this "girlfriend", Naoko.

She was Toru's friend's girlfriend. However, this boy killed himself for no real reason. I do feel bad for Naoko and I can see why she lost her marbles, because her sister had killed herself years previous and then her boyfriend killed himself. Horrible and would make any sane person flip. However, I resented her for the fact that she dragged Toru around and pretty much used him and gave nothing in return. She couldn't even truly give her heart to him, but she expected him to be there for her always and to "remember" her and visit her and write to her and when she got out to help her. She gave so much, but she had nothing for him. She could never love him, because her heart belonged to her dead boyfriend. I get it. True love and all that jazz, but really? Let's drag around this poor guy, because it makes her "feel good" and "feel better". Meh.

I liked Midori a lot, even though she was a touch off her rocker. 

Well, the story was good even though I wanted to punch a couple of the characters once in a while. Those flaws though made the story the way it is. The flaws were a good thing to install in the characters, because it does show real life in a way. Not everything is as simple as they make it seem especially during this time period. There was a changing in the world, so many people were riding the fault line. Some won't make it and can't handle it. Some flourish. It is the way of the world. I loved every crazy moment! 

In the end, I would suggest starting with 'After Dark' before hitting this one. 'After Dark' is a great way to start reading Murakami books. That is how I started and it seems the best way to. I loved the story even though a few of the characters angered me and made me wonder at their own sanity. Sanity is such a relative term isn't it? Ha. Anyways....I shall stamp this one with 3 stars. It is not my favorite of his books. 

Favorite Character(s): Midori and Reiko
Not-so Favorite Character(s): Nagasawa, Toru, and Naoko 


Blodeuedd said...

I can't say that it calls out to me

Carole Rae said...

You should try his other books. :) Much better.