I’ve decided to take on some of Murakami’s works. I’m really interested in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but it’s just too damn long. I was afraid of su...moreI’ve decided to take on some of Murakami’s works. I’m really interested in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but it’s just too damn long. I was afraid of such an undertaking considering I’ve never read this author before, so I decided to test the waters with Norwegian Wood, which is far shorter.
The book takes place in Japan during the 1960’s. Toru is a college student who is romantically involved with two very different girls, Midori and Naoko. He has a strange history with Naoko—she dated Toru’s best friend since childhood, but then he commits suicide. Naoko is a character who is "beautifully broken"--mentally fragile, the kind of girl you just want to hold. She is unable to deal with her pain and begins to live in a colony where people try to heal themselves through farmwork, simple routine, and exercise. The patients and doctors are almost indistinguishable from each other. The place sounds like a kind of awesome Utopia. Scenes between this colony and “the real world” with Midori are very unsettling. Murakami plays with the reader’s sense of reality, and at times it is difficult whether things are happening only in Toru’s mind or in actuality.
I particularly liked the book’s characters, especially Midori. She’s an absolute gem. I don’t remember the last time I’ve liked a character so much. Perhaps it was because I loved Midori so intensely, but Toru came off as a bit of an ass sometimes.
I think I will definitely read some more Murakami. I’m always hesitant about reading translations…I know that it’s irrational, that translations are usually good, but there’s always a part of me that’s thinking, “but that’s not the EXACT word the author wanted to use!” However, I have heard that Murakami’s English translations are fantastic, and after reading Norwegian Wood I would have to agree.(less)
"It was the year he began to wonder about the noise that colors make. Roses came roaring across the garden at him. He lay on his bed at night listening...more"It was the year he began to wonder about the noise that colors make. Roses came roaring across the garden at him. He lay on his bed at night listening to the silver light of stars crashing against the window screen. Most of those he interviewed for the science project had to admit they did not hear the cries of the roses being burned alive in the noonday sun. Like horses, Geryon would say helpfully, like horses in war."
Autobiography of Red is unlike any book I've every read. As the title suggests, it is a "novel in verse," but don't shy away from it just because it's poetry (and, for some reason, people are afraid of poetry). Don't feel intimidated or "stupid" if you don't get everything...this is a book that demands to be read slowly, and certain parts may be difficult to grasp, but the poetry is very narrative and arranged in a story arc that is easily understood. It is one of those books that is an experience to read, and throughout the book I was continuously reminded of the joy I feel towards the written word. The novel, in fact, could be considered a celebration of the sounds and poetics of words. This short, stunning book re-imagines an ancient Greek epic as a modern coming-of-age story. It is the autobiography of Geryon, a young boy who is a red, winged monster that lives a troubling life. The writing is rich, shocking, raw, and powerful--just read the above excerpt, and you can see how expertly Carson crafts her sentences. The characters are fully realized, coming to life in only a few verses of her pen. I would highly recommend this book, especially for people who like poetry, but want it presented in a more organized way. That being said, I feel that the structure of the book could have been set up a little better, and the pacing could be a little more even.(less)