Monday, November 2, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Author:  Haruki Murakami
Country:  Japan
# of pages:  296
Year:  1987
Norwegian Wood is so beautiful that the minute I closed the book, a deluge of conflicting emotions swelled inside me, overwhelming me with feelings and thoughts that only a great piece of literature could ever do. I felt like crying and wasn't even sure why. Excuse me for being sappy. It's a rare occurrence, believe me.

Of course, the book isn't without flaws. While I identify and relate with most of the characters, there are instances where I question myself if I could actually believe this guy or that gal. Sometimes I find their lifestyle or attitude unrealistic. It reminds me of those Japanese manga boys that are too mature to be true - drinking whiskey, having sex (and being so gosh darn good at it) etc. etc. But that's just a minor issue for me. Maybe that's how teenagers were in that era. It's highly possible. We all are different after all. And I welcome the straightforwardness of the story. It was a simple narrative riddled with real human emotions - what's more effective than that?

Murakami writes about isolation, emptiness, grief, and loss, and then he messes you up by adding love and warmth, friendship, or whatever it is that keeps people going in this dark & insane world - all in one book. There's always a feeling of heaviness in his themes that is hard to shake off even after you're done with the book for quite some time. This is why I could never read one Murakami book after another. It will destroy me.

It's ironic, really, connecting with the characters' disconnect, sensing hope in their hopelessness, seeing a glimmer of light in their darkness, and finding comfort in their utter sense of isolation. You just connect, one way or the other, whether you see yourself in Kizuki, Hatsumi, Reiko, Naoko, Nagasawa, Watanabe, Midori or even Storm Trooper, whether you have an intense need to be loved or have that warmth inside or to not feel anything at all, not knowing where you are, just empty... whatever. It's all in this book.

Surprisingly though, despite all the heavy stuff I mentioned, Norwegian Wood turned out to be a fairly easy read for me. A lighter story than Murakami's usual style that didn't leave me feeling dark and bogged down, pretty much like what Kafka on the Shore  did to me.

It's just perfect. I could re-read this over and over through the years like Watanabe trying to recall his dimming memories of the past, reliving the intensity of each past experiences. This book makes me feel.

I love it.

I love that it tore me apart and then patched me right back up and destroyed me all over again.

I love Midori. I connected with her the most. Without her, I wouldn't even bother writing a review, it just wouldn't be worth it. Midori symbolizes everything that is beautiful in this life. That even when you long for death, even when your soul have died several times and you go through the motions waiting for that sweet moment of release from this world, you see things that makes life worth living. A beautiful sunset, a strong cup of coffee, a great book, deep conversations, wind on your face, fresh sheets etc. That's Midori. She reminds you that despite the bad in this life, there's also good in it. And you only need to live day by day, be honest and brave, and just feel. Suck it up and feel.

Just remember, life is a box of cookies. You know how they’ve got these cookie assortments, and you like some but you don’t like others? And you eat up all the ones you like, and the only ones left are the ones you don’t like so much? I always think about that when something painful comes up. ‘Now i just have to polish these off, and everything’ll be O.K.’ Life is a box of cookies.” - Midori

If you're a Murakami fan, what book would you recommend for me to read next?

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