Saturday, August 4

Norwegian Wood - Haruki Murakami

So, another book. This book was a much easier read. It took me two days, unlike Lolita which took me around a week. Norwegian Wood is about Toru Watanabe (first impression was that it sounds like Wannabe), who has to deal with the suicide of his only friend, Kizuki, at the age of 17. Toru then starts having a romance with Naoko, Kizuki's girlfriend, who was "left" behind by him.

When I started reading this book, I thought it was purely based on death and romance. But further on I learn that Naoko has a mental illness that "is a lot worse than you think; it has far deeper roots". But thinking back, the theme of a mental illness started from the start, when Kizuki dies.

The book is spread over a myriad of themes (love, death, disillusionment, mental illness, sex, isolation) which, I don't like. I feel that a good novel has to be based on themes that closely cohere with one another. It may be intriguing and intoxicating, but having too many themes is just asking too much of oneself, as an author. I don't feel he has captured any one theme, let alone all themes, well enough that it makes me go, omgosh. Life + mental illness is the basis of his themes, and Life is just too broad to be captured in a novel.

His writing was easy. All contemporary novels are easy reads, which makes them nice, in a lazy way. Sometimes I feel as though I'm not reading, merely soaking in emotions. Which, is, destructive.

(I just texted this to Dom a few hours ago but nevertheless...) At the start, it made me cry. The theme + the fact that it is easy to read + certain quotes just reminded me of certain things. But after awhile, I got annoyed at Murakami. He had used way too many allusions, a lot of which I didn't understand, so yes, I got annoyed. But the one that I had understood, which was the one he had used the most, was The Great Gatsby. He not only used allusions to it, but his characters and writing is basically an affectation of it. I got so annoyed! Dom says, "he merely transfused a variety of styles and made it his own". But maybe that's what I don't like about it - that it was too wishy-washy/lacking concrete substance. If he had wanted a book on disillusionment, make it like Gatsby. If on illicit themes, Nobrakov or Nathaniel Hawthorne. Mental Illness, Sylvia Plath. Too many themes cause too much harm!

But I guess I understood when Dom said, "he uses it to fit the general mood of the story and of the characters and his disillusionment of society", but I don't know, I just repel "copycats". I think I have been reading too many classics to be aroused by affectations of it. Of course, I understand that "good artists copy, great artists steal", but I guess in this case, he did not even steal, he borrowed.

The ending was completely compelling. Which is good! I love endings that have elements of surprise. When I first read the ending I was like omgosh, and I became so sad. But after awhile I thought that it was stupid to fit such a scene in, just to get that impact. Because honestly, it wasn't exactly realistic. I don't believe that they were such senseless and sensual people... gross! Okay, I won't spoil it, so I won't dwell anymore. But ANYWAY, this book is H I G H L Y illicit. That was the other thing that annoyed me. I know he was trying to capture the essence of ribald adolescent love, but seriously, it was kinda overboard.

In all, I don't feel that I really loved the book. But if it were that bad, I wouldn't have continued reading it. So, it was a good, easy, read. Provoked many emotions, but not many thoughts. Way too pseudo-philosophical/pseudo-Fitzgerald for me.

Pretty quotable book though!
Favorite quotes:
"Sometimes Naoko would lock her eyes on to mine for no apparent reason. She seemed to be searching for something, and this would give me a strange, lonely, helpless sort of feeling."
"We were like kids who grew up naked on a desert island. If we got hungry, we'd just pick a banana; if we got lonely, we'd go to sleep in each other's arms. But that kind of thing doesn't last for ever. We grew up fast and had to enter society."
"Most normal people would call it friendship or love or something, but if you want to call it a hobby, that's OK, too."
"How much do you love me?" "Enough to melt all the tigers in the world to butter."
"Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it" 
"If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
"You know, they've got these cookie assortments, and you like some but you don't like others? And you eat all the ones you like,and the only ones left are the ones you don't like as much? I always think about that when something painful comes up. 'Now I just have to polish these off, and everything'll be OK.' Life is a box of cookies."

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