Thursday, 2 February 2017

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

"As the winter deepened, the transparent clarity of Nook's eyes seemed to increase"

This was one of the rare occasions where I'd seen the movie adaptation first. If you're familiar with my reviews you will know that's usually something I try and avoid. Thankfully the book and movie are quite different and diverging beasts, so I was able to put it out of mind.
What's not to love about Murakami and his mix of the dreamlike and the visceral? I'm a fairly recent convert to his works and am certainly enjoying discovering each offering. The other worldliness of being a young adult at university is captured here, albeit with some rather depressing tones of suicide and mental illness. Sex is at the centre of it all, whether it be the one off, life changing kind, the casual hook ups that grow increasingly amorphous or the healing, feeling of belonging kind. Just like life its all a bit confusing and a bit of a mishmash. Set in the 1960s, and the title reflecting the favourite Beatle's song of the protagonist's friend, then later girlfriend (of a sort). She is Naoko, the former girlfriend of Toro Watanabe's best childhood friend ( who kills himself). Joined by their shared loss of KIzuki at the tender age of 17, Toro and Naoko have a strange and often strained relationship.
Toro's love life, and often lack of it, makes for engaging reading and introduces a strange and often tortured parade of characters. If it all sounds a little bit too gloom and doom, it isn't, it remains page turning-ly compelling and is a beautiful read.
I don't wish to ruin the book for you, so, semi-spoiler - the ending drove me to distraction and left me feeling bereft. When you take into account that the beginning of the book is Toro looking back miserably,it does, however, draw a someone perfect symmetry. I wish I understood Japanese so that I could really explore the source.

 5 out of 5 times you can never read too much Murakami.

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