Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami - Book Review

Norwegian WoodNorwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Beginning heralds the end. The End initiates a beginning. In between lies a cycle. A cycle where words rain, feelings gush like a river towards the ocean called life, and the ocean hides the abyss of uncertainty. You just sway along this journey, along with Murakami.

"Here comes the sun, and I say It's all right"

Sometimes when you are sitting in peace, ensconced in the metaphorical warmth of a house and you hear the clock chime, making you realize that the time is running fast. It saddens you and sends a disturbing ripple on the lake of peace. Events. Murakami is a master horologist.

"And when I awoke, I was alone, this bird had flown
So I lit a fire, isn't it good, norwegian wood."

Ever get a feeling that someone has tapped into your thoughts by sending a probe in your mind? Dr. Murakami specializes in this. He evaluates your questions, analyzes your thoughts and dynamically modifies his words to answer some of the questions, at the same time planting some more. Making you stop and think.

"I'll get to you somehow
Until I do I'm telling you so you'll understand"

Who is Toru Watanabe? To me, he felt like a mid way between the protagonist of Camus' Outsider and Holden Scholfield.

"But the fool on the hill,
Sees the sun going down,
And the eyes in his head,
See the world spinning 'round."

There is a surreal feeling hinting at an underlining, hidden meaning or information whenever Murakami explains or describes even the mundane things. The characters are fully developed representations of life and it's meanings. Watanabe (a paper boat on the water, Kizuki and Naoko's link to the outside world, observer, listener), Kizuki (conversationalist, gregarious within a closed circle), Naoko (perfect companion, uncertain, devoted), Hatsumi (patience, dedication), Nagasawa (flamboyance), Reiko (experience), The Ami Hostel (a world within world where accepting yourself makes you fit in, where reality is identified with in a much better sense than the real world), Midori (style, innocent naughtiness, pragmatic), Midori's Dad (a man burdened by the system), Storm Trooper (the scape goat)... Everyone represents some part of the human behavior or trait or characteristic. They aren't just characters. But then to quote from the book:
"I can't tell whether this kind of analysis is trying to simplify the world or complicate it."

"People are strange, when you're a stranger."

Nagasawa is Tyler Durden. You do not talk about...
"Neither of us is interested, essentially, in anything but ourselves. OK, so I'm arrogant and he's not, but neither of us is able to feel any interest in anything other than what we ourselves think or feel or do. That's why we can think about things in a way that's totally divorced from anybody else. That's what I like about him. The only difference is that he hasn't realized this about himself, and so he hesitates and feels hurt."

"All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?"

You tend to lose your way in the dialogues. Where induced feelings and your own feelings seem to resonate. Beautiful articulation of words and meanings. The way fine whiskey dissolves your blurry past and sharpens the most heartfelt memories.

"Suddenly, I'm not half to man I used to be,
There's a shadow hanging over me.
Oh, yesterday came suddenly."

Sometimes within all the mundane stuff comes a hard hitting line. Hard hitting and deeply poignant. Makes you go back and read it again. Just to realize the gravity of the meaning.

"For well you know that it's a fool who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder"

"So, if you understand me better, what then?" Is this book a commentary on how we look at things around us, try to understand some, understand few of the some, try to adapt, but eventually throw the towel and move on? Never trying to simplify us, our intentions, our motives, or our feelings? Like I just have used the words "intention" and "motives" without really trying to fathom the difference between them. Always inclined towards a complexity that hides and cozily blankets our insecurities and fallacies?

"Send me a postcard, drop me a line,
Stating point of view.
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, Wasting Away."

Love. Love is something where reason stops.

"Even a rat will choose the least painful route if you shock him enough"
"But rats don't fall in love."

I have cited some verses from the Beatles' songs mentioned in the book. They form the real review. My words are just fillers.

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Aquatic Static said...

Wow. I've only read Kafka On The Shore and while I loved parts of it, I didn't have it in me to really understand what was going on. But your passionate review makes me want to try again.

k said...

This one is different from Murakami's usual style of blending surrealism with everything. A rather normal novel compared to his others, from what I got to know. Do give it a shot if you love melodic prose.

ME!! said...

Love how you've interwoven the lyrics with the melody of the book ... Me needs to read this,,

k said...

C, the book has these lovely songs that string the story together. You definitely should read the book. Let me know when you do read.

G said...

Interesting review style. Recently read the book, and enjoyed it.