There is so much to rave about in this book and there is so much that has been said that what I have to say sounds like overkill. Funnily enough, for a book I loved so much I’ve had a hard time formulating words So, I’m going to forgo the usual summary and plot thing, and just jump into the whys as best as I can.
“I want you always to remember me. Will you remember that I existed, and that I stood next to you here like this?”
I’ve read plenty of amazing books recently, and I loved them all for different reasons. Some were page turning thrillers that had me up in the wee hours of the night. Others terrifying in their ability to get my heart pumping. A few were filled with mushily romantic adorableness. All had me excited, jumping up and down and thrilled to share my love for them with my friends. Eager to place them on my favorite shelves.
Norwegian Wood was different. It’s impact on my was subtler, so subtle that I barely realized how much I had enjoyed it until I had finished it. I walked around for the rest of the day just thinking and repeating words and scenes in my head.
Sometimes it really isn’t a bang that grabs you, but a soft powerful whisper.
It’s hard to describe why you love a book that is so dark. Why do you want your heart shredded and that empty lonely feeling that comes with death, loss of innocence, and unrequited love?And better yet, some of my friends might say, why do you want me to read it? Being a little dark myself, for me maybe it’s always been about finding a story and the words that help me not feel so alone. The same reason everyone reads. I read everything and I do mean everything. I’ve found beautiful books in just about every genre.However, it’s stories and writers like this that get to the core of where I live. It’s usually tied to where I am at in a particular moment in my life. I need words to describe what I’m feeling, and these books just hand them out to me. Reading this book felt similar to reading Harry Potter and Matilda as a child, The Book Thief and Jellicoe Road as a teen. It was something that said, “Hey, I know what you need right now. Here you go.”
I identified with Toru and his life. He’s like a male version of me. He’s nostalgic, shy, and awkward. He prefers his quite life with his books, and his music. A drink at the end of the day to wind down.
“Nor could I understand why he picked me to be his friend. I was just an ordinary kid who liked to read books and listen to music and didn’t stand out in any way that would prompt Kizuki to pay attention to me.”
He lives in the shadow of his much more gregarious friends, but he doesn’t really mind it. Attention bothers him. He has terrible luck with love, falls in love with the wrong person, has the wrong person fall in love with him. He doesn’t know how to handle situations, and as a result he often times gets it wrong.
Basically, me in a nutshell.
The portrayal of women is superb. They’re human. None of them are carbon copies of something, much less each other. They’re flawed. They’re emotional. They’re strong. No one tries to fix them, or make them something they aren’t. It’s sad that I have to mention this as a positive, like shouldn’t this just be a thing? But so much “literature” written by men and women-that I’ve read lately- has some really weak female characters, so it’s refreshing to see it done right.
Lastly, Japan, Japan, Japan. Can someone please just buy me a plane ticket and end my misery.
Haruki Marukami said he isn’t sure why this his most beloved book. I could really go on and probably write an essay as to why I think so. My hand written notes are overflowing with squiggles that flow into the margin, but I won’t. Partly because I don’t even understand what I am trying to say, and I really don’t want to get this wrong. Like Toru, I sometimes am the least vocal when I feel strongly about something. So, all I can say is this book is lovely in all its tragedy, and stunning in its simplicity.