Title: Norwegian Wood (ノルウェイの森)
Author: Haruki Murakami
Translator: Jay Rubin
Pages: 286 P
Publisher: Vintage International, 2000
I have had avoided Norwegian Wood ever since a friend introduced me Haruki Murakami about 6 years ago. Not that I wanted to be not mainstream one, it is just I had enough everytime people talking about his book. I was kind of selfish when it came to Murakami. I didn’t want people around me admire him that much lol. So, to avoid people saying Norwegian Wood is great!” to me , I read his other books and held myself not to read Norwegian Wood (I haven’t read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle for the same reason but not for 1Q84, I was just too lazy to read a big chunk).
Toru Watanabe and Naoko shared Kizuki’s death. Kizuki, the only bestfriend Toru ever had, Naoko’s boyfriend, did suicide in his seventeen. It was just a quick, saddest moment, influenced the next life of theirs. Toru who fell in love with Naoko, and Naoko who couldn’t fall in love with him, struggled the best for them. And then there was Midori. An honest cheerful girl who came to Toru once in a while (saying this because Midori came and went by often) who fell in love with Toru. What would life bring to them?
“I’m not all that smart. It takes me a while to understand things. But if I do have the time, I will come to understand you – better than anyone else in the world ever can.”
The one paragraph above was just enough to sum up the story. Later on, you would find the details of their journey in age twenty. Sadness, despair, loneliness, sex, beers, sex, friendship, honesty, sex, sex again, death, separation. You would find so many heart breaking moments as well as detailed sex scenes. My most heart breaking moment is when Toru took care of Midori’s father in hospital. The father suddenly took Toru’s offer to eat cucumber. I could feel the crunchiness of the cucumber and I almost cried when Murakami ‘killed’ the father.
Toru is probably my favourite character although if I met him in person, I would get frustrated because of his honesty and flat intonation. I like how he handled things when he met Naoko in sanatorium (why Naoko in a place called sanatorium is what you need to reveal by yourselves) or how he acted towards Midori when the girl became so clingy asking him to be cuddled before went to bed (I probably would become so clingy if I met a person like Toru).
“You are a good person, though. I can tell that much from looking at you. I can tell these things after seven years of watching people come and go here: there are people who can open their hearts and people who can’t. You’re one of the ones who can. Or, more precisely, you can if you want to.”
I also like how the other characters appeared have the meaning of their presence. There weren’t just names mentioned. And the description written also weren’t just description. I can remember when Toru was grunting about the flag pole, I was sure that it wasn’t just a flag pole. Turned out I was right.
“The clock said 6:15, but I had no idea if that meant A.M. or P.M. , and I couldn’t remember what day it was. I looked out the window and realized there was no flag on the pole. It was probably P.M. So raising the flag might serve some purpose after all.”
For myself, it is a hard to express this book in a short review yet I can’t write the long one. The slow pace, the long narration, deep conversation, are Murakami’s strength I like the most (so readers need to be patient enough to read this). In the end, it gave me big exhaustion and hangover I needed to sleep more hours after a peaceful night sleeping like a log. Lesson learned: we need to struggle and continue our life because that’s what we only can do.