Norwegian Wood is a collage of chronologically scattered order of memories about grief, lost love and confusion. The book opens with the protagonist, Watanabe on an airport hearing Norwegian Wood and reminiscing about his love Naoko. After that scene the chapters goes on to build up a growing love that could move imaginary mountains. Naoko is the air that keeps Watanabe breathing. But like the air he can’t hold her. Naoko is in a world where the death of her sister and her ex-boyfriend keeps her confined. She is trying to break free for Watanabe. On the otherhand, Watanabe is struggling in the real world where he sees nothing but the incomprehensible human behaviors. One afternoon, a free spirited girl named Midori walks into his life. Watanabe finds himself drawn to her. And it goes on as a poignant realization of whom he truly love. He must choose between the love he breathes and the love that could make him breathe.
The plot is a little bit flat with no depth on it but series of struggle building a climax that couldn’t be reached. You’ll get hooked leaving through the pages as it hypes up an event. Then the event happens but you’ve already read past it. It’s like experiencing the whole process and feeling the thrill after it. You’ll get that conclusion after reading the last page and you expect another chapter to extend the read and give you an actual ending. I hate it when that happens to a good book like this. Or maybe I am just hoping Murakami would end it all differently.
The theme is pretty ordinary, its how the author carries it, that makes it compelling. Watanabe sounds like a sexually aware Holden Caulfield trying to act like he is Nick Carraway. The Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby references doesn’t help the similarities of some of the character to the two earlier books. If you’re a fan of both novels the “any friend of Gatsby is a friend of mine” comment is surely going to amuse you.
If compared to Beatles songs, Naoko would be Penny Lane and Midori would be Blackbird. Both songs are mentioned on the book. Maybe they are actually based on those beautiful songs.
Overall, the book is a reminder of anybody’s youth. Whether they are from the 60’s or 70’s, whether we listen to The Beatles or Jim Morrison, whether we read F. Scott Fitzgerald or Marx, we all could feel sympathy to a person who has loved deeply beyond his sanity could handle. Some of us might have even experienced it.
Yes, as you might have guessed it, I’m trying to reference the this blogs title to the song.