Norwegian Wood, Tokyo Dreams

September 27, 2007 at 4:24 am (Uncategorized)

I’ve really been reading some terrific books lately. This morning I finished one of two novels Llew gave me as part of my birthday haul, Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. It was published in the original Japanese in 1987 and went on to launch Murakami’s international stardom. It sounds like there was a frenzied response to it in his home country at the time too. It was a coincidental choice simply because I’d only just recently read something about Murakami – I can’t remember where, when or what, only that I thought to myself “Hmm, great, yet another author I’ve never read.”

That, happily, is no longer the case, and I’m feeling a lot less traumatised than I was after Across the [Turgid] River and Into the [Bloody] Trees. I am a dead giveaway when I’m enjoying a book, because I cart it around everywhere I go and then leap into bed at the first available opportunity every night, only to delay leaving it in the morning so I can continue where I left off. I do this in a manic binge until it’s gone. When I got home from book club last night, Llew was watching Blade, and whilst I have always loved the vampire genre – vampires are so cool – I can no longer stomach gore. I can’t bear it. Excessive violence – unless properly contextualised and deftly handled, as in the Spartan movie 300 – also finds me fleeing the room. The upshot is that I left the wholesale bloodshed to Llew and got into bed with Murakami instead, leaving myself just a few pages to knock over this morning over a cup of tea first thing.

He’s a lovely writer. When I feel really in sync with a writer I’m reading for the first time, it’s like rather like stumbling across the perfect white t-shirt. I do not, I repeat not, stop at one. No, I comb the shelves looking for every t-shirt in my size, and if they come in black, then hell, I’ll take those too. That’s how I’m feeling about Murakami. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the novel is set in Tokyo. Every time the protagonist was in Shibuya or Shinjuku, I sighed aloud and remembered our own time walking those streets, trying those restaurants, sitting in those bars, listening to those jazz records… It’s making me feel all misty-eyed right now… Oh Tokyo, city, city, city of the senses and the soul. I wish I could claim its streets as my own, even if only for a little while. And now Murakami’s gone and cast the spell all over again. That’s me gone, head over heels like a schoolgirl.

POSTSCRIPT: apologies in advance, as I won’t be blogging again until Tuesday 2 October, when we return from our long weekend in Auckland to catch up with some very dear friends of mine who I so rarely get to see. I promise a full debrief upon our return.


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