Norwegian Wood is not what I expected. I was looking for more of Murakami’s surrealist fiction, more of his magical realism, but I got a coming-of-age love story. That in no way lessened my enjoyment. It was simply a much different experience than I was prepared for.
If you have not read Murakami and you enjoy literary fiction, you’re truly missing out. I’m ashamed I didn’t come across him sooner. He was completely off my radar until my buddy Gregor introduced me to his writing. Translator Jay Rubin does a fantastic job, and all his translations come Murakami approved, so rest assured that nothing is lost in translation. At least not where the author is concerned.
Norwegian Wood is told in first person from the perspective of Toru, a college student who’s simply floating through life. He meets a girl named Naoko and a guy called Kizuki, and his life is changed forever. This book is passionate. Murakami harnesses the power of love without being sappy. He writes erotic scenes without overused shit like “her glistening sex” and “her throbbing core” or “his swollen member” or “his massive fuck stick.” Those silly-ass terms are the reason I don’t read erotica. Hard to find something arousing when I’m laughing my balls off at word choice. Murakami succeeds at being the only author I’ve read that uses “penis” and “vagina” sensually. And his scenes are truly sensual. I’ve read a lot of sex in my day. Murakami writes about making love without beating to death all the standard romance tropes.
Fuckers kill themselves like its feudal Japan in this piece. The folks in this book might as well be dishonored samurai. This fucker kills themselves in turn making this fucker kill themselves and then some other fucker kills themselves. Jesus Christ, I thought I was reading the novelization of The Happening, you know, without the stupid-ass killer trees. But there’s a point to all of it. The book has a theme. Bring your reading caps, friends and neighbors, or this is just going to seem like a simple tale of love lost and love won followed up by some more love lost.
In summation: If you’re not on it already, you need to board the Murakami Train. His books are at turns beautiful and sorrowful, and consistently magical. Even when there’s no magic involved. Highly recommended.
Final Judgment: Hypnotizing.